Tampa Bay Rays split with Nationals in the battle of Montreal

Is it fair to call it the battle of Montreal? I think so. The former Montreal Expos traveled to St. Pete to take on Montreal’s possible next MLB franchise for a quick two-game series that wrapped up on Wednesday.

After the series, the Tampa Bay Rays saw their AL East lead expand to 1.5 games over the Boston Red Sox, who will take on the Houston Astros on Thursday night. The Rays will be off Thursday, and welcome in the Baltimore Orioles on Friday. The Orioles, by the way, have either scored, or allowed, 10+ runs in their last four games.

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The battle of Montreal: Game One

Game one was dominated by Rays ace, Tyler Glasnow. Glasnow tossed seven innings, allowing one run, on six hits, striking out 11. After the outing, Glasnow moved into first place in the entire league in hits per 9 innings pitched. Glasnow allows only 5.571 hits per nine innings.

On the offensive side of the ball, the Rays were propelled by a big fifth inning. After back-to-back walks of Austin Meadows and Randy Arozarena, Mike Brosseau made Nationals pitcher Wander Suero pay.

The Nationals went to the bullpen after Brosseau gave the Rays the lead, and that didn’t work either. Mike Zunino came through with the two-RBI single, giving the Rays a 3-1 lead. The Rays would go on to win by that score.

The battle of Montreal: Game Two

Game one of the series was low-scoring, game two was not. Five combined runs in the first inning for the Nats and Rays on Wednesday. Juan Soto took Shane McClanahan deep giving the Nats a 2-0 lead, but the Rays got it right back after a Randy Arozarena two-RBI single, and Mike Brosseau sac fly.

The game stayed 3-2 until the third, when “Mr. National” Ryan Zimmerman took McClanahan deep, tying the game. McClanahan would see his day done after just three innings, allowing three runs, on five hits. This marked back-to-back starts McClanahan has pitched under four innings, allowed five hits, and three or more runs.

The game stayed tied until the fifth when Zimmerman did it again.

The Nats held the 5-3 lead until the seventh, but their bullpen failed them again. Taylor Walls led off the bottom of the seventh with his first career MLB home run to put the Rays within one.

A similar story in the bottom on the eighth, but this time it was Joey Wendle.

After the Wendle homer, the game stayed tied through the ninth, and all 7,000+ fans in attendance got to see some free baseball.

The Nats struck first in extras, Yan Gomes plated Josh Harrison with an RBI single off Andrew Kittredge, and a Kyle Schwarber sac fly gave the Nats a two-run lead, 7-5.

However, the Rays don’t quit. After a shaky ninth, Nationals closer Brad Hand stayed on to try and finish the Rays. But that didn’t happen. Arozarena wasted no time, ripping a triple off Hand, scoring Meadows, who started on second base due to the extra-inning rules, cutting the Nats lead to one, with Arozarena on third.

The very next batter, Joey Wendle, was clutch again. Wendle ripped an RBI single off Hand, tying the game at seven. The Rays couldn’t push across the game-winner, so another inning of free baseball was upon us.

Diego Castillo, who picked up the save in game one, came on for the Rays in the 11th. And just as the Rays did in the 10th, the Nats did in the 11th. Starlin Castro led off the inning for the Nats with an RBI double, scoring Jordy Mercer who started on second.

A Josh Harrison sac fly gave the Nats a 9-7 lead, and the Tampa Bay Rays once again needed two in the bottom of the inning.

However, this time they couldn’t even get one.

The Rays are off on Thursday, and will start a three-game set with the Orioles on Friday at Tropicana Field. The first pitch is set for 7:10 PM EST and is expected from Ryan Yarbrough. He will be opposed by Orioles lefty, Keegan Akin.