Go Figure: Rays Rock Severino, Hold On Against Yankees

Bauers, Robertson homer for Rays against Severino

Once again, despite the best efforts of at least one of the teams on the field, the Tampa Bay Rays found themselves in a thrilling, entertaining, exhausting nail-biter of a game.  For the 41st time this season, the Tampa Bay Rays played a game that ended in a one run margin.  It took every pitch, and every inch of the Rays’ margin for error to finish off a 7-6 win over New York on Monday night, a game in which the Yankees had the bases loaded in the top of the ninth inning.

It was a big night for Jake Bauers on Monday night.  The rookie first baseman scored the game’s first run on a heads-up baserunning play where he came around to score from second base on a passed ball.  In the bottom of the fifth, with two men on, Bauers took Luis Severino well over the right field fence on a no-doubter to give the Rays a 4-1 lead.

The Rays had some comfortable leads in Monday night’s game, but the Yankees’ all-world lineup would not let the game get out of hand, roaring back to make it close whenever the Rays would try to open up some breathing room.

Tampa Bay opened the scoring in the bottom of the first.  Jake Bauers hit a long drive to right field that bounced off the top of the wall for a double.  He came around to score on a passed ball, taking advantage of expectations.  Nobody expected Bauers to keep running after heading over to third on the passed ball, but he just kept going.  Luis Severino was not covering home plate and had to scramble, forcing a rushed throw from Gary Sanchez that got away and allowed Bauers to score.

The Rays played a game at the plate that the Yankees are used to playing against their opponents.  Tampa Bay worked Luis Severino, forcing the New York ace to throw a lot of pitches in a short period of time.  After four innings, Severino had thrown 72 pitches, a workload that would limit his innings on Monday night and get the Rays into the New York bullpen before the formidable back end.

That patience for the Rays paid off.  The fifth inning was where Tampa Bay really got to Severino, stringing base hits together from Kevin Kiermaier and Matt Duffy before Bauers’ long ball.  Luis Severino was pulled in the sixth inning with nobody out and runners on the corners.  He had already surrendered five runs.  By the time the book was closed, he ended up with seven runs to his name, six of which were earned.

The Yankees made it close with a lot of noise in the sixth and seventh innings.  In the seventh, the Rays had to use four pitchers—Diego Castillo, Jamie Schultz, Adam Kolarek, and Ryne Stanek—to get through the inning.  By the time they did, their 7-3 lead had become the narrowest of margins at 7-6.

Robertson sizzling at the Trop

Daniel Robertson has started this week on a tear.  Sunday afternoon’s walkoff grand slam was the first in Rays’ history and the first in Robertson’s career.  He did not let off the gas on Monday night, with singles in his first two at bats and a home run to right field in his third, the fifth run of the night for the Rays.

Rays getting into good habits against the Yankees

Monday night marked the Rays’ fourth win against the Yankees in as many games at Tropicana Field this season.  In the last three of those games, Tampa Bay has scored in the bottom of the first inning.  They have been the first team on the board in all four games they’ve played against New York at home this season.

Andriese puts Rays in a position to win

In almost any other year, on just about any other team, Matt Andriese would be considered a long reliever, perhaps even a “mop-up man.”  Not so in St. Petersburg, where the Tampa Bay Rays’ ongoing experimentations with pitching roles have made Andriese a vital member of the staff on nights where an opener is called for.  Andriese relieved Hunter Wood in the third inning and ate up twelve of the game’s twenty-seven outs, throwing 3.2 innings of scoreless baseball against one of baseball’s most loaded lineups.  The righty struck out five Yankees in his outing Monday night.

Andriese is the ideal pitcher for the situation the Rays are in.  In many places, a pitcher who is most effective his first time through the lineup ends up lucky to hang on in the majors, but with the Rays’ role-free pitching staff he’s able to get outs while effective and the Rays can afford to relieve him before things get ugly.

It was not a great night for backstops, Gary Sanchez’ first inning passed ball led to the Rays’ first run of the game, and set the tone for Tampa Bay early on.  The Rays allowed a run to score on a passed ball as well, with Giancarlo Stanton coming in from third in the sixth inning to narrow the gap with two outs.  It would spark a mini-rally for the Yankees, as New York would add another when Aaron Hicks scored on Gary Sanchez’ single.  Both runs were unearned to Andriese, who might have been out of the inning were it nor for a lapse in defense.

Mixed open for Wood

For the second time this season, Hunter Wood was tabbed to be the Rays’ opener.  Wood pitched two innings on Monday night for the Rays, and the two innings took very different shapes.

Wood was sharp in the first, retiring the Yankees in order in a frame that included a strikeout to Aaron Judge and a solid defensive play when Daniel Robertson backed up a bouncing ball off the glove of Jake Bauers.  The second inning of work for Hunter Wood, however, was a trying one.  Giancarlo Stanton hit a towering pop up to center field that the Rays lost in the baseball-colored roof, allowing it to fall for a double.  Stanton came around to score on a single by Miguel Andujar with two out.  In an odd quirk, the run was considered earned while the Rays’ tally in the bottom of the first was unearned.

Snell to disabled list, will miss a start

Tampa Bay’s All Star pitcher Blake Snell will miss his first scheduled start of 2018 on Tuesday, as the Rays have sent the lefty to the 10-day disabled list.  The move is retroactive to July 20, and the reason cited is fatigue in his throwing shoulder.  An MRI revealed no structural damage, and Snell is expected to return from the DL shortly.

Sergio Romo was also unavailable for Monday night’s game, having been sent home before the game due to what Kevin Cash called a “stomach bug.”  He is not expected to miss a lot of time.

What’s next for the Rays

The Rays head into game two of their three game set with the Yankees on Tuesday night, a game scheduled for a 7:10 start.  It had been scheduled to be Blake Snell’s first start since the All Star Game and his appearance therein.  Now the Rays turn to Yonny Chirinos, who will be called back up at the expense of Adam Kolarek.  Chirinos had briefly earned a spot as a true starter for the Rays, but injuries held him back for much of the season.  The young starter will be on the hill Tuesday night.

Tim Williams has been covering sports since his days as a student at Northeastern University covering events such as the Beanpot. In the thirteen years since, he has covered college hockey, the NFL, Major League Baseball, the PGA Tour, and the National Hockey League. A native of the Tampa Bay area, Tim has returned home after living much of his life in the northeast, including sixteen years in the Boston area. These days the Managing Editor of Sports Talk Florida can be found on Florida's golf courses when he's not working.