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Tampa Bay Rays Game 111: Bats Surge Against Syndergaard

By Robbie Knopf
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It may have been the lowest point in the Tampa Bay Rays’ season. Fresh off a heartbreaking defeat on Friday night, the Rays saw their second game against the New York Mets begin with more frustration. After four batters and just eight pitches, Nate Karns had allowed a home run, a double, a single, and another double to give the Mets a 3-0 lead. The Rays had entered the ninth inning of last night’s game certainly expecting to win, but their fans were wondering whether their team could win even one game against the red-hot Mets.

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Then Karns got out of the frame without allowing another run before everything turned around in the bottom of the first inning. John Jaso doubled off impressive rookie Noah Syndergaard before Grady Sizemore continued his inexplicable success with a two-run home run to make it 3-2. Syndergaard was able to retire Evan Longoria and Logan Forsythe before and after James Loney‘s single, but Asdrubal Cabrera delivered a two-out hit to move Loney to second base. Daniel Nava followed with another hit, but when the slow-footed Loney stopped at third, fans had to wonder whether Rays would get him in. As it turns out, Loney and Cabrera both trotted home on Kevin Kiermaier‘s two-run double to make it 4-3 Rays.

Curtis Granderson drilled his second home run in as many innings to start the second as the Mets tied the game at 4, but the Rays took a 5-4 advantage in the fourth under interesting circumstances. Jaso walked with one out, and despite not being known for his speed, he read Syndergaard’s delivery well and stole second base. He then moved to third on a two-out wild pitch before Longoria hit a soft groundball to third. Longoria was running hard and took advantage of an indirect route to the ball and a double-clutch by Wilmer Flores to single and give the Rays the lead.

Karns’ start wound up being quite reminiscent of his first start of the season as he pitched very well after that rough first frame. He finished with 5 innings allowing 4 runs on 8 hits, striking out 8 while walking 2. The Rays’ bullpen had its issues yesterday, but they were flawless in this game as Xavier Cedeno, Steve Geltz, Jake McGee, and Brad Boxberger each tossed a perfect frame. The lefties Cedeno and McGee struck out the side. It was great to see the relief corps rebound and hopefully everyone–especially Boxberger–can gain some confidence.

Other things worth noting in the game came on the basepaths and the injury front. Asdrubal Cabrera, another not-so-fast Ray, joined Jaso by also stealing a base. Opposing basestalers entered this game having been successful 9 times in 10 attempts against Syndergaard, and the Rays took full advantage. On the negative side, Curt Casali left the game after being struck by a backswing but appears to be alright while Kevin Kiermaier hurt his thumb when he slid into second base (feet-first) on his two-run hit. It’s great that he remained in the game, but he did appear to be affected in his subsequent at-bats.

In any event, it was great to see the Tampa Bay Rays’ offense continue to be formidable to lead the team to a satisfying victory. The Rays will hope to take 2 of 3 from the Mets tomorrow as Chris Archer goes against Bartolo Colon in a game set to begin at 1:10 PM EST.

Next: Tampa Bay Rays: Thoughts From Friday’s Games

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