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Game 136 // Sixth Inning // The Rays Take First Place

A good old-fashioned singles parade.

And this little Rays team that could, vaulting into first place in the AL East.



They start down 4-0 in the bottom of the sixth, the Trop respectably half-full, as their best season in the post-Maddon era enters the reality-check portion of the year—when this little growth they’ve planted gets undermined by moles, gophers, an excavator. By the rest of the American League. Wilting into the All-Star break.


But not tonight. And not the Rays.


Austin Meadows up against Andrew Heaney.

Leading off the inning with a double down the line to right.





Heaney gets pulled, relieved by Luis Garcia coming in from the bullpen.

And Yandy Díaz comes up, driving a single up the middle.

4-1 now.





Ji-Man Choi comes on to pinch hit. Another single.

Two on, no out.

Then Brandon Lowe strikes out, on a nasty splitter.

And Joey Wendle flies out to right-center.

Not the makings of any kind of big inning.


But up comes Kevin Kiermaier.

And he hits another one.




Another 0-2 count, another single. Rays down by only two.

Garcia is pulled. Buttrey comes in out of the bullpen.

Guillermo Heredia falls into another 0-2 count, and…

He’s hit. Badly. A 98-mph fastball plum onto the hand.


“Well this doesn’t look good at all,” says Dewayne Staats, on the Rays broadcast.





Travis D’Arnaud comes on to run for him. Rays still down 4-2. 

And then, Avisail Garcia sees a hard fastball over the plate from Buttrey. Reacts with an inside-out swing trying only to make contact, lifts it to shallow right center—and it drops. Two runs score.


Tie game, 4-4.





And then, the rally finale:

Tommy Pham.


The ninth hitter of the inning. A 3-1 count, and he lines an inside fastball the opposite way for another single.

Rays lead, 5-4.


And the Trop comes alive—as alive as it really gets—with the sound of those cowbells, hundreds clanging at once.





They scored four the next inning.

Winning it 9-4 in the end.


And the Yankees, that first-place-and-never-looking-back kind of team?

Fell 10-2 to the White Sox, after Eloy Jimenez hit two three-run homers.





And so these Rays, for a day, vault back into first.

As improbable as it always seems with them—with the Red Sox and Yankees always looming, every season.





So what do you do, when the Rays are having a season like this?

With this big of an inning, in this big of a division?


You get out your Tropicana.

And you love the taste of first place in the morning.






One thought on “Game 136 // Sixth Inning // The Rays Take First Place

  1. I’ll settle for second two weeks later as long as Rays are still in front of the Sox says the still disgruntled Dodger girl. Written from the heart of a true fan. Well said, Sir. Now go get them damn’ Yankees! 😉 For AL East, I’ll vote #Rays2019. See you at the fall classic! 😀