Now Erasmo Ramirez is out. His start began well as he had allowed 2 hits and no walks in 3+ shutout innings, striking out 2, but something went wrong and he needed to leave the game. As it turned out, he had suffered a right groin strain, and for a Tampa Bay Rays team already low on pitching depth, they can ill afford another pitcher going down. Luckily, the injury is apparently not severe, and the Rays still found a way to win their fourth straight game and eighth in their last nine contests.
Logan Forsythe has delivered a breakout season and Steven Souza Jr. has impressed as a rookie, but it feels like something is off unless Evan Longoria is leading the Rays in RBIs. After his three-run homer off of Corey Kluber in the first inning, his seventh of the season, he made that true once again. Kluber, the reining AL Cy Young Award winner, was not at his best early, walking Kevin Kiermaier to lead off the game before Joey Butler singled. Longoria’s blast ensured that they would seize the opportunity, and it proved to be the difference in the game.
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David DeJesus plated the fourth Rays run in the third inning on a somewhat bizarre play. The bases were loaded when DeJesus hit a line drive towards first base. Longoria, the runner at first, went back towards the bag thinking that Indians first baseman Carlos Santana would catch the ball, but instead it got by him and went into right field. Kiermaier scored easily from third, but Longoria got to second base just behind the throw from right fielder Brandon Moss for the force. Because of the force out on the play, DeJesus did not get credit for the hit, but the Rays were just glad to get the extra run.
After Ramirez left the game, Xavier Cedeno escaped the fourth inning with a big strikeout off Moss, Ronald Belisario worked around a double and a wild pitch to toss two shutout frames, and Steve Geltz struck out 2 in a perfect seventh. Belisario has looked very good since returning to the major leagues. Although his Triple-A numbers were unimpressive, any pitcher will see a bump in performance going from a high-leverage role to one with less pressure, and he also may be more exhilarated pitching at the game’s highest level.
The end of the game get dicey for the bullpen as Brandon Gomes allowed a run in the eighth and Brad Boxberger let the Indians load the bases in the ninth, but Boxberger struck out Giovanny Urshela to end the game as the Tampa Bay Rays won 4-1. The Rays are now at 40-30 on the season, and though the Yankees keep winning, the Rays are still 1 game ahead of them in the AL East. Tomorrow, the Rays will go for the sweep of Cleveland at 1:10 PM EST, with Alex Colome taking the hill against Cody Anderson, who will be making his MLB debut.