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Tampa Bay Rays Game 109: Evan Longoria Shines in Loss

By Robbie Knopf
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The Tampa Bay Rays simply cannot win extra-inning games despite a seemingly strong bullpen as they are now just 2-8 in such games. Brad Boxberger is especially a train wreck in extras, entering this contest having allowed an unbelievably bad .444/.524/.667 line in 22 batters faced. Those numbers only went up as he took the loss on Wednesday afternoon, with his strikeout to walk ratio in such situations going to 3-6. But let’s not be so negative about this game. Though Boxberger’s tie-game struggles are annoying, the Rays played extremely well after a rough first inning to deliver a nice showing once again.

Erasmo Ramirez‘s beginning to this game was as bad as it gets: walk, single, RBI single, RBI double,three-run home run. However, Evan Longoria made a leaping grab to start an inning-ending double play later in the inning, and Ramriez found himself after that. He finished allowing just those 5 first-inning runs on 6 hits in 6 innings, striking out 2 while walking 2. He had far from his best stuff, but he found a way to battle and keep the Rays in this game. And given the way that the offense was playing, 5-0 with eight more times left to bat was far from impossible to overcome.

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With two outs and nobody on in the third inning, Evan Longoria went down and got a breaking ball from Chicago White Sox starter Carlos Rodon and turned it into a double. Logan Forsythe followed with another double before Asdrubal Cabrera blooped a single, and suddenly it was 5-2. Longoria made it 5-3 with a home run to centerfield in the fifth inning, and after Forsythe walked, Cabrera delivered a more legitimate hit, a line drive RBI double. Then, after a missed opportunity in the seventh after Cabrera got too far past first and was tagged out, Curt Casali singled and Brandon Guyer followed with an RBI double to tie the game at 5.

Longoria finished the game 3 for 5 as he looked as good as we have seen him all season, and Cabrera actually finished 4 for 5. Longoria wasn’t just clobbering mistakes–that slider was a fine pitch from Rodon while the fastball on which he homered was away far enough that he would usually just foul it off. Cabrera did have a tough moment in the 10th when he tried to tag Adam Eaton before the ball was firmly in his glove, allowing the ball to hit him in the head and roll away to move Eaton to third base. Cabrera later left the game, although Kevin Cash told the media that he had a contusion, not a concussion, and would be fine.

Finally, we have the most improbable part of the game, the bottom of the ninth inning. Even after retiring both batters he faced on Monday, Brandon Gomes entered this game with just an 8.53 ERA and 7 walks against 4 strikeouts in his previous 15 appearances. So Cash, of course, brings him into a tie game in the ninth inning. What does he do? He tosses a perfect inning with 2 strikeouts. We will have to see if this was a complete outlier or the start of a real adjustment, but that was fascinating to see.

The Tampa Bay Rays will be off on Thursday before returning home to take on the New York Mets. The series opener will be at 7:10 PM on Friday with Jake Odorizzi set to take the mound against budding superstar right-hander Jacob deGrom.

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