Heading into tonight’s game, the Tampa Bay Rays had won their last thirty one straight when scoring five or more runs. Tonight, they extended to streak to thirty two, but made it interesting.
David Price faced off against Hiroki Kuroda, in what promised to be a pitching duel. Price held up his end of the billing, however the Rays jumped on Kuroda early and often. In the bottom of the first, Desmond Jennings reached on an error by Eduardo Nunez. He stole second as Carlos Pena struck out for the second out of the inning. Kuroda would then walk Matt Joyce and Ben Zobrist before Luke Scott hit a two run single to give the Rays a 2-0 lead. Kuroda then retired Jeff Keppinger to escape further damage.
In the bottom of the second, Jose Lobaton led off the inning with a double. After getting Reid Brignac and Jennings out, Kuroda gave up a single to Opening Day hero Carlos Pena, giving the Rays a 3-0 lead. Matt Joyce then led off the bottom of the third inning with a solo home run, putting the Rays up 4-0.
The Yankees would get on the board in the top of the fourth inning. With two outs, Price gave up a single to Curtis Granderson, who advanced to second on a wild pitch. Andruw Jones hit an RBI single, cutting the Rays lead to 4-1. Lobaton attempted to pick off Jones from first, catching everyone, including Carlos Pena, completely off guard. Jones would go to third on the errant throw. Russell Martin walked, putting runners at the corner. Nunez would then partially atone for his miscue in the first by hitting an RBI single, cutting the lead to 4-2. Price then retired Derek Jeter to end the inning.
Both pitchers would then settle in until the bottom of the sixth inning. Ben Zobrist led off with a double, which was followed by an RBI double by Scott, putting the Rays up 5-2. Scott would advance to third on a Keppinger ground out. After getting Lobaton to pop out to second, Brignac drew a walk, bringing up Jennings again. This time, Jennings hit an RBI single, giving the Rays a 6-2 lead, and signalling the end of the night for Kuroda. Clay Rapada would enter the game, and would get Jennings in a run down. During the run down, Brignac was picked off of third by a head’s up play by Robinson Cano, ending the inning. Kurado would end up with 5.2 innings pitched, giving up six runs (four earned) on eight hits and four walks, while only striking out two batters.
Price began the top of the seventh by walking Russell Martin, then striking out Nunez. Burke Badenhop then entered, and similar to Friday, threw one pitch and induced a ground ball. This time, he got Jeter to hit into an inning ending double play. Price ended up with 6.1 innings pitched, giving up two earned runs on five hits and four walks, while striking out five.
Rapada came out to start the bottom of the seventh inning, and was thoroughly ineffective. Pena drew a leadoff walk, bringing Evan Longoria to the plate. Longoria hit what appeared to be a two run home run, giving the Rays an 8-2 lead. However, the play was reviewed, and fan interference was called. Pena would be placed at third base, and Longoria would be credited with a double. Both runs would end up back on the board with the next batter, as Joyce hit a two run single. Following a Zobrist walk, Rapada got Scott to fly out to right, with Joyce taking third on the play. Rapada was then pulled for Cory Wade, who induced Sean Rodriguez (who came in as a defensive replacement for Keppinger) to pop out to short before striking out Lobaton to end the threat.
In the top of the eighth inning, Josh Lueke was brought in. He walked Nick Swisher to lead off the inning, then gave up a double to Cano. Lueke then was able to get Alex Rodriguez to foul out to first base. Mark Teixeira then hit a line drive directly into the shift, where Sean Rodriguez had an easy play, and flipped the ball to second to double off Cano.
Wade came out for the bottom of the eighth, and set the Rays down in order. Brignac flied out to right, then he struck out Jennings and Pena to close the door. Like Wade, Lueke was brought out for the top of the ninth; however, he was not nearly as successful. Curtis Granderson led off with a fly ball to left that glanced off of Matt Joyce’s glove. Granderson would end up at third, credited with a triple. Raul Ibanez pinch hit for Jones, and hit a line drive to center, scoring Granderson and cutting the lead to 8-3. Martin would draw a walk, bringing up yet another pinch hitter in Eric Chavez. Hitting for Nunez, Chavez hit a single to right center. This would end Lueke’s night, as Joel Peralta was brought in.
Peralta fell behind Jeter, as Lueke had with every batter he faced, before coming back to get the strike out. He would then fall behind Swisher 1-0, before Swisher hit the next offering into the right field bleachers for a three run home run. With the score now 8-6 Tampa, Joe Maddon brought in Jake McGee. McGee would fall behind Cano, before eventually walking him. McGee’s night was done, as there had now been eleven straight batters who had not seen a strike on the first pitch. Fernando Rodney was brought in to face Alex Rodriguez to close out the game. Rodney was able to do just that, throwing one pitch and getting Rodriguez to ground out to second to end the game, preserving an 8-6 victory for the Rays.
Much like on Opening Day, tonight’s game was exciting. Here, the Rays jumped out to an early lead before fending off a late Yankees rally.