MIAMI – Tuesday was one of those nights for the Rays, where the good, the bad and the odd seemed to be having a race to see what prevailed.
Good eventually won, as the Rays finally beat the Marlins 9-6 in 16 innings.
The winning rally started when Johnny Field singled off Brett Graves and Carlos Gomez was hit by a pitch, but both were erased on an odd 6-4-5 double play when Kevin Kiermaier hit a smash to shortstop J.T. Riddle.
Kiermaier ended up stealing second and Matt Duffy walked, setting up rookie Jake Bauers to deliver another clutch hit, a double to right that broke the hours-long tie and scored two. The Rays added on when pitcher Vidal Nuno singled in a run for his second hit of the night – though appeared to pull a hamstring – and Daniel Robertson two more.
And then to cap the bizarre night the Rays put catcher Jesus Sucre on the mound to start the 16th, but after he gave up a run turned to Jose Alvarado, with the final out recorded shortly after 12:40 a.m, having played for 5 hours and 31 minutes.
"We're beat up, we got some guys that were hurt, but ultimately to win," manager Kevin Cash said. "We get off to an early start, and then we didn't really play maybe our best, but they found a way. The guys kept grinding through. Both teams grinded a long time, some odd matchups, some unique situations that came about, presented themselves. But ultimately we found a way to win."
Most injured was pitcher Vidal Nuno, who not only have the Rays two solid innings on the mound but got two hits, though he was forced out when he strained his hamstring running to first on the second one.
Having used nine pitchers (including catcher Jesus Sucre to start the 16th), the Rays are looking at adding a couple of fresh arms for Wednesday's 1:10 start, with Nuno going on the DL and perhaps someone else sent down.
Matt Andriese will start on Wednesday.
At 16 innings, it was the longest road game in Rays franchise history and the matched the second longest overall.
"Definitely not how you draw up in a lot of different ways," third baseman Matt Duffy said. "Typically in a 16-inning game there are going to be some ugly things and there was today. We had Sucre start the 16th and they had (pitcher Dan) Straily pinch-hit as the tying run. Obviously not an ideal day but happy to come out with the win."
Here are some of the twists and turns along the way:
* Good: The Rays jumped out to an early 4-0 lead. Wilson Ramos, continuing his push for a likely starting berth on the American League All-Star team, hit a two-run homer in the first off rookie starter Trevor Richards. They doubled it in the second on a string of three straight hits, doubles by Daniel Robertson and Adeiny Hechavarria and a single by Mallex Smith.
* Bad: The Rays couldn't hold that lead. Ryan Yarbrough, getting to make an actual start after scheduled opener Ryne Stanek was used Monday, did his part in the second. He allowed a leadoff single to Justin Bour and a two-out double to J.T. Riddle and, worse, after intentionally walking No. 8 hitter Lewis Brinson, allowed a two-run single to Richards, the opposing starter. Cash gave Yarbrough only three innings before using a pinch-hitter, and Austin Pruitt stepped in and gave up the rest of the lead. He did so quickly in the fifth, allowing a walk, two singles and a sac fly to make it 4-4.
* Good: Kevin Kiermaier pretty much stepped right in front of rightfielder Johnny Field to catch a fly ball and throw a rope to the plate that, with a good tag by Ramos, nailed Brian Anderson to end the fifth with the score tied.
* Odd: Rays outfielder Mallex Smith was taken out of the game after being forced out at second on the front end of an fourth-inning ending double play. The Rays said Smith was not hurt, and there was no word of a trade. Cash said after the game that Smith was taken our for missing a sign, as he was not supposed to be running on the play.
* Good: Rookie reliever Hunter Wood, in his first action since being called back up, looked every bit as improved as Cash said he was supposed to be. Wood worked three innings, allowing only a walk.
* Bad and good: Chaz Roe put two on in the ninth, and eventually had the potential winning run at third, but struck out J.T. Realmuto, twice, actually, given ump Jerry Meals' seemingly missed call on the first one.
* Bad: With a prime chance to score in the 13th with runners on the corners, the Rays got nothing. Johnny Field's fly to right wasn't deep enough, and then Carlos Gomez bunted into a double play, with Daniel Robertson caught breaking from third.
* Odd: Pitcher Vidal Nuno singling down the third-base line in the 15th, racing to second to try to stretch it to a double, sliding in head first and then called out.
* Odder: Nuno singled again in the 16th to drive in a run, but got hurt and had to be replaced, so Monday starter Nathan Eovaldi put on his spikes and pinch-ran, coming around to score a run.
* Bad: Yarbrough again didn't do much with the chance to start. Manager Kevin Cash discounted the statistical imbalance of Yarbrough's increased success as a reliever, a 3.24 ERA and .236 opponents average compared to 5.23 and .263, as a too small a sample size. He said the key for the rookie lefty is simple: "Yarbs throws well when he's willing to throw the ball over the plate and not put himself in bad counts.'' But then Cash didn't show much faith after Yarbrough allowed the two runs by pinch-hitting for him.
Marc Topkin can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow @TBTimes_Rays