ST. PETERSBURG -- Before Friday’s game, the Rays talked about the importance of playing well during their final six-game homestand of the season in order to give themselves a chance to clinch a postseason spot.
At times, the Rays have struggled at Tropicana Field this season. But it was a happy start to the final homestand as the Rays won the series opener against the Red Sox, 5-4, thanks to a walk-off RBI single by Willy Adames in the 11th inning.
“That’s the best feeling in the world, man,” Adames said. “When you’re in that situation and you deliver the hit, that’s the best feeling that you’re ever going to have.”
Morton, who had thrown 100 pitches leading up to the at-bat, had a quick chat with Rays manager Kevin Cash on the mound and was allowed to pitch to Mitch Moreland in a critical spot in the game. Morton was able to get ahead 0-2 on Moreland, but the Red Sox first baseman then hit a 79 mph curveball that appeared to be off the plate for a home run to give the Red Sox a two-run lead.
“I was just trying to gauge where he was at,” Cash said. “Not sure if that was right to do because, if anything, I altered what he was trying to accomplish out there. Fairly uncharacteristic, haven’t done that in the past, but given who was on the mound for us I just wanted to ask him.”
“He just wanted to know how I was doing,” Morton added. “I told him I was good.”
After the home run allowed by Morton, the Rays’ offense was able to break through in the bottom half. The Rays struggled for six innings against Boston starter Rick Porcello but had much better at-bats in the seventh against the Red Sox bullpen. Travis d'Arnaud started the inning with a single and both Jesús Aguilar and Mike Brosseau reached on walks to load the bases with just one out.
Lowe was able to put the ball in play and got the Rays on the board with an RBI fielder’s choice to cut the deficit to one. Once the Rays got on the board, Adames was able to deliver the big hit: a two-out RBI double to even the score at two. Just four pitches later, the Rays took the lead on a Josh Taylor wild pitch that allowed Lowe to run home.
“We’ve got that win mentality,” Adames said. “We gotta win and we gotta do it today because tomorrow we have another day. If we want to make our push for the playoffs, you have to [win] the first one to keep doing it tomorrow and the next days.”
It was the second consecutive come-from-behind win for Tampa Bay, who also erased a two-run deficit on Wednesday against the Dodgers. It was also the second consecutive extra-inning win for the Rays.
“Gritty teams do that,” Morton said. “It’s really important, it’s really telling. The teams put in positions like that in a deficit and come back to tie or take the lead, that’s a big deal. That’s a really big deal.”
With the win, the Rays remained tied with the Indians, who beat the Phillies, 5-2, on Friday, for the second AL Wild Card spot with just eight games remaining in the regular season.
“We’re learning a lot about ourselves as we go,” Cash said. “We want to continue being resilient because that’s what it’s going to take to see this thing through these next eight games.”