What happened earlier tonight? I’m still trying to wrap my head around it. Jake Odorizzi had a rough start, allowing 6 runs on 9 hits in 6+ innings. John Jaso led off the game with a double only to get thrown out in an ill-advised attempt to take third base. A popup dropped on the infield because James Loney apparently forgot that the baserunner was on second base, not first. Daniel Nava dropped a ball right when it looked like he had made a nice catch. And back to Odorizzi, he allowed 3 runs in the second inning in large part due to extremely questionable pitch selection. So many things went wrong for the Tampa Bay Rays in this game.
But a Kevin Kiermaier groundout brought the Rays within 3-1 and a Grady Sizemore home run off a catwalk later made it 4-2. The Rays pulled within 4-3 on an RBI force play. And after a sac fly and a wild pitch allowed the runners that Alex Colome inherited from Odorizzi to score, the Rays offense started surging. Sizemore doubled, Longoria singled, and Loney doubled to make it 6-4 Atlanta. A Logan Forsythe sac fly made it 6-5, and everything still made sense. A wild pitch scored the tying run as the Rays were unusually lucky with two outs.
Then the craziness continues as Brandon Guyer doubled–maybe that wild pitch wasn’t necessary–and scored on arguably the most bizarre play of the Rays’ season thus far. Braves first baseman (and ex-Rays draft pick) Joey Terdoslavich fielded Kevin Kiermaier’s groundball and flipped to the pitcher Matt Marksberry in time, but Marksberry inexplicably could not find the first base bag. Kiermaier was safe and Guyer hustled to score from second base. Then Curt Casali, who had just missed a home run earlier in the game, drilled a two-run blast off Ryan Kelly to make it 9-6 Rays.
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The Tampa Bay Rays entered this game an astounding 0-26 when giving up at least 6 runs in a game, but make it 1-26 as stout offense and a good deal of fortune allowed them to come back. This was the opposite of a cliche Rays game–it was a slugfest with questionable pitching and sketchy defense–but this Rays team is looking increasingly less normal for this franchise. One thing that is right in line with previous years, though, is the Rays’ place in the standings. The Rays are now just 2 games back of the second Wild Card spot with only the division leaders, the Yankees, and the Angels ahead of them. By the way, they are just 4.5 games back in the AL East–far stranger things have happened than a team overcoming a deficit like that with a month and a half to play.
Desmond Jennings will return on Friday as the Rays hope to keep improving their place in the standings against another Wild Card hopeful, the Texas Rangers. They will be off on Thursday before starting play in Texas at 8:05 PM on Friday night. Martin Perez will go against a yet-to-be-announced Rays pitcher, either Chris Archer or Nate Karns.