Rays find Choi in another walk-off win

by Gary Shelton on August 19, 2019 · 0 comments

in general, NFL, Tampa Bay Bucs

Brosseau drenches Choi with Gatorade after the win./CHUCK MULLER

Monday, 4 a.m.

The Tampa Bay Rays have a long way to go in this American League Wild-Card race.

At least they're walking off in the right direction, however.

The Rays ended a victory with a walk-off celebration Sunday afternoon, coming back to beat the Detroit Tigers, 5-4, on a one-out single by Ji-Man Choi in the bottom of the ninth. It came only hours after the Rays' Mike Brosseau had ended a 1-0, 13-inning game over Detroit.

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Pham's two-run homer brought the Rays within one./CHUCK MULLER

It was only the second walk-off win provided by Choi, but he seemed to remember how to celebrate. He ran around the field, his arms outstretched, imitating a jet plane. He endured embraces that looked as if they were attempts at wresting takedowns. He bounced, and he grinned, and he slapped palms.

Sogard was on base for Pham's home run./CHUCK MULLER

And who would ever have figured this game would have ended like that?

After seven innings, the Rays didn't have a pulse. They trailed 4-1, and they had had only two hits all day (and not many in the entire series). They seemed as if they were about to fall out of the wild-card standings.

And then they came back.

In the eighth, Eric Sogard beat out the second end of a double-play. That was important, because Tommy Pham then homered to bring the Rays to within a run.

Adames scored the winning run for the Rays./CHUCK MULLER

In the ninth, Choi hit a 1-1 pitch up the middle to knock in Travis d'Arnaud (who had reached on an error) and Willie Adames (who had walked).

It was the team's third walkoff win in its last five games. It was the first time since May of 2014 the team won back-to-back walkoff games  (Oakland-Boston).

The Rays scored four runs over the 8th and 9th innings, twice as

many as their total (2) from the previous 37 innings combined. The Rays hit .182 (4-for-22) with RISP in the series.

Rays' Zunino started behind the plate./CHUCK MULLER

“Pretty exciting moment," said Rays' manager Kevin Cash. "(Choi's) teammates might have been halfway out there before the second run even came across. A lot of excitement. A quiet series in Seattle because of all the lefties and then he really took off in San Diego and it seems like his at-bats, he’s confident at the plate, he’s driving the ball, which is good for us right now.

“You can’t do it too many times. At some point, we need to get a lead for our pitchers a little bit and let them work with a little bit of room to wiggle out of. Certainly we will take these two at this time of the season. Any win you can get is important and these two have been really big.”

The night before, it had been Choi who dumped the winning Gatorade onto Brosseau. Sunday, it was Brosseau dumping it on   Choi.

Trevor Richards made his first start./CHUCK MULLER

“I wasn’t (trying) to be aggressive," Choi said through an interpreter. "I was trying my best to get a (run) for the team and at least tie (the game). I wasn’t trying hard to finish the game, but at least get a hit or a walk to get the score going for the team.

“Both yesterday and today we weren’t able to score from the beginning and we felt bad for the pitchers because they pitched well for the team and they were doing their best to not give up any more runs. We kept on going and never gave up and we were able to bring back the win.”

Matt Duffy prepares to hit./CHUCK MULLER

d'Arnaud scored the tying run off Choi's single.

“I saw he hit the ball hard and it was right back at the pitcher," d'Arnaud said. "Initially, I thought it was through already and Gordon was there and tried to make a good play and once it passed him, I knew we won because Willy had a great jump and I knew he was ready to score.

“The good teams — when they’re down, they don’t give up and they find ways to win. It’s huge to get this season win against the Tigers, four out of six, so that was really big for us.”

The Rays' bullpen had an excellent series. Tampa Bay pitchers this series combined for 49 strikeouts and 3 bases on balls. The Rays have reached double-digit strikeouts in 12 of their last 13 games.

Jose Alvarado got his first win of the year (five losses) despite walking two in his one inning of work.

The Rays will start Brendan McKay in today's game against Seattle. He'll go against the Mariners' Marco Gonzales. The game begins at 7:10 p.m. at Tropicana Field.



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