The Tampa Bay Rays were due. They had lost four games in a row, three by two runs or less. They had delivered a pair of incredible comebacks only to fall just short each time. Luck has been against them all season, but maybe that is finally turning around. The Rays overcame a 5-1 deficit as they beat the Boston Red Sox 7-5 on Wednesday night.
Steven Souza staked Nate Karns to a 1-0 lead with a solo homer in the first inning, but that run looked like it would be irrelevant by the time Karns finished. He went 6 inning allowing 5 runs on 7 hits, striking out 3 while walking 4. It is to his credit that he lasted that long in the game, but after worked around a walk each in the first two innings, the Red Sox had their way with him. Fortunately for Karns, his offense was able to pick him up.
A major issue for the Rays has been the lack of production they have received from Asdrubal Cabrera, Evan Longoria, and Desmond Jennings in the 3, 4, and 5 spots in their order. Against Joe Kelly in the sixth inning, however, it was precisely those three hitters who came up with three straight singles to load the bases. Allan Dykstra followed with another single to make it 5-2 Red Sox before Logan Forsythe‘s bases-loaded walk brought the Rays within 5-3.
That was it for Kelly, but the Rays weren’t finished. Brandon Guyer delivered the game-tying hit, a line drive single to right-center on an 0-2 pitch to knot the game at 5. Red Sox manager John Farrell brought in lefty Craig Breslow to face Kevin Kiermaier, but Cash countered by pinch-hitting with Guyer and the move worked to perfection. Guyer is on this team to hit left-handed pitching, and nice job by Cash not having too long of a leash with Kiermaier and putting his team in the best possible situation.
Then the Rays went ahead in the following frame. After Cabrera and Longoria hit two more singles to begin the inning, Cabrera scored when Jennings grounded into a double play. That was the go-ahead run, but Jake Elmore added some flash in his first Rays plate appearance, drilling a solo home run. Elmore’s first game with the team certainly leaves a better taste in the Rays’ mouth than Ryan Brett‘s last.
More credit is due to Kevin Cash for the way he handled the Rays bullpen. He brought in Brad Boxberger to face the middle of the Red Sox order in the seventh inning and watched him strike out the side. Boxberger is the Rays’ closer in theory, but that seventh inning was a major turning point in the game as the Rays hoped to keep the game tied and Boxberger delivered as hoped. Kevin Jepsen and Steve Geltz then allowed just a baserunner each to close out the victory.
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The Rays desperately need Cabrera, Longoria, and Jennings to find themselves, and that process may be underway. Each went 2 for 4 in this game, and Cabrera scored two runs while Longoria and Jennings scored one each. All of their hits were singles–the Rays are hoping for some more pop–but the base knocks have to start somewhere. The Rays have gotten major contributions from some surprising candidates, and if the middle of the order can get going to add to that, this offense could be good enough.
The win takes the Tampa Bay Rays to 7-8 on the year, and they will close out their three-game set with Boston tomorrow night at 7:10 PM. Jake Odorizzi will match up against Clay Buchholz as he hopes to lead his team to a series victory, something that seemed impossible as recently as the top of the sixth inning of Wednesday’s game.