Rays Defeat Astros 5-2 To Win Three Of Four Over Astros
The Tampa Bay Rays defeated the Houston Astros by a final score of 5-2 to improve to 31-46 on the season. It was their seventh win in 11 games. The victory combined with the Toronto Blue Jays loss to the Cincinnati Reds draws the Rays to within 11 games of first place.
The Rays have long had a DNA of pitching and defense and earlier this season that combination was nowhere to be found but it is starting to reappear and it starts with starting pitching. Over the course of the four game series against the Astros the starting pitching shined.
It started with Chris Archer delivering 6.1 innings of shutout ball on Thursday, David Price two earned runs in 8 innings on Friday, Jake Odorizzi scoreless 7.1 innings on Saturday, and on Sunday Erik Bedard delivered 5.1 innings allowing just two earned runs. Overall the starters pitched to a 1.32 ERA (4ER/27.1IP) allowing just 17 hits while striking out 38 and walking just eight.
Erik Bedard, making his first start ever against the Houston Astros saw his very first pitch of the game sail out of the park thanks to Dexter Fowler who connected for his sixth home run on the year. It was only the fourth leadoff home run he had allowed in 228 career starts. It was Fowler’s ninth career leadoff home, second time he had connected on the first pitch, and second time he has led the game off with a homer against the Rays in a span of eight games.
Evan Longoria drew the Rays even in the bottom of the first inning on a RBI single off Astros starter Dallas Keuchel (8-5, 2.78 ERA). It was of three hits that Longoria had on the afternoon tying a season high. It was the first of four hits the Rays would get with runners in scoring position finishing the game four for eight and .429 (9 for 21) in the last two games.
Rays manager Joe Maddon was happy with the teams performance saying “I”d like to see it become a trend.”” Adding, that “this can becomes contagious.”
The Astros took a 2-1 lead in the top of the third inning on an RBI single by Jose Altuve that scored Jonathan Villar. The single came after Villar had been called out on a stolen base of third base but the call was overturned on replay.
Later in the game Desmond Jennings attempted to steal home and was called out and the Rays challenged believing replay showed that his hand touched home plate before he was tagged out but the call was not overturned (VIDEO LINK).
“I still think Desmond was safe. Throughout this whole process, the thing that’s really standing out to me, I still believe—I’m into the replay. I’m into it —I still believe there needs to be a separate group of umpires…that are just out there specifically for replay only.” Maddon said after the game. .
“That hopefully would be the next step in regards to getting this thing nailed down because Ireally don’t understand why those plays went against us in both situations. The last one, I kind of can see but the point is, I would like to see the evidence that indicates why they did what they did. Once again, the play that stands, that’s the play that I think you should still be able to maintain your challenge. The play that is confirmed, I can understand that although I think the play at the plate was confirmed and I totally disagree with that.”
Erik Bedard was removed from the game after 108 pitches with one out in the sixth inning with two runners on base and one out. Juan Carlos Oviedo (3-2, 2.42) came in to retire both Carlos Corporan and Robbie Grossman.
The Rays came back to take a 4-3 lead in the bottom of the inning. Ben Zobrist walked and moved to second on a Brandon Guyer bunt single, and Evan Longoria followed with a sharp single to load the bases with nobody out.
Keuchel struck out Jerry Sands for the first out but Yunel Escobar singled on a ground ball to right field to score Zobrist and Guyer and Evan Longoria advanced to third. Sean Rodriguez grounded into a fielders choice that allowed Longoria to come in to score and give the Rays the 4-2 lead.
The Rays added an insurance run on a Sean Rodriguez sacrifice fly that scored Brandon Guyer to give the Rays a 5-2 lead in the bottom of the eighth.
Grant Balfour worked a scoreless seventh, and Jake McGee a scoreless eighth before turning the ball over to Joel Peralta who closed the game picking up his first save of the year and first since May 17, 2013.