The Rays proved a lot today, fighting back to beat Cleveland with resilience and perseverance. In a game that started with the Rays hitting poorly, pitching poorly, and fielding poorly, Tampa turned it around to do the exact opposite in the late innings.
The Indians got on the board first, as Casey Kotchman continued to kill his former team with an RBI single in the bottom of the second.
In the bottom of the third, a pickoff-attempt throwing error by James Shields at third following a Johnny Damon triple gave Cleveland their second run of the game.
Another defensive miscue put the Rays and Shields in an even bigger hole, as a fielding error by Jeff Keppinger at third base extended the Indians' lead to 3-0.
Cleveland tacked on another run in the fourth via a Kotchman solo jack. Kotchman continued his major damage and knocked in his third run of the game in the fifth inning with another RBI single, making it a 5-0 game.
On the flip side of things, the Rays' bats were absolutely iced by Indians starter Zach McAllister through the first five innings. They were shutout and did not get their first hit until the fifth. The Rays would finally get on the board in the sixth, however, as sloppy defense cost Cleveland dearly.
Shortstop Asrubal Cabrera single-handedly opened up a huge four-run inning for the Rays by making some huge miscues. It all started with one out and nobody on, when Carlos Pena reached on an infield single thanks to Cabrera's lackluster effort to charge the slow groundball. A batter later, Ben Zobrist grounded a ball to the second baseman who threw the ball right into the mitt of Cabrera. He missed the ball (which at least would of been a force out, and had a chance for a double play), allowing both runners to reach safely.
Following a B.J. Upton flyout, Luke Scott continued his weekend turnaround in a big position with two outs and two on. Scott belted a pitch off the centerfield wall, scoring two runs and cutting the deficit to three.
Then, after a walk by Keppinger, Desmond Jennings delivered with a big two-run double to cut Cleveland's lead to one.
After leaving two men on in the eighth, Joel Peralta entered the game in the eighth inning with his team down 5-4. He recorded two quick outs, but then was met by a Shin-Soo Choo solo homer over the centerfield fence. It seemed like the lead would likely be enough for All-Star closer Chris Perez to handle in the bottom of the ninth, but the Rays defied the odds with a stunning inning.
With one out and nobody on base, Lil' Will Rhymes shocked the Progressive Field crowd with a long blast into the right-field bleachers. On the very next pitch, Elliot Johnson smacked a single right back up the middle.
Then Carlos Pena delivered the game-tying hit. Pena looped a soft sinking line drive just out of the reach of centerfielder Michael Bradley who dived and missed the ball which rolled deep into the outfield for Pena's first triple of the season.
The game-winning hit came courtesy of Zorilla, who lined a single to right scoring Pena.
With the score 7-6 in the favor of the Rays entering the ninth, Fernando Rodney came on to record the save. After quickly retiring two straight batters, two straight singles put men on the corners. Casey Kotchman, the latest member of the Rays-killer club, was due up. He grounded the first pitch right to Rhymes who stepped on second to end the game, giving Rodney his 25th save and the Rays their 45th win.
Notable Stat Lines:
- J. Shields: 10 H, 5 R (4 ER), 2 BB, 5 K, E1 through 7.0 IP (121 pitches)
- C. Pena: 2-5, 2 R, RBI
- B. Zobrist: 1-4, R, RBI, BB, SB
- L. Scott: 2-5, R, 2 RBi
- J. Keppinger: 1-2, R, 2 BB, E5
- D. Jennings: 1-4, 2 RBI
- W. Rhymes: 1-4, HR, R, RBI