Lately, if you want to see offense, you tune into Rays games early. Lately, if you wanted to see teams score off of Wade Davis, you tuned in early. (Davis had allowed five runs to the A’s in the first on July 28 and allowed two more runs in the first against the Blue Jays on August fourth.) Neither of those happened as Wade went through the first three frames scoreless. Predictably, Davis walked off the mound in the seventh trailing to the Kansas City Royals 3-2. It’s a funny game. What’s even more funny is that no matter how well Davis pitches, fans have to stay glued to the telecast because an epic comeback is included.
The two men responsible for driving in two runs for the Royals in the fourth had all of 18 career at bats coming into this game. Johnny Giavotella followed a Jeff Francouer double with an RBI triple. Catcher Salvador Perez, making his major league debut tonight, followed him with a sacrifice fly. Melky Cabrera, one of the graybeards at 26 years of age, on this very youthful team, produced the third run with a sacrifice fly. Perez had an outstanding game with his first run batting in and two pickoffs (more on that later).
The Rays did not have as much luck tonight against Royals’ starter Felipe Paulino as they did on July 24 when they tagged him for four runs in 5.2 innings. His only blemish over five innings was a Matt Joyce homer. In the sixth, the Rays pushed across another run when Casey Kotchman took a high fastball and lined it into center field to drive home Ben Zobrist. It was a very nice piece of hitting, made even more impressive that Kotchman stood in there against the lefty sidewinder Tim Collins. The Rays loaded the bases later in the inning, but Joyce popped out to the catcher Perez to end the inning.
Fast forward to the bottom of the eighth where the Rays moved within a run at 4-3. Sam Fuld was on third with one out when Sean Rodriguez missed a bunt attempt. The young catcher Perez threw behind Fuld to pick him off. The Rays couldn’t recover in that inning and when Melky Cabrera gave the Rayals a 7-3 lead in the ninth with a three-run homer, the game looked just about over.
Not on this home stand where walk-offs have become routine.
Joyce and Johnny Damon singled to open the ninth. Joakim Soria was brought in to nail down the game but Evan Longoria followed the lead with an RBI double to draw the Rays within three. Zobrist grounded out to bring home another run. Kotchman followed that with a run-scoring infield single. B.J. Upton, who already has a walk off homer this year, struck out for the second out. That brought up Fuld, trying to make up for getting picked off as the tying run. Boy did he ever. He slammed a Soria cutter into the gap in right center. Right away, it was obvious that pinch-runner Elliot Johnson was going to score on the triple. Fuld dove into third and would say later that he was content to stay there, but third base coach Tom Foley started screaming at him that the ball got away. Fuld leaped up and dove just safe into home. Before he could get up, all his teammates tackled him in a joyous celebration.
Play of the year? No doubt. One of the greatest wins and comebacks you’ll ever see.
Player of the Game: Sam Fuld. Besides the game winning trip around the bases, he had a perfect night with a single and three walks.