This one was not fun.
Right from the start, tonight’s game felt unsteady, like it could tip one way or the other at the faintest nudge. Ryan Yarbrough had a rough first inning, that started with a single off the first batter in Kiner-Falefa, who then quickly took second on a dropped-ball balk call. Joey Gallo singled to score Kiner-Falefa, giving the Rangers a lead in just their first three batters.
Yarbrough gave up one more single in the first, but no further runs scored.
In the bottom of the inning the Rays quickly looked to even things up, as Arozarena took first on a HBP and then a long Joey Wendle double managed to score Arozarena from first to tie the game. A Yandy Diaz single then helped score Wendle, putting the Rays ahead. The Wendle run was a real coup, the result of a fielding error by Nick Solak who managed to just… not catch the ball.
Joey Wendle puts the @RaysBaseball on the board with a double!
— Bally Sports Sun: Rays (@BallyRays) April 13, 2021
By the second inning Yarbrough had settled down, but unfortunately so had Rangers starter Kyle Gibson, and the second and third innings were each 1-2-3 affairs for both clubs (Meadows did walk for the Rays in the third, but the baserunner was erased in a double play).
In the fourth inning, unfortunately, things started to come off the rails slightly for Yarbrough. It started with a Trevino single, followed by a Lowe single, followed by a Garcia single. Oof. Solak, perhaps to make amends for his earlier error, hit a double way into deep left that managed to score all three of the waiting baserunners and given the Rangers the lead once more.
Culberson then added to the damage with a deep double to score Solak, giving the Rangers a solid 5-2 lead and likely affording Solak a slightly friendlier reception in the dugout.
The Rays tried to fight back in the bottom of the inning with a single and a walk, but left the men stranded and the score unchanged.
Yarbrough had a smooth fifth, and the Rangers made short work of the Rays in the bottom of the inning, but the sixth would prove to be the last inning of the night for the Rays starter. Yarbrough gave up a walk to White, then a single to Culberson, and Kiner-Falefa chipped away further with a single to score White.
Yarbrough’s final line for the night was 6.0 IP, 10 H, 6 R, 6 ER, 1 BB, 6 K, 0 HR on 93 pitches.
Trevor Richards came on in relief in the second, but the hit party kept coming. After an uneventful seventh inning for both teams, the top of the eighth proved to be an ugly inning for the Rays. Solak singled, then Culberson hit a two-run home run to give the Rangers an 8-2 lead. The only highlight of that homer was the boisterous cheer of the home crowd as the ball was tossed back on the field.
After seven solid innings of work from Gibson, Brett Martin came on for the Rangers in the bottom of the eighth. Rays bats perked up a little off Martin, with a hit from Arozarena followed by one from Brandon Lowe. A Diaz base hit brought Arozarena home on a call at the plate that was so close and with such a perfectly placed hand you have to applaud.
They wouldn’t get any more runs in the inning, but it was still a fun way to steal one back.
A quick double play at the top of then ninth gave Richards two outs quickly, and a strikeout finished off the Rangers, sending things to the bottom of the ninth and the last chance for the Rays to stage a comeback.
With one out, Brett Phillips inexplicable was given a do-over thanks to some grousing from, uh, the Rangers dugout? Sure. It ultimately didn’t matter, as the Rays were unable to make a comeback, and the Rangers took the win.
Final score: Rangers 8, Rays 3