Advertisement
  1. Sports
  2. /
  3. Rays

Rays reliever Pete Fairbanks relishes first save, chance to quiet ‘idiots in the stands’

Facing former Rangers mates lent motivation. Hearing fans “chirping” made it extra special to close out 5-3 win.
Rays relief pitcher Pete Fairbanks celebrates with catcher Mike Zunino after the team's 5-3 win over the Texas Rangers in 11 innings in Tuesday's game. [RICHARD W. RODRIGUEZ | AP]
Published Sep. 11
Updated Sep. 11

ARLINGTON, Texas — Pete Fairbanks certainly had plenty of motivation Tuesday night to get the final three outs, seal the Rays’ 5-3, 11-inning win over the Rangers and earn his first career save.

It was the first high-leverage chance he’d gotten with his new Rays team since being acquired in July.

It was coming against his former Rangers team, in the stadium he called home after making his June big-league debut.

MORE RAYS: Tampa Bay rallies for 11th-inning win against Texas

It was going to include him facing scrappy infielder Nick Solak, the player the Rays gave up to acquire him.

But it was what he heard from the stands, first some choice remarks from fans while he was warming up in the bullpen, then more directly when he gave up a first-pitch single to start the 11th and missed badly on his his first pitch to the next batter.

"To be able to come back and have that experience and be able to contribute against your old team with the idiots in the stands chirping ‘That’s why we traded you,’ just to kind of get that little bit, that chip on your shoulder, that adds that little bit,'' he said. "I’m not going to say that that never plays a factor. Especially with any athlete, they can say that it doesn’t but there’s always a little bit of that extra fire when you’re playing your old team.''

After giving up the single to Elvis Andrus, Fairbanks got Willie Calhoun to ground into a double play.

MORE RAYS: There’s a lot riding on Blake Snell’s rehab assignment

That brought him face to face with Solak, who has impressed since making his late August debut in the majors. Fairbanks got to 1-1 and threw a 99 mph fastball in on Solak, who grounded it to third for what looked to be the final out, but he hustled down the line and was called safe. The Rays challenged the call and, for reasons that still don’t seem clear, it was ruled to stand.

"I wanted to strike him out,'' Fairbanks said. "I don’t know how he hit that ball. For anyone that’s a competitor, obviously it is a business and he fills a need I didn’t fill. ... From a personal level, put that in the back of your mind and try to get him out, for sure.''

Instead, Fairbanks had to get what essentially was a fourth out, retiring Danny Santana on a ground out, and got the satisfaction on several fronts, noting, "You know how fans are.''

He said the adrenaline carried him after he got the final out, and it probably wasn’t until he was back in the clubhouse that it sunk it what he’d done, and that he had the ball as a memento.

Manager Kevin Cash took a bit of a gamble in using Fairbanks, as he could have sent Emilio Pagan out for a second inning, or opted for Diego Castillo or Andrew Kittredge.

"That’s not an easy thing facing your former team,'' Cash said, “but we need that guy to be good. Hopefully that gets him going in the right direction where we’re showing confidence, go out there and have confidence in yourself to get some big outs for the next three weeks.”


ALSO IN THIS SECTION

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. Flanked by his mother, Michelle Alonso, left, father Peter Alonso (blue shirt, standing), girlfriend Haley Walsh, right, and friends, New York Mets rookie first baseman Pete Alonso, 24, reacts as he finds out he has won the National League Rookie of the Year award on Monday at his home in Tampa.  Alonso, a Plant High graduate, made a grand entrance to the big leagues, hitting a major-league rookie and team-record 53 home runs for the Mets. DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD  |  Tampa Bay Times
    The easiest part of the day for the travel-weary first baseman may have been receiving the prestigious award.
  5. Tampa Bay Rays manager Kevin Cash speaks at a news conference before an Oct. 1 American League wild-card game practice in Oakland, Calif. JEFF CHIU  |  AP
    Marc Topkin: The Twins Rocco Baldelli and Yankees Aaron Boone are the other two finalists for the hard-to-define award.
  6. Tampa Bay Rays second baseman Brandon Lowe (8) is showered with sunflower seeds after hitting a solo homer in the fourth inning against the Houston Astros in Game 3 of the American League Division Series Monday, Oct. 7, 2019 in St. Petersburg. DIRK SHADD  |  Times
    Former Plant High and Florida star Pete Alonso a favorite for NL Rookie of the Year, to be announced Monday
  7. Erik Neander, Tampa Bay Rays senior vice president of baseball operations and general manager, says of the general manager meetings, which start this week, "We’d love to find a way to score a lot more runs without sacrificing run prevention.'' DIRK SHADD  |  Tampa Bay Times
    Rays Tales: Erik Neander says 2019 success provides “a stronger starting point” than they have had in a while. Plus, rumblings.
  8. Manager Kevin Cash has led the Rays to back-to-back seasons of 90 or more victories. He finished third in the American League Manager of the Year voting in 2018 and is one of three finalists again this year with the winner being announced on Tuesday. DIRK SHADD  |  Times
    John Romano: His profile is as low as Tampa Bay’s payroll, but AL Manager of the Year candidate Kevin Cash consistently gets the most out of the Rays.
  9. ALLIE GOULDING   |   Times
Tampa Bay Rays bench coach Matt Quatraro (33) talks to umpire Bruce Dreckman at the bottom of the fourth inning against Texas Rangers on Sunday, June 30, 2019 at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg. 
 ALLIE GOULDING  |  Tampa Bay Times
    The other finalists, per a report, are Astros bench coach Joe Espada and former Phillies manager Gabe Kapler.
  10. Tampa Bay Rays manager Kevin Cash (16) pumps his fist while walking onto the field just prior to taking on the Houston Astros for Game 3 of the American League Division Series in St. Petersburg. DIRK SHADD  |  Times
    Charlie Morton is in the top 3 for the Cy Young Award and Brandon Lowe for Rookie of the Year honors as well.
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement