It is a rarity where the majority of a game’s story can be told in a single inning. That was the case on Thursday afternoon in Oakland. The Oakland Athletics took their 1st lead of the 4-game set against the Rays in the 2nd inning. The Rays did their best to make a game of it in the 9th inning, but some late home runs by the Matt Joyce, Matt Olson, and Matt Chapman provided the insurance the A’s needed in the 7-3 victory.
The strategy of using an opener to start the game backfired on Tampa Bay this time. Ryne Stanek got through the 1st inning fairly easily, but the 2nd inning wasn’t as easy. Stanek only got one out in that 2nd inning. He was relieved by Ryan Yarbrough, but the lefty couldn’t get out of the jam. Stephen Piscotty doubled and and Mark Canha singled to give the Athletics a 3-0 lead very early on. Yarbrough settled down after that, but was no match for the gem that was being thrown by Daniel Mengden. Mengden threw a complete game shutout in his last start and was just as good this time. His fantastic mustache was on display as well as his arm. The only times the Rays got him into a little bit of trouble, the righty came through. He struck out Brad Miller to leave 2 runners stranded in the 4th inning and then got Wilson Ramos to ground into an inning ending double play a few innings later.
Yarbrough did his best to keep the Rays into the game as he pitched over 5 innings in relief yet again. The youngster recorded a career-high 9 strikeouts, but right as he reached that milestone and the 100-pitch mark the wheels started to come off a bit. Yarbrough allowed 2 solo home runs in a stretch of 3 batters to Matt Olson and Matt Chapman. Those runs really ended any hopes of a comeback with the way that Mengden was pitching. Yarbrough ended the game with 5 ⅔ innings pitched with 9 strikeouts and allowing 3 runs. An exclamation point was added for Oakland in the bottom half of the 8th as former Ray, Matt Joyce got his 1st hit of the series. That hit went out of the ball park. The 3rd homer allowed by Rays pitching on the day made it a 7-0 game.
The Rays did their best to rally in the 9th. Doubles by Wilson Ramos and Christian Arroyo made it a 7-3 game and chased 2 pitchers. The rally looked like it might continue with a bloop single, but Chad Pinder made a miraculous, barehanded grab for the final out.
Next up for the Rays is a plane ride up to Seattle. The Rays will see some very familiar faces in Denard Span and Alex Colome when they start a series at Safeco Field. An opener will be slated to get the ball tomorrow as Sergio Romo will start for the Rays. It will be another edition of Late Night with The Rays as 1st pitch is scheduled for shortly after 10 pm. Coverage begins at 9 pm here on WDAE with Steve Carney and The Inside Pitch.