ST. PETERSBURG — The Rays are hoping to get Taylor Walls and his steady glove back in the lineup Thursday. The starting shortstop missed his second straight game with a sore groin and the defense barely held on in an 8-6 win over the Red Sox in the 11 innings.
“Better today, but I still would like to stay away from him,” manager Kevin Cash said of Walls before the game. “I’m still hoping maybe that (Thursday) game against Seattle.”
Vidal Brujan, who has started the two games that Walls has missed, had a rough night. That included a Triston Casas popup, where Brujan collided with third baseman Isaac Paredes, allowing the ball to drop and a run score in the seventh. Brujan then deflected a ball to leftfield, which allowed the tying run to score.
“Look that is tough. Brujan was shifted (toward second). Casas is a big-pull lefty, so you got Brujan shifted way over. If we go back and look, Brujan ran a long way to get to that ball,” Cash said. “I’m guessing nobody felt confident that they were going to catch it. That’s why it wasn’t called. And then I don’t know whose glove it hit off of.
“It was unfortunate, they just placed it perfectly.”
Those were just some of the shaky defensive plays the Rays made in the game, something they likely believe the smooth-gloved Walls could help remedy when he returns.
Walls missed 35 games with an oblique strain but ramped up quickly to rejoin the Rays in Cleveland on Friday. He played in two games at Triple-A Durham before returning to the Rays and Cash announcing he would take the majority of starts at short. The Rays are without All-Star Wander Franco, who was placed on paid administrative leave as MLB investigates allegations of inappropriate relationships with minors.
No win with replay
Cash made two appeals to the umpires during the game. The first was on Jonathan Aranda’s second-inning fly ball that was ruled a triple. Cash asked for a crew-chief review to see if the ball hit off one of the catwalk rings in the outfield.
“It was just kind of unique,” Cash said. “The way a couple of outfielders reacted as it was coming down, so I wasn’t sure. If it’s a free challenge, why not?”
In the third inning, however, Cash was not quick enough to ask for a replay review on Randy Arozarena’s fly ball. It looked like Masataka Yoshida had made a great play at the wall to rob the Rays slugger, but TV replays showed it had hit off the top of the wall before the Red Sox leftfielder grabbed it — meaning it should have been in play.
“No, that was on me. I just assumed that he caught it,” Cash said. “I don’t know if it nicked (the wall) or not. I heard that it would have been potentially not a catch.”
Cash tried to ask for the replay eventually, but he had missed his 15-second window.
Margot first steps
Manuel Margot hit in the batting cage before the game, his first time hitting since having surgery to remove loose bodies from his right elbow. The outfielder is expected to continue ramping back up this week.
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“He’s going to finish up this homestand here with us and, if all goes well, we’ll get him out to Durham while we’re on the road,” Cash said. “But he’ll take (batting practice) with us and you’ll see him throwing, playing catch and everything in the coming days out here with us.”
So much for the pitch clock. The game was 3 hours and 57 minutes, the Rays’ longest since playing 4 hours and 6 minutes on Sept. 27, 2022, at Cleveland. … The Rays drew a season-high nine walks. … They are 6-4 in extra-inning games this season.
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