Rays win wacky game against Cleveland

by Gary Shelton on July 6, 2021

in general

Diaz hit a fielder's choice for the walk-off win./CHUCK MULLER

Tuesday, 3 a.m.

You can analyze it if you wish. You can compare the metrics, and you can hold it up the light. Still, it comes down to this:

Coming from behind is better than falling from ahead.

Ask the Tampa Bay Rays, who managed to fit both into their evening on Monday night in a 9-8 victory over the Cleveland Indians. Yandy Diaz hit a bases loaded grounder that scored Randy Arozarena, and the Rays won their second straight game.

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For most of the night, it seemed as if Tampa Bay had let one slide between its fingers. The Rays jumped ahead a 4-0 on a grand slam by Brandon Lowe and led 5-1 going into the fifth inning. Cleveland, however, scored seven straight runs.

The Rays closed to within a run going into the ninth inning and scored twice. Rookie Wander Franco singled in the tying run, and Diaz grounder to first allowed the winning run to score. It was the first walk-off RBI ever for Diaz.

In the ninth, both Arozarena and Franco were behind 0-2. Both came back to single.

"Those were tremendous at-bats," Diaz said. "To me, those were the at-bats that won the ballgame."

The Rays scored the first four runs and the last four in the game.

"You kind of got the sense it was going to  be one of those games," said Rays' manager Kevin Cash. "When they separated and got the three run lead, as good as their bullpen is, we knew we had kind of an uphill climb. Give the guys a ton of credit for staying at it.  We did have some hard hits balls but didn’t have a lot to show for it after Brandon’s grand slam. They came back and pieced it together against a pretty elite bullpen that has done some special things this year."

The Rays pulled starter Rich Hill after 3 2/3 innings (after just three hits an done earned run), Cash said, because of the matchup. But reliever Drew Rasmussen allowed five hits and four earned runs in his single inning. Jeffrey Springs gave up one and J.P. Feyereisen two in two-thirds of an inning each.

The Rays' bullpen has allowed 36 hits and 27 runs in its last 20.2 innings pitched. Rays' pitchers have allowed five runs (or more) in 10 of their last 17 games and eight runs (or more) in five of those contests. The Rays have pitched to a 5.09 ERA (150.1-IP, 85-ER) over that span.

Outfielder Manuel Margot had four hits for the Rays.

Tampa Bay's game that was scheduled for today has been canceled because of Tropical Storm Edna. The teams will play a double header beginning at 12:10 p.m. at Tropicana Field. Michael Wacha will pitch against J.C. Mejia in the first game.

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