Rays’ big inning leads to sweep of Angels

by Gary Shelton on May 7, 2021

in general

Zunino had a single and a home run in Rays' effort./TIM WIRT

Friday, 4 a.m.

Turns out, it isn't just the current Rays' manager who gets criticized for pulling a pitcher who is control of the game.

Turns out, the former Rays' manager does the same thing.

The Rays spent 6 2/3 innings of Thursday night’s game against the Los Angeles Angels stuffed tightly in the back pocket of pitcher Andrew Heaney. Yes, Heaney had given up four hits, but he had struck out 10 and had a shutout going.

And then Angels’ manager Joe Madden pulled Heaney, and someone turned on the lights.

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The Rays erupted for eight runs after their next four outs, turning the game around and winning an 8-3 victory. The win allowed the Rays to get a four-game sweep of the Angels in which they scored 36 runs and had 32 hits.

Odd, but for most of the night, no one could have predicted another offensive surge by the Rays. They came in tied for second in the American League in offensive strikeouts (by three), and for most of the night, they seemed intent on taking over the top slot.

Then Heaney was gone, and suddenly, the Rays were a fireworks show. They went from helpless to relentless, from being a team that could not hit a tree with an ax to being a team that couldn’t miss.

Catcher Mike Zunino started it when, immediately after Heaney left the game, he launched his sixth home run of the year.

“It helped a lot when Z got a pitch,” said Rays’ manager Kevin Cash. He was ready and hit it a long way. When you’re going quiet, sometimes the pitcher is in such a good rhythm — and Heaney was — it helps to throw a wrinkle in there with the home run. It put us on the board and kind of jolted us in the dugout. Guys fed off of it.”

Then came the eighth, when the team scored seven runs on seven hits, two walks, three stolen bases and a wild pitch. It was the Rays’ biggest inning of the year.

In the inning, Manuel Margot singled in the tying run with a hit to right, then scored the go-ahead run from second base. He was off to steal third on the pitch, and when it went wild, he kept coming and scored. Outfielder Brett Phillips had a single and a double in the inning and knocked in two runs.

Phillips had three hits for the night and is now hitting 244 on the season. On April 19, he was hitting .100.

The Rays had a nice start from Collin McHugh, who went two innings and struck out five. Josh Fleming came on the get to win, but he gave up three runs in his first inning until settling down.

The Rays have now won five in a row and are 18-15, three games above .500.

They now travel to Oakland to play the A’s at 9:40 p.m. tonight. Rich Hill will start for the Rays against Sean Manaea.


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