Game 49: Cole Figueroa’s Walk-Off Leads Tampa Bay Rays To 1-0 Win

By Drew Jenkins

In baseball, there are two types of wins. One type is when a win just finds you even if you don’t deserve it. The other type is when you bear down and go out and earn yourself a win. This game was one of the latter types, as outstanding pitching performances and some late-innings heroics gave the Tampa Bay Rays a 1-0 win that they very well earned.

In this game, starter Chris Archer showed off just how much he is willing to battle to deliver his team a win. Archer went 6.0 innings, allowing no runs on 4 hits and 4 walks while striking out 11, which tied his career record for strikeouts in a single game. Where Archer really battled was his pitch count, which rose all the way to 119. Joe Maddon realizes the importance of getting this bullpen some consistent rest, and thus Archer was sent back out for the 6th inning despite having thrown 103 pitches heading into it. The Rays asked him to do more than he’s ever had to do in a game, and Archer responded when he was needed most.

The bullpen picked up right where Archer left off, as Jake McGee came in and threw a quick 1-2-3, 5 pitch inning. A pitcher who almost exclusively throws his fastball, McGee even threw a nasty curveball that induced an ugly swing from Brock Holt and resulted in a ground ball to second base. Then, Joel Peralta came on and threw a 1-2-3 inning of his own to keep the game tied at 0-0 heading into the 9th. Juan Carlos Oviedo, not Grant Balfour, pitched the 9th inning with the game tied and he worked around a leadoff single to keep it 0-0. Is the fact that Oviedo pitched this inning a sign that Joe Maddon is starting to sour a bit on Balfour? Only time will tell. Overall an outstanding pitching performance all around so that the Rays could come up with the win.

The offense wasn’t pretty, but there are some positives that can be taken out of this game. First off, Evan Longoria went 3-4. All of his hits were singles as he still struggles to hit for power. But, his bat even for average has been non-existent as of late, so maybe this is finally the performance that he can use to get going. Then, there was rookie Cole Figueroa who came up in the clutch for the Rays’ second walk-off in as many games. Pinch-hitting for Sean Rodriguez in the 9th against righty Burke Badenhop, the left-handed Figueroa smacked just his second big league hit into the right-center gap to end the game. In total, Rays hitters not named Longoria would only manage 3 hits in the game, but luckily the pitching staff was outstanding to allow Figueroa to finish this one of in exciting fashion.

It hasn’t exactly been pretty the last two nights, but the Rays are now finding ways to win. The pitching is falling into place, so now it is the offense’s turn to get going. Hopefully after tonight Longoria can lead he charge. The Rays and Red Sox will play again tomorrow at 4:10 ET as the Rays look to extend their winning streak against their divisional rival to 4. Jake Peavy will take on David Price in a battle of former-ace vs. current-ace. Be sure to come back to Rays Colored Glasses for all the Rays analysis you need.