If ever there was to be a streak for the Rays to capitalize against another team to bolster their chances of locking down a wildcard spot, it would be this streak. The Tigers haven’t been good this season, to put it mildly. With Detroit fans rallying for the team’s general manager’s firing and almost no major moves made by the deadline, the Tigers were poised to be swept away this weekend.
Still, things really didn’t go the Rays way in Game 2 of the series. Corey Kluber, who has a solid record against the Tigers, did well but got off to a bumpy start that gave the Tigers their first lead. The biggest problem was the Rays’ inability to take advantage of Tigers starter Bryan Garcia’s early problems.
Round one was the Rays’ first LOBster situation of the night. Lowe got an early walk, highlighting Garcia’s obvious struggles to find the area. A double play from Choi knocked out the first base runner, but soon Diaz was on board. Still, the Rays couldn’t capitalize on the opportunity and no points were scored. In the bottom of the first, Kluber showed a bit of fizz himself, giving up a hit right away, as Greene picked. Greene was quickly taken down by a fielder’s pick from Reyes, followed by a single from Baez. Then Candelario singled to bring Reyes home and put the Tigers up 1-0.
In the second, the Rays absolutely had an opportunity to tie things up and get the nod, but they just couldn’t make it happen. Garcia couldn’t find the strike zone if someone wrapped it in a gift and put it in their hands. Arozarena hit a one-out single, but got a little impatient and was caught stealing the second. With two outs, Garcia walked Mejia, Quinn and Walls in order. With the bases loaded and Brandon Lowe with a full count, Lowe struck out, leaving all three men on board and the Rays scoreless.
The bottom of the second saw the Rays pull away from Kluber, as Baddoo hit a two-out single, followed by a home run from Greene. Reyes then hit a double which fell through the middle and made Roman feel a bit uneasy as he tried to catch the hold and just couldn’t. The Tigers didn’t get more than the two points, but it was enough to give them a 3-0 lead.
It was a third three-up-three-down for both teams, as each pitcher breathed a sigh of relief for a relatively easy inning.
The fourth saw little in terms of the Rays offense as they only had to settle for a Mejia walk. With Garcia out for the night, he provided six walks that the Rays couldn’t convert into runs. There would be more. Late in the fourth, Kluber had gotten into his groove and led the Tigers 1-2-3.
The start of the fifth offered the Rays some respite: there would be no shutout. Walls got a walk first against reliever Will Vest, and he then advanced to second on a pitch by Lowe. Choi walked. Then a Peralta brace brought Walls home and finally put the Rays on the board. Raley was also walked on in the inning, but no extra runs were scored. At the bottom of the fifth and Kluber again ran through the batters 1-2-3.
Things started to improve a bit in the sixth as the Tigers pitchers decided to ditch the singles instead of the walks. After a quick outing, Quinn, Walls and Lowe (he must have been so happy to finally get a hit) got singles, and Lowe’s single scored Quinn. They would have to settle for just one though, as the next two batters were out. The bottom of the inning saw Kluber stay strong, with just a single to Castro, and no runs scored. After six, it was a one-point game. It was the end of the night for Corey, whose final line was 6.0 IP, 7 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 0 BB, 5 K, 1 HR from 84 pitches.
In the seventh and the Rays saw two quick outs before getting their tenth walk of the night to Randy Arozarena. Unfortunately, just like most other walks of the evening, the Rays couldn’t convert it into anything meaningful. At the end of the inning, it was the turn of Beeks, who gave up a first single to Barnhart. It was the Tigers’ turn to take a walk next, as Greene made a one-shot walk to first. A double play from Reyes, however, ended the inning safely for the Rays.
As the game headed into the eighth, the song and dance sounded familiar as the Rays took their eleventh walk of the night on a first walk for Quinn. This time around, however, the Rays weren’t going to waste their chance, Walls walked, then a brace from Lowe scored both base runners. A Paredes single scored Lowe, and suddenly the Rays took the lead. Two outs followed, before another march to Raley. The start of the inning ended with an Arozarena strikeout, but the Rays now had the lead, 5-3. In the bottom of the eighth, the Tigers went 1-2-3.
The Rays went down the order themselves in the top of the ninth. As the game headed down the ninth, the Rays gave it to Poche to protect the lead and keep them on track to win the game. Poche gave up a walk to Cameron. Another out, and it was the last batter. Walls was unable to place the ball first as Haase scored a single. The next batter was Riley Greene who homered earlier in the game, but Poche hit it to end the game.
Final: Rays 5, Tigers 3