Rays beat Astros 7-5 in 11 innings Thursday
Before Thursday’s game, Rays manager Joe Maddon made a late-push for shortstop Yunel Escobar to get into the All-Star game.
“I’d like to see a shortstop that is playing better than he is this year,” Maddon said.
You won’t hear any arguments from the Astros, who watched Escobar make several dazzling defensive plays during this series, and then beat them with his bat in the Rays 6-5 11-inning win on the Fourth of July.
Escobar gave Tampa Bay a 5-2 lead in the eight with his two run double to the hill in deep center. And after Joel Peralta gave it away on a three-run homer by Brett Wallace in the bottom half, Escobar made sure the Rays went home winners with an RBI double in the 11th.
The Rays (46-40) took three of four from the worst-in-the-AL Astros (31-55), and have won eight of their last 11 games. They will start a 10-game homestand tonight that will take them into the All-Star break.
Tampa Bay got off to a good start Thursday, with resurgent leadoff hitter Desmond Jennings continuing to be a catalyst, starting the game with a double and scoring on an Evan Longoria groundout. Touted rookie Wil Myers showed off his glove in rightfield, making both a sliding and diving catch in the bottom half.
Righthander Chris Archer, who had hoped to more pitch efficient, delivered a solid six-inning start. He gave up just two hits, one a solo homer by Brett Wallace in the fourth. In the fifth, Archer allowed a single, walk and then a crucial double steal, which led to a go-ahead sacrifice fly by Jake Elmore.
The Rays tied it back up in the seventh, when Yunel Escobar reached on a fielder’s choice, and Jennings moved him to third with his second double of the game. Escobar would come in to score on a wild pitch by Astros starter Jordan Lyles.
It appeared Tampa Bay would head home with a come-from-behind win after its three-run eighth, putting them up 5-2. Longoria walked, and was pinch-run for by Sam Fuld. Myers ripped a double down the left field line, and Kelly Johnson was intentionally walked to load the bases. Jose Lobaton knocked in the go-ahead run with a fielder’s choice, a grounder to second. But it was Escobar who had the big blow, a two-run double off the hill in deep centerfield.
That lead wouldn’t last long, however, as veteran reliever Joel Peralta gave it all back in the bottom half. Peralta walked No. 9 hitter Jake Elmore to start the inning, then gave up a bloop single to center by Jose Altuve. Peralta, notoriously tough against lefties, then watched left-handed hitting Wallace hit a game-tying, three-run homer just over the rightfield wall.
Reliever Kyle Farnsworth and Jamey Wright helped keep the game tied until the 11th. That’s when Jose Lobaton led off with a walk, and advanced to second on a passed ball. Escobar then delivered a double to the rightfield corner, scoring Lobaton for the winning run.