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Tampa Bay Rays Game 144: Nick Franklin Finally a Hero

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Expectations were high for Nick Franklin in his first full season with the Tampa Bay Rays, but injuries and then poor performance caused him to end up at Triple-A. 2015 will certainly go down as a disappointment for him, but he achieved a measure of redemption in this game, drilling a go-ahead home run to lead the Rays over the New York Yankees.

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Franklin entered the game in the top of the fifth after Asdrubal Cabrera left the contest with a left knee strain. He is day to day. In any event, Franklin made an error on Didi Gregorius‘ groundball on the very first Yankee batter in the fifth and Rays fans had to be thinking “Here we go again.” Then Franklin came up to the plate for the first at-bat in the bottom of the sixth. He was facing Nick Rumbelow, who had struck out Steven Souza Jr. and Evan Longoria to escape the fifth before giving up a groundball single to Logan Forsythe to start the sixth. Rumbelow hung a changeup, and Franklin drilled a no-doubt home run into the right field seats. Suddenly the Rays were ahead 4-3, and they didn’t look back. It was a big moment for Franklin, and he needs a lot more where that came from.

Earlier in the game, Jake Odorizzi had a start quite reminiscent of his last outing against the Yankees, but was able to battle to do a little bit better. He gave up just 3 hits in 6 innings, but 2 of them were home runs to account for three New York runs. Odorizzi didn’t have much on his secondary pitches in the game–he had issues spotting his splitter for strikes and didn’t have anything at all on his slider/cutter–and as he became increasingly reliant on his fastball, the Yankees were ready when he made mistakes. Even so, Odorizzi deserves credit for keeping the Rays in the game, and they found a way to come back.

Enny Romero and Alex Colome were able to toss shutout innings behind Odorizzi, each allowing a baserunner by being the beneficiary of a great defensive play. Kevin Kiermaier made a nice running catch in left-center to help Romero before Souza dived to save Colome and the Rays more heartache. Then Brandon Gomes entered for the ninth in place of the tired (not to mention inconsistent) Brad Boxberger, but thankfully the Rays had tacked on two insurance runs on a bloop single by J.P. Arencibia in the bottom of the eighth.

It looked like the Tampa Bay Rays would need every bit of that insurance as the Yankees once again rallied with two outs and nobody on. Dustin Ackley singled before James Loney made an error on Jacoby Ellsbury‘s sharp groundball, giving New York runners on second and third. However, Gomes got Brett Gardner to fly out as he recorded his first major league save and sealed the Rays’ 6-3 victory.

The Rays will hope to win their series with the Yankees tomorrow at 7:10 PM as Chris Archer hopes to get past his recent rough results with Luis Severino on the other side.

Next: Tampa Bay Rays MiLB Recap: Stone Crabs Clinch Title

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