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Tyler Glasnow makes impressive return, but Rays get walked off by Guardians in 10th

The right-hander works three innings, allowing two hits and a walk and striking out three.
In his return from Tommy John surgery, Tyler Glasnow throws three innings in Cleveland.
In his return from Tommy John surgery, Tyler Glasnow throws three innings in Cleveland. [ RON SCHWANE | AP ]
Published Sep. 29|Updated Sep. 29

CLEVELAND — Rays manager Kevin Cash knew early, after seeing just the initial pitch from Tyler Glasnow, that his return to the mound 60 weeks after Tommy John elbow surgery was going to go well.

“The first 98 (mph) strike, I looked at Kyle (Snyder, the pitching coach), we kind of looked at each other, and it’s a good feeling,” Cash said.

They felt even better as Glasnow worked impressively through three innings on 50 pitches, allowing just a solo homer and a single while striking out three, and when the hard-throwing right-hander lobbied to stay in the game, his first in the majors since June 14, 2021.

“I think it’s good to have him back,” Cash said. “He looked good. Felt good. Very encouraged.

“Probably the best thing was that he was kind of chomping to go back out for the fourth. But we kind of had in our mind three innings. That was it. But really happy with the way he looked in a Rays uniform.”

The rest of Wednesday night didn’t go as well, however, as the Rays got walked off by the Guardians, 2-1 in 10 innings, the second straight day they went overtime after also dealing with a rain delay. Amed Rosario, pinch-hitting after two intentional walks around a sac bunt, laced a winning single on the first pitch he saw from Javy Guerra, the eighth Tampa Bay pitcher.

The Guardians' Amed Rosario (1) celebrates with teammates after hitting a game-winning single off Rays relief pitcher Javy Guerra during the 10th inning.
The Guardians' Amed Rosario (1) celebrates with teammates after hitting a game-winning single off Rays relief pitcher Javy Guerra during the 10th inning. [ RON SCHWANE | AP ]

With the Rays (85-70) battling for a playoff spot and seeding in the three-team American League wild-card field, every loss in the final stretch is painful.

“It’s very tough, especially how important these games are,” outfielder Manuel Margot said via team interpreter Manny Navarro. “We’re trying to come out here and win every single game. But we just go out there and do what we can control, and that’s just the game.”

But the loss didn’t cost the Rays that much, as they could still be popping bottles as soon as tonight to celebrate earning a playoff berth for a fourth straight year.

That’s because the Orioles also lost, reducing to two the Rays’ magic number to clinch, with any combination of Tampa Bay wins and Baltimore losses. Of note, the Orioles play the Red Sox at 1:35 Thursday, so the Rays will know their outcome before they start play at 6:10.

The Rays (85-70) did lose a chance to gain ground on the wild-card-leading Blue Jays, remaining 1½ games back after their loss to the Yankees. The Rays started the day 1½ games ahead of the Mariners, who played late against Texas.

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After failing to score in their 10th, the Rays tried to get to a favorable matchup for Guerra, who is much better against right-handers. So they intentionally walked Andres Gimenez to start the inning. Then after Gabriel Arias bunted the runners up, the Rays also intentionally walked Will Brennan. Then Cleveland had Rosario pinch-hit for Luke Maile, and the game was over after one pitch.

“With Javy just being such a big split guy, wanted to get the righty up there, maybe we get a ground ball that we can get an out on,” Cash said. “So they just kind of had us pinned right there a little bit. With Gimenez leading off the inning, felt like they were going to bunt the next time but didn’t want him to have it in his hands.”

The Rays had only a couple of real chances to break the tie.

They loaded the bases in the seventh just before the 63-minute rain delay, and when they came back, the Guardians infield made a huge play to execute a double play on speedy Jose Siri after he grounded a ball up the middle.

“That was a tough play,’' Margot said. “It couldn’t have gone more perfect for them.’'

“Yeah, really good play by them,’’ Cash said. “It’s certainly uncharacteristic the way he gets down the line. That felt like our one opportunity that we had. And we’ve just we got to find a way to make some more opportunities.’'

Margot doubled to lead off the eighth, but with one out, he tried to steal third and got caught. Margot said he was trying to jump start the stagnant offense with Wander Franco at the plate, potentially setting up a contact play.

“Just something that I was trying to make something happen, Margot said. “Wander being up there, he’s a really good hitter, contact hitter. And the way that we haven’t been able to score many runs, I wanted to make something happen, and it’s easier with someone on third base.’'

Glasnow was the bright spot of the night. He allowed two hits — one a homer to lead off the third by Arias — and one walk, while striking out three and throwing 32 of his 50 pitches for strikes, including on the first pitch to nine of his 11 batters. He hit 99 mph four times, and had command of his fastballl, curve and slider.

“It’s definitely a nice moment, I guess, just to be out there and be healthy,” he said. “Everything felt really good.”

The Rays had no doubt Glasnow would put in all the work and do everything he could to make a successful return. But it was still a matter of walking up the mound and doing so. And, despite all the buildup, he said there were not a lot of nerves or many concerns, just his normal routine.

“I think now that it’s done, it’s definitely a good feeling to take all that time off and come back and pick it up after 14 months,’' Glasnow said. “But in the moment, I felt very similar to like a normal start last year.’'

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