St. Petersburg, FL – Randy Arozarena delivered a walk-off single to cap a three run 9th inning rally as the Tampa Bay Rays stunned the Cleveland Guardians with a 6-5 win.
Josh Fleming (2-0, 4.70 ERA) picks up the win for Tampa Bay who improve to 71-48 on the season. With the win the Rays guarantee their first series win at home since taking 2-of-3 from the Texas Rangers June 9 through 11th. However, the Rays have won four of their last five series overall. The Rays are feeling the momentum swing, especially after the 9th inning rally today.
“The guys are pumped. They were pumped last night, maybe a little more pumped tonight.” Manager Kevin Cash said. “Simply because we were down and behind for the entire day and to be able to do that pitcher is pretty special.”
Emmanuel Clase (1-7, 3.21 ERA) blew his league leading ninth save and took the loss as the Guardians fall to 56-62 on the season. Including the postseaon, Tampa Bay and Cleveland have played seven consecutive one run games. The Guardians have won four of the seven.
It was the Tampa Bay’s 23rd comeback win on the year and sixth by walk-off. Of the six walk-off hits, Randy Arozarena has three of them. “It’s kind of the same thing he does in the postseason.” Cash said. “He elevates his game, his mindset when there’s is a chance for us to do something big, and he did again today.”
Erasmo Ramirez took over for Armstrong in the third. Steven Kwan tripled to lead off the inning and scored on a sacrifice fly off the bat of Brayan Rocchio giving Cleveland the 1-0 lead. The Guardians continued their early assault on Ramirez as Andres Gimenez bounced a ball into the right field corner that hit the foul pole for a ground rule double. Ramirez rebounded by striking out Ramon Laureano and Oscar Gonzalez to end the inning.
Gavin Williams was cruising along with 2-out in the fourth inning when Luke Raley connected on his first homer since July 5th to tie the game at 1-1. The homer for Raley was his 17th on the season and ended a career long 24 game homerless streak. The 24 game homerless streak was the longest of his career. Raley has been scuffling, not just in the power department. Entering the game he was batting just .130 (6-for-46) with 17 strikeouts over his last 16 games. “It had been going really poor. I just knew I had to change something.” Raley said after the game. “I had gone through all my options in the cage so it was something I had to change. It’s good to get it going again and hopefully I can build off of it.” Jokingly, he suggested that going with the goatee over full beard might be the key change.
Ramirez settled in retiring the eight straight batters until Andres Gimenez led of the sixth with a single. Ramon Laureano followed with a single pushing Gimenez to 3rd. He scored on a sacrifice fly off the bat of Oscar Gonzalez. Kole Calhoun followed with single moving Laureano to second and ending Ramirez’s afternoon.
Kevin Kelly, drafted by Cleveland in the 19th round in 2019, replaced Ramirez with 2-on and 1-out. Kelly was not protected on Cleveland’s 40-man roster this past winter and was eligible for the Rule 5 draft. He was selected by the Colorado Rockies and traded to the Rays for cash considerations.
On the season, Kelly has allowed 27% (7 of 26 runners) to score. He allowed a single to Gabriel Arias that loaded the bases and a fielders choice on well placed groundball allowed Laureano to score Cleveland’s third run.
Gavin Williams was replaced by Enyel De Los Santos after working five innings allowing pone earned run on five hits while striking out ten and walking none. He threw 87 pitches with 55 for strikes.
Josh Fleming returned from a long stint on the IL (elbow) in the seventh inning. It was his first appearance since May 28th against the Los Angeles Dodgers.
De Los Santos worked a clean sixth inning and turned the ball over to Eli Morgan to protect the Guardians 3-1 lead in the seventh.
Morgan walked Luke Raley to lead off the inning who moved to second on a wild pitch but was erased as he drifted too far off the bag on a comebacker that Morgan knocked down off the bat of Josh Lowe. The Rays challenged the call but lost (call stands).
Josh Lowe stole second and scored on a pinch-hit RBI single by Harold Ramirez to cut the Guardians lead to 3-2.
Fleming was unable to get a shutdown inning, rather he allowed Cleveland to score a pair of runs in the top of the eighth to extend their lead to 5-2.
Trevor Stephan worked the eighth inning for the Guardians. Randy Arozarena was hit by a pitch, stole second, and scored on a Luke Raley double to draw the Rays to within 5-3.
Fleming remained in the game and retired the Guardians in order. Overall, Fleming worked three innings allowing a pair of runs on five hits striking out one and walking two. Most importantly for the Rays, he appears to be fully recovered from the elbow ailment.
Emmanual Clase worked the ninth inning and allowed a leadoff single to Josh Lowe. Lowe advanced to second on a fielders choice and scored on a double by Yandy Diaz which cut the Cleveland lead to 5-4. With the tying run at second he struck out the dangerous Wander Franco for the second out.
Clase uncorked a wild pitch that allowed Diaz to advance to third which proved costly as he scored the game-tying run on a infield single by Brandon Lowe. Lowe stole second and scored the game winning run on a Randy Arozarena walk-off single.
Prior to the game, Tampa Bay re-insted Josh Fleming from the 60-day Inured List and optioned Cooper Criswell to Triple-A Durham. To make room on the 40-man roster, Shane McClanahan was placed on the 60-day IL.
The Rays and Cleveland finish their three game weekend series on Sunday afternoon at 1:40 pm. Zach Eflin (12-6, 3.34 ERA) takes the mound for the Rays. Cleveland counters with rookie right hander Tanner Bibee (8-2, 2.92 ERA). Bibee will be the fourth straight rookie starting pitcher they’ve faced. It’s the fifth time this has happened in franchise history. The last occurrence came August 16 through 20, 2009 when they faced Mark Rzepczynski (Blue Jays) and the Baltimore Orioles trio of Jason Berken, Chris Tillman, and Brian Matusz.