Ninth-inning outburst leads Rays to victory

by Gary Shelton on July 24, 2021

in general

Choi hit a three-run homer in the ninth./CHUCK MULLER

Saturday, 4 a.m.

The later it gets, the better they are.

Team Midnight, the Tampa Bay Rays, worked the late shift again Friday night, scoring six times in the ninth inning to pull away from the Cleveland Indians in a 10-5 victory.

Lately, the Rays have often started slowly, and they've been so-so in the middle innings. But in the last third of a game, they seem to find their stride. It was the third straight last at-bat win for the Rays and their fourth straight win overall.

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Think about this. The Rays have scored 54 runs in the ninth inning, which is most in the major leagues. They've scored 56 times in the seventh (sixth in the majors, and 58 in the eighth (fourth). In all, they have 188 runs in the seventh inning and later (first in the league).

This time, there were hitting stars. Including:

-- Joey Wendle, who had a pinch-hit single to drive in the go-ahead run in the ninth after the game was tied at 4.

-- Ji-Man Choi, who hit a three-run homer to break open the game.

-- Nelson Cruz, who homered in his first game as a Ray.

-- Wander Franco, who had his first three-hit night.

The Rays are now 6-2 since the all-star break. They remain a game behind the Boston Red Sox.

The Rays jumped to a 4-0 lead Friday, scoring three times on a goofy play in which Cleveland made two errors. Cruz added a solo homer in his second at-bat.

"That was really nice," said Rays' manager Kevin Cash.  "He looks good in a Rays' uniform. He looks good in all the uniforms he’s worn, but I’m biased to the one he has on right now.You could tell when he walked through the clubhouse. There is a presence to him. Life in him the dugout was al little more exciting than usual."

The Indians tied the game on a three-run homer and a triple by Jose Ramirez. But the Rays had five hits in their ninth inning to get the win.

The Rays have not announced a pitcher for tonight's game. J.C. Mejia will start for Cleveland. The game will start at 7:10 p.m. at Progressive Field.

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