Advertisement
  1. Sports
  2. /
  3. Rays

Rays hit their way out of a pinch to beat Angels

Three pinch hitters, one pinch runner help Tampa Bay snap a three-game losing streak
Rays first baseman Yandy Diaz helped key the Rays rally in the sixth inning en route to a 9-4 victory over the Angels. MONICA HERNDON | Times
Published Jun. 15
Updated Jun. 15

ST. PETERSBURG — The ace of the Rays staff had made a really early exit, the visiting Angels had built a four-run lead and Tampa Bay could boast of only one hit as it entered the sixth inning Friday night.

One inning later, utter joy filled Tropicana Field. Rays fans did the wave and LL Cool J’s Mama Said Knock You Out pumped through the speakers. The Rays were on their way to knocking out the Angels.

In a snap, the Rays snapped a three-game losing streak and retook first place in the AL East with a 9-4 victory over Los Angeles before a Pride Night crowd of 21,598.

How did they do it? Rays manager Kevin Cash turned to his bench to get his team out of the pinch. Three pinch hitters and one pinch runner later, the Rays had taken the lead and set the stage for a return-to-first party. Tampa Bay (42-27) now is a half game ahead of New York.

Austin Meadows, who had gone four games and 14 at-bats without a hit, doubled down the right field line to start the rally in the sixth. Yandy Diaz followed with an RBI single.

Then came the parade of pinch hitters. Ji-Man Choi, batting for Willy Adames, singled to send Diaz to third. Brandon Lowe, batting for Daniel Robertson, struckout, but it didn’t matter. After a Joey Wendle fly out, Kevin Kiermaier, batting for catcher Mike Zunino, singled to bring home Diaz.

Catcher Travis d’Arnaud filled in as a pinch runner after Guillermo Heredia got hit by a pitch. Avisail Garcia singled to score Choi and Kiermaier and Tommy Pham followed with an RBI single to score d’Arnaud.

The rally just didn’t change the score and put Tampa Bay up 5-4, it altered the mood from flat to fiesta. The Rays had chased lefthanded starter Andrew Heaney, who went five innings (3 2/3 without giving up a hit) and tapped into a bullpen that came into the game with a 4.46 ERA.

The feast continued in the seventh with the Rays adding four more runs on a two-run homer by Choi, an RBI double by d’Arnaud and an RBI single by Pham.

The celebration all but blighted the team’s feckless beginning and ineffective start by Blake Snell. The Rays escaped with the win, but if they’re going to keep pace with the Yankees, they have to get Snell back on track.

On Friday, Snell appeared far from the form that made him one of the American League’s best pitchers last year. The left hander exited against the Angels after only 79 pitches and 3 1/3 innings. He struggled from the beginning, allowing two runs in the first on a sacrifice fly by first baseman Albert Pujols and an RBI single by leftfielder Cesar Puello.

The Angels added runs in the second and fourth, with the third serving as Snell’s only clean inning. Snell entered the game 2-2 with a 2.88 ERA in his last seven starts since allowing a career-high seven runs on May 1 at Kansas City. In four of those starts, he yielded one run or less. Those are good numbers, but not great. Snell seems to have some uncertainty about how to deploy his arsenal of pitches, particularly the fastball.

“We try to stay away from second-guessing how he goes about using (his fastball)," Cash said before the game. “You never know how a pitcher feels about a certain pitch going into a start. I know that we really value all four of his pitches and however he sees fit.”

Snell will be a focus in four days. For now, the Rays have to hope it’s ended its offensive scuffle that saw it score three runs or less in its last three outings. They’ll look to make it two wins in a row with Charlie Morton (8-0) taking the mound at 1:10 p.m.

Contact Ernest Hooper at ehooper@tampabay.com. Follow @hoop4you.

ALSO IN THIS SECTION

  1. Pat Williams is the former GM of the Orlando Magic basketball team and was involved in unsuccessful efforts to lure an expansion team in the 1990s. JASON DECROW  |  AP
    Longtime sports exec Pat Williams is holding a news conference Wednesday to talk about getting a team.
  2. Tampa Bay Rays' Carlos Pena hits a sixth-inning solo home run off New York Yankees pitcher Sidney Ponson in their baseball game at Yankee Stadium on July 9, 2008. KATHY WILLENS  |  AP
    Just the other day, Pena’s son asked him about being considered for the Hall.
  3. FILE - In this Sept. 20, 2019, file photo, Miami Marlins CEO Derek Jeter smiles as he speaks during a news conference in Miami. Derek Jeter is among 18 newcomers on the 2020 Hall of Fame ballot, announced Monday, Nov. 18, 2019, and is likely to be an overwhelming choice to join former New York Yankees teammate Mariano Rivera in Cooperstown after the reliever last year became the first unanimous pick by the Baseball Writers' Association of America. (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee, File) WILFREDO LEE  |  AP
    Former Rays Carlos Pena and Heath Bell are also among the 18 up for election for the first time.
  4. Long faces dominate some of the remaining Tampa Bay Buccaneers fans during the fourth quarter of the game between the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the New Orleans Saints at Raymond James Stadium on Sunday, November 17, 2019, in Tampa. DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD  |  Tampa Bay Times
    Sports Day Tampa Bay podcast: What remaining game will Tampa Bay be favored to win?
  5. The cover of the book Grassroots Baseball: Where Legends Begin Courtesy Jean Fruth
    The 224-page book features a chapter on Tampa, and an essay by Hall of Famer Wade Boggs.
  6. Tampa Bay Rays starting pitcher Blake Snell (4) delivers a pitch in the fourth inning against the Houston Astros in Game 5 of the American League Division Series on Oct. 10 in Houston. DIRK SHADD  |  Times
    Rays Tales: Team execs on Houston’s big problem, a base for winter acquisitions, trophy time and an upcoming owners meeting.
  7. Jameis Winston (3) points to fans after the Bucs' 2017 victory over the New Orleans Saints. Tampa Bay Times
    Sports Day Tampa Bay podcast: Previewing Bucs-Saints, justice for the Astros, answers for the Lightning.
  8. FILE - In this July 24, 2019, file photo, Houston Astros starting pitcher Justin Verlander throws to an Oakland Athletics batter during a baseball game in Houston. Verlander has been awarded his second AL Cy Young Award. MICHAEL WYKE  |  AP
    The Mets’ Jacob deGrom wins the NL award for the second straight year.
  9. Tampa Bay Rays manager Kevin Cash talks with reporters in the dugout the day after clinching a playoff spot. DIRK SHADD  |  Times
    Former Ray Rocco Baldelli wins top honors after his first season with the Twins, Aaron Boone was second.
  10. Erik Neander, Tampa Bay Rays senior vice president of baseball operations and general manager, addresses the media during a press conference at Tropicana Field Friday, Oct. 11, 2019 in St. Petersburg. DIRK SHADD  |  Tampa Bay Times
    Award came from a vote of team executives; Yankees Cashman was second.
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement