Rays let lead slip away, come back to walk off Pirates

Marc Topkin, Tampa Bay Times on

Published in Baseball

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — There were a lot of smiles before Friday’s game.

The Rays were seemingly refreshed by Thursday’s off day, following the tough series against the Yankees after a rough road trip.

There was excitement over one of their homegrown prospects, Jonathan Aranda, making his big league debut and trade acquisition Luke Raley getting his first Tampa Bay appearance.

There were the memories of seeing their long-time hitting coach, Derek Shelton, back at Tropicana Field as manager of the Pirates.

And there were smiles after the game, as Harold Ramirez singled in Vidal Brujan with one out in the 10th inning to give the Rays a 4-3 win.

Brujan started the inning as the assigned runner on second, stole third with one out and scored when Ramirez hit a single through the left side of the infield.

Five Rays pitchers combined for 17 strikeouts and no walks. The game was the Rays’ team-record 10th straight decided by two or fewer runs.

The Rays (38-32) jumped out a 3-0 lead in the second inning off Mitch Keller.


Josh Lowe singled and stole second, then Raley singled him in. Taylor Walls walked to put two on.

Then Aranda grounded a single to right field, scoring Raley and sending Walls to third. That mattered because with two outs and Brett Phillips batting, Keller was called for a balk, sending Walls home.

Rays starter Jeffrey Springs sailed through the Pirates lineup the first time, allowing only one hit (a two-out single in the first) in facing 10 batters over three innings.

But he had all kinds of trouble the second go-round, allowing three solo homers in a seven-batter span.

Michael Chavis got him with one out in the fourth, and Diego Castillo with two outs. Springs allowed two more singles before striking out ex-Ray Michael Perez to get out of the inning.

But then Hoy Park took him deep on the first pitch of the fifth, getting the Pirates even at 3-all.

Springs struck out a career-high nine, and threw a career-most 102 pitches in what ended up being a second straight outing with a blemish after his remarkable seven-start run (2-2, 1.72) in transitioning to the rotation May 9.

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