Tampa Bay Rays Game 40: Balanced Offense Leads To Win
By Joe Saunders
The Tampa Bay Rays beat the Atlanta Braves 5-3 on Tuesday night thanks to an offensive effort that featured hits from each of the top seven hitters in the lineup. Erasmo Ramirez pitched fairly well and the bullpen did its job to preserve the win.
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Kevin Kiermaier led of the game with a flare down the right field line that fell in and somehow turned it into a triple with some impressive hustle. Steven Souza Jr. singled just past third baseman Pedro Ciriaco to give the Rays the early 1-0 advantage. Unfortunately, the lead would not last long as the Braves loaded the bases in the bottom of the second inning and came away with 3 runs. Andrelton Simmons drew a bases-loaded walk to tie the game at 1 before the Braves went ahead on a Cameron Maybin RBI single. Then Jace Peterson brought the third run home with a groundout to first, putting the Braves up 3-1.
We are used to limited scoring from the Rays, but this game featured something that we have rarely seen from this team: a 3-3 tie after four innings. Evan Longoria singled home Souza in the top of the third to cut the Braves’ advantage to 3-2 before Asdrubal Cabrera‘s long homer to right knotted the game once again. The Rays were able to get Mike Foltynewicz for a few runs, but he looked good to start the fifth, striking out Souza and Longoria. His success proved to be fleeting, though, as the Rays took the lead.
James Loney worked a two-out walk in the fifth. then advanced to second on a wild pitch with Logan Forsythe at the plate. The red-hot Forsythe was not the guy that Foltynewicz wanted at the plate with a man in scoring position, and he proceeded to deliver an RBI single to make it a 4-3 game in favor of the Rays. David DeJesus then hit a booming double to left, scoring Forsythe for a big insurance run.
Erasmo Ramirez was solid in four out of the five innings he pitched. In fact, that rough second inning was the only time that the Braves managed anything of note against him. In that inning, he allowed the only two hits that he gave up all game, the only two walks he surrendered, and also a hit batsman. The lone additional baserunner that he allowed was Cameron Maybin on a hit-by-pitch in the fourth inning. Other than that, he was virtually untouchable in every inning but the second.
Overall on the outing, Ramirez’s changeup was sharp and didn’t allow much solid contact. His final line was 5 innings pitched allowing 3 earned runs on 2 hits, striking out 5 and walking 2. He got up to 80 pitches, his most since April 15th, and will have a better chance of throwing more than five innings in his next start. After a disastrous beginning to his Rays tenure, Ramirez has turned out to be a worthwhile acquisition for Matt Silverman through his work in the bullpen and now the rotation.
The Tampa Bay Rays bullpen had to get 12 outs on Tuesday night and were able to get the job done. Xavier Cedeno got the first two outs in the sixth inning before allowing a double to A.J. Pierzynski, but Brandon Gomes came in to record the final out of the inning. Kevin Jepsen came on in the seventh and had major control issues, working a three-ball count on each of the first three hitters he faced, but he only walked one and was able to battle his way through the inning.
Jake McGee then pitched the eighth and struck out two hitters while working around a Jonny Gomes single in a scoreless inning. McGee looked solid once again in his second outing back from the disabled list, touching 96 MPH several times and looking almost like his old self. Brad Boxberger finished things off with a perfect ninth inning for his 11th save in as many tries. He finished things off by striking out Adonis Garcia on a nasty changeup.
Offensively, the Rays got eight hits, but they could have gotten more had several other well-struck balls not been hit right at fielders. The Rays were able to deliver a strong showing at the plate despite their bad luck, going 3 for 7 with runners in scoring position and leaving just five runners on base. Seven different hitters in the Rays lineup got hits on the night, with Steven Souza Jr. being the only hitter who delivered a multi-hit game. He also stole a base that immediately led to a run, showing off another part of his game.
Defensively, the Rays made all the plays they had to, but the biggest was Logan Forsythe’s impressive throw on the run to get Andrelton Simmons on a chopper in the ninth inning. Brad Boxberger pitched well, but if Forsythe had been unable to make a strong throw from the left side of second base, the inning could have gone quite differently. Kevin Kiermaier also made a good running grab in centerfield.
I was in attendance at Turner Field tonight, and I must that say it’s a shame that there will no longer be baseball games played there past the 2016 season. It’s a great stadium to watch a game thanks to its excellent atmosphere and it will be missed.
With the New York Yankees’ loss to the Washington Nationals, the Tampa Bay Rays are now tied for first place in the American League East. There is still a long way to go in the 2015 season, but it’s definitely encouraging to see the Rays in this position considering all of the injuries that they have suffered. The Rays will play the second and final game of this two-game set in Atlanta tomorrow night at 7:10 PM EST. Jake Odorizzi will be on the mound for the Rays, and he will be opposed by Williams Perez.
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