If the Rays have shown anything this season, it is their resilience. They had to weather losing three of their starting pitchers for extender periods of time and slumps by players that were expected to be integral parts of their offense; yet they have managed to stay alive in their quest for the Wild Card. Tonight’s game against the Texas Rangers showcased that resiliency.
An uncharacteristic defensive miscue led to the first runs of the game. Chris Archer put runners on first and second with two outs, and got a line drive off the bat of Leonys Martin that appeared as though it would be the third out of the inning. However, Desmond Jennings took a couple of steps in and froze before attempting to sprint back for the ball. His leaping attempt came up short, and the ball came down for a two run triple to give the Rangers an early lead.
After the rough second, Archer began to cruise, going through the Rangers lineup with ease, retiring the last nine batters he faced. For the game, Archer allowed two runs on four hits and a walk, striking out six in his six innings of work. He was able to get himself back on track following the second, and kept the Rays in a position to come back.
The Rays had their chances against Texas starter Derek Holland, putting two runners on in the third and fourth innings with two outs. However, Holland was able to get out of both jams, keeping the Rays off the board and preserving the Rangers lead.
Tampa finally broke through in the bottom of the sixth. After Wil Myers singled with one out, Delmon Young hit what appeared to be a tailor made double play grounder. However, the throw to first was wide, allowing Young to reach. Sean Rodriguez made the Rangers pay for the miscue, crushing a home run to left to tie the game.
The game turned into a bullpen matchup once Holland was lifted after the sixth. Each bullpen performed admirably, holding the opponent off the board as the game went into extra innings.
Texas was able to take the lead in the top of the eleventh on another defensive lapse. Elvis Andrus was hit by a pitch, and with two outs, was running when Adrian Beltre poked a soft single to right. Andrus kept going, and when Myers threw the ball casually to the cutoff, managed to beat the relay throw and put the Rangers on top.
Once again, the Rays came back. Down to their last strike against closer Joe Nathan, Matthew Joyce managed to coax a walk. Pinch runner Freddy Guzman came in as a pinch runner, and stole second. David DeJesus, again down to his final strike, singled up the middle to tie the game.
The Rays kept coming. Jose Lobaton, who had been one of the Rays top clutch hitters, singled to lead off the twelfth. Another pinch runner, Sam Fuld, came in and moved to second on a sacrifice bunt, bringing up Jennings. He went from goat to hero in one swing, lining a 1-1 pitch to right for the game winning single, as the Rays moved a game up in the Wild Card standings.
Brandon Gomes picked up the victory, striking out the only batter he faced. Jennings was 3-5 with an RBI. Rodriguez was 2-3 with a double and home run, driving in two.