Rays prove their mettle with resilient rally
ST. PETERSBURG -- Coming back from three-run deficits has become commonplace for the Rays as of late, but the way they did in Wednesday's 9-6 victory over the Braves had some added flair to it.
The Rays managed to cut into an early 3-0 hole, and entered the seventh inning trailing 4-3, but the Braves tacked on two more runs on a Pedro Ciriaco sacrifice fly and an Alex Colome wild pitch.
That 6-3 lead that Atlanta built, however, would not stand for long as the Rays struck back with a fury in the seventh. Grady Sizemore led off the inning with a double, and Evan Longoria followed with a single. Then, on the first pitch of his at-bat, James Loney laced a double to tally the Rays' first run of the inning.
From there, the Rays pinch-ran Tim Beckham for Loney, which paid off when Beckham took third base on Logan Forsythe's sacrifice fly that scored Longoria. Beckham would then scurry home on a wild pitch to tie the game at 6 during Brandon Guyer's at-bat, which resulted in a double.
"At the time, it may have been the play of the game," said Rays manager Kevin Cash of Beckham's tag up. "It was a very heads up play. I think it's safe to assume that James Loney wouldn't have gotten to third on that play, so it worked out well."
After Guyer's double, a pair of hustle plays pushed the Rays out in front when Kevin Kiermaier busted down the line to make Matt Marksberry's cover of first base that much tougher. Ultimately, it led to the Braves pitcher missing the bag and Guyer scoring from second.
"As I was going, [third base coach] Charlie [Montoya] was saying 'Go, go!' I was going either way, just because you never know what could happen there, and it worked out good," Guyer said. "[It was a] good way to get a run up."
Shortly after hustle put the Rays on top, a flash of power from Curt Casali capped the six-run inning. He launched a two-run shot off the left-field foul pole.
"If that's not resilient, I'm not sure what is," Cash said. "We battled our way back to get it, 4-3, then they added more on, and then we just kept coming. It was a pretty impressive inning we put together there. Some good at-bats, some key at-bats from a lot of different people."
The offensive surge was also a poetic way for Rays starter Jake Odorizzi to get off the hook for his seventh loss of the season. Coming into Wednesday's contest, the right-hander had the fourth-lowest run support in the American League (minimum of 10 starts) at 3.10 runs per nine innings pitched. But with a few key swings and a few hustle points, the offense made up for some of its past struggles.
"If one component of our [team] fails, we need the other to pick them up," Odorizzi said. "We just need wins. And sure enough, that's what happened tonight. [The offense] picked me up. Funny how that works, but that's baseball. I've had one-run losses, and today I gave up a season-high in runs, and we got a win."