The Royals had the last laugh in a wild back-and-forth series finale.
With a series win over the Kansas City Royals secured, the Rays look to complete the sweep tonight at Kauffman Stadium. Jakob Junis takes the mound for the Royals against Michael Wacha and the Rays.
We’ll try our hardest to put up 14 runs tonight pic.twitter.com/WnRIbT7cRN
— Tampa Bay Rays (@RaysBaseball) April 21, 2021
Austin Meadows drew a walk to start the game but was out at second after Yoshi Tsutsugo hit into a fielder’s choice. Joey Wendle made sure to make Junis pay for putting a runner on in the first, because he ripped a one-out double to center field to put the Rays on the board, 1-0.
Brandon Lowe saw a runner on base and decided to bring him home, launching a home run over the right field wall to make it a 3-0 ballgame. Lowe’s home run left his bat at 109 mph and traveled 432 feet.
Three runs in one inning weren’t enough. Yandy Diaz drew a walk after the Lowe home run before Kevin Kiermaier flew out for the second out. Francisco Mejia drove Yandy home with a double to right to extend the lead to 4-0. Willy Adames lined out to end the inning.
Wacha worked a clean first inning while throwing only six pitches, while in the top of the second, Junis was able to get through without allowing a run.
Wacha was not able to work a clean bottom of the second, as he allowed Jorge Soler to single and Hunter Dozier to drive him home with a two-run home run, making it 4-2 Rays. Wacha ended the inning with his first strikeout of the night.
Jorge Soler hit a solo home run in the bottom of the fourth to bring the Royals within one. In the top of the fifth, Brett Phillips hit a leadoff single before Austin Meadows drew a walk. Yoshi hit a single that led to a terrible throw from left fielder Andrew Benintendi, but Phillips was too ambitious and was thrown out at home.
Luckily, this allowed Austin Meadows to move up to third and score during the next plate appearance, when Joey Wendle hit a sacrifice fly to make it 5-3 Rays. Brandon Lowe struck out to end the inning.
The bottom of the sixth was a very weird inning. The first out of the inning was Carlos Santana flying out to the right field wall. The second out came when Salvador Perez thought he had hit a home run on a ball that bounced off the top of the right field wall, but was thrown out jogging past first. The batter after that, Jorge Soler, hit a double off of the left field wall. The distances on those three balls in play: 395 feet, 394 feet, 395 feet. Soler was stranded at second with a groundout to end the inning.
Jeffrey Springs was brought in after the Soler double, ending Wacha’s night. Wacha threw 76 pitches over 5.2 innings, allowing three runs on five hits with one walk and one strikeout.
The top of the seventh started out with a Brett Phillips leadoff walk. Austin Meadows plated Phillips by doubling to right and extending the lead to 6-3. Meadows was stranded on second with the next three outs.
Springs’ second inning of work? No big deal, just a casual blown lead. Andrew Benintendi singled, Springs walked Michael A. Taylor and Hanser Alberto hit a two-run triple before Springs recorded the inning’s first out. Ryan Thompson was brought in to try and save the lead, but he did not do that.
Thompson recorded the second out before allowing Carlos Santana to hit a two-run home run. 7-6 Royals. Salvador Perez struck out to end the inning.
The good news for the Rays is they are a pretty good team. Kevin Kiermaier hit a one-out single, moved up to third on a poor throw from catcher Salvador Perez, and was driven home on a double by pinch-hitter Randy Arozarena to tie the game up at 7. Arozarena moved up to third on an Adames sacrifice fly, but Brett Phillips stranded him to end the inning. Ryan Thompson stayed in and pitched a clean bottom of the eighth.
Austin Meadows led off the top of the ninth with a blooping single to right. Yoshi flew out for the first out of the inning, and as a result, Manuel Margot was brought in to pinch-run for Meadows. That could not have been a better move for the Rays, as Joey Wendle hit a double down the third base line. Margot’s speed allowed him to score from first and give the Rays an 8-7 lead.
Put some respect, not batting gloves, on Joey Wendle’s name! pic.twitter.com/CNxNnl6F5z
— Tampa Bay Rays (@RaysBaseball) April 22, 2021
Brandon Lowe and Yandy Diaz both flew out to end the inning, so it was up to Diego Castillo to try and secure the sweep of the Royals.
Michael A. Taylor was Castillo’s first opponent, and he hit a bloop single to right field. Jarrod Dyson was brought in to pinch run for Taylor and he stole second during Hanser Alberto’s at-bat. Alberto dropped down a sacrifice bunt to move Dyson to third. Nicky Lopez placed a perfect bunt down and Dyson flew from third to score the tying run for the Royals.
Whit Merrifield grounded out for the second out and Carlos Santana was intentionally walked to bring up Salvador Perez. A passed ball moved both runners up. A line drive to left ended this one. The Royals avoided being swept by walking it off in the ninth.
The Rays dip to 10-9 after dropping tonight’s game but will look to get back in the win column Friday night. The Toronto Blue Jays are headed down to Tropicana Field with Steven Matz expected to pitch for them against Tyler Glasnow. First pitch is scheduled for 7:10 pm.