Robertson Delivers In Tenth As Rays Survive Wild Night

High-scoring night in St. Pete as Rays win in 10

On a very high-scoring night at Tropicana Field, the Tampa Bay Rays surrendered leads of five runs and two runs in a wild game that went down to the wire.  It was a monster of a game, taking 10 innings and nearly four full hours for the Rays to emerge with a 10-9 win over the Detroit Tigers on Monday night.

Kevin Kiermaier tripled in the bottom of the tenth with one out, finally showing a sign of breaking out of the slump he’s been in since he returned from injury.  He certainly didn’t have any trouble getting around the bases.  After a very hard-earned walk on the part of Matt Duffy, Daniel Robertson singled to center to finish it off.  Final score, 10-9.  Time of game:  Three hours and fifty-five minutes.

It was a wild first inning for the Rays.  Matt Duffy, second batter of the inning, singled to center on a diving almost-catch by Tigers center fielder Victor Reyes.  After singles by Daniel Robertson and newly-named all star Wilson Ramos, C.J. Cron got the Rays on the board with a base hit to right.  Jake Bauers legged out a grounder to prevent a double play and make it 2-0 Rays, at which point baseball lost its mind.  Adeiny Hechavarria popped the ball into right field, but Victor Reyes lost the ball against the baseball-colored roof of Tropicana Field, and the ball landed unharmed for a shocking two run double.  By the end, Tampa Bay had put five runs on the board on six hits, taking a commanding lead early on the Tigers.

The Rays would get a little more fortunate chance when Carlos Gomez knocked in a run in the third inning on a grounder that bounced off the second base bag for a double.  By then the score was 7-3 Rays.  Detroit starter Francisco Liriano was gone after just 2.1 innings pitched, having been credited with all seven runs scored while he was on the mound, though “earned” might be a bit of a stretch given just how those runs were scored.

Chris Archer was reinstated from the disabled list to make Monday night’s start, his first since June 2 at Seattle.  The Rays’ opening day starter shook off a leadoff walk and a single to follow it to get out of the first unscathed with a pair of strikeouts.  In all, Archer would go just 3.1 innings, exhausting his pitch count early but leaving with a commanding lead.  Because of the way wins are awarded, he did not pitch long enough to be eligible for his first home victory since September.  Archer did manage to strike out three Detroit Tigers, and get out of the third inning with only three runs against when Detroit was threatening to tie it up.  It might not have been the ideal start for Chris Archer, but it could have been worse, and the bottom line is that he left the game with the Rays comfortably in front.

From there, it was up to the bullpen.  Manager Kevin Cash was able to get some work for his less seasoned pitchers.  Hunter Wood had only pitched 6.1 innings this season, and he got 2.2 innings of work on Monday night.  Jamie Schultz only has a full inning under his belt, and he faced three batters in the seventh.  Adam Kolarek faced just one, retiring him.  Because Schultz struggled in his appearance, that seventh inning became a big one for Detroit.  They were able to narrow the gap to 7-5, and eventually tie the game on a Jose Iglesias double off of Diego Castillo, who couldn’t stop the bleeding until the game had been tied.

The Rays took the lead right back in the bottom of the inning.  With runners at the corners, Carlos Gomez might not have laid down the prettiest bunt, but it resulted in a base hit and a run in, giving Tampa Bay their lead back.  They extended that lead on a Willy Adames Double to plate Jake Bauers.

In the eighth, the Tigers came back again.  Nicholas Castellanos hit a one-out double, and he was knocked home two batters later by Victor Martinez.  Martinez came around to score, in turn, on a throwing error by first baseman Jake Bauers.  At that point the score was 9-9, an eye-popping total for any Major League Baseball game but especially for one featuring the low scoring and stingy Rays.  Tampa Bay turned to Sergio Romo, their eighth pitcher of the night to that point.

The amount of pitchers the Rays used will create a challenge for the coming two bullpen days.  Ryan Yarbrough has been the long man in many of these situations, now with Ryne Stanek having pitched Monday in the eighth as well as Castillo in the seventh and Wood for 2.2, Yarbrough will likely be expected to get the lion’s share of outs and give the bullpen at least some rest for the Wednesday afternoon finale if needed.

The brief homestand against the Tigers continues on Tuesday night, as the Rays return to the “opener” portion of their pitching rotation.  Lefty Matthew Boyd, currently in possession of a 4.58 ERA, will take the mound for Detroit.

Tampa Bay has feasted on the American League’s Central Division in 2018.  The Rays are now 10-3 against the Central, and would be firmly in second place in that division.

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.