Rays step it up, tame Tigers 7-4

The Motor City men put up another run in the third on Damon’s home run to right. The Rays answered back with two in the home half; Crawford reached on an infield single and Longoria’s base hit moved him into scoring position at second base. Pena then singled, bringing CC around to score and advancing Longo to second; he moved to third on Joyce’s fielder’s choice, which saw Pena thrown out at second. Willy Aybar got enough on his ground-ball fielder’s choice to allow Longoria to score as the Rays tied it up with a little small ball. This tactic worked well in the bottom of the fourth as well. Reid Brignac led off with a double and scored on Jason Bartlett’s single; Bartlett moved to second on the throw to home. Sean Rodriguez – in for Zobrist, who left with stiffness in his back – flied out deep to center, allowing Bartlett to tag up and advance to third. After a Detroit pitching change, Crawford put the ball in play, picking up an RBI on his groundout to second as Bartlett crossed the plate; the Rays ended the inning with a two-run lead.

Cabrera, the best hitter in the American League, showed everyone why he’s contending to win the tripe crown when he went deep on a well-hit ball to left field, cutting the Rays’ lead in half. Detroit threatened in the top of the seventh, as reliever Grant Balfour pitched out of a bases-loaded situation for the second night in a row after intentionally walking Cabrera; with two already away, he got Boesch to fly out to left.

Joaquin Benoit threw a shut-down top of the eighth, so the score remained 5-4 in favor of Tampa Bay until the bottom of the eighth, when Longo tacked on some insurance with a long ball to left of his own. Evan’s third hit of the night got him tow RBIs, as Crawford scored from first base on Longoria’s 15th homer of the season. Rafael Soriano retired the three Detroit batters of the ninth in succession.

Back in the saddle[image-1]

Tampa Bay won this one the Rays way, as I like to say. Battling, grinding, working their runs in. Sure, Longoria’s flashy homer was great to pad the lead but this was one the Bay-area boys gutted out with sheer will. Longoria told Sun Sports’ Todd Kalas after the game that Niemann has done such a great job picking the team up throughout the season, it was nice to return the favor for once. Jeff improved to 9-3 on the year and Soriano picked up his 28th save.

Dare I say it? Indeed. Bring out the brooms! The Rays are looking for their first series sweep since dusting the wounded Red Sox the first week of July and I think they’re walking with enough swagger to pull it off in tomorrow’s noon matinee. David Price gets the start, looking for his 14th win as Tampa Bay looks for its sixth-straight victory.

I’d love to give you more in this one, but I have to cut it short so I’m fresh as a spring chicken for tomorrow’s game. Take the day off and come out and join me!

In stark contrast to the previous two outings, it was the Detroit Tigers that jumped out to an early lead in the third of four games at Tropicana Field against the Tampa Bay Rays. The Rays responded, however, grinding out runs by playing blue-collar baseball and coming away with the 7-4 win in front of 16,209 people. Evan Longoria went 3-for-4 at the plate Wednesday night in an outing that saw Carlos Pena and Matt Joyce continue to hit well. Tampa Bay had 14 hits on the evening.

Detroit put up a two-spot in the first inning before the Rays managed to record a single out. Will Rhymes led off with a single, followed by a double from journeyman slugger Johnny Damon, plating Rhymes. Damon came around to score on Jeff Larish’s base hit, giving this game an ominous start. Miguel Cabrera lined out to center and Brennan Boesch grounded into a double play to close the top half of the frame.

Tampa Bay got the lead off man aboard as well, with Ben Zobrist singling to start the bottom of the first. Carl Crawford popped out and Longoria flied to right. Zobrist stole second and then third before Pena walked. Joyce doubled, bringing Zobrist to the plate to cut the Tigers’ lead in half.


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