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Rays Drop Opener As Rally Falls Short In Arlington

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The Tampa Bay Rays spotted the Texas Rangers a five-run lead heading into the eighth inning Friday night, and nearly rallied all the way back to force extra innings, but left the potential tying run at third base in the top of the ninth inning, falling 5-4 at Globe Life Field.

Both teams’ starters started out strong, with both Josh Fleming and Kyle Gibsonworking quickly and keeping the ball on the ground.  But it would be the Rangers who would get to Fleming in the third, as Willie Calhoun singled, moved to second on a sacrifice bunt by Jose Trevino and took third on a fielder’s choice by Isiah Kiner-FalefaAdolis Garcia grounded to third and Tampa Bay tried turning the double play, but Kiner-Falefa’s slide allowed Garcia to reach and Calhoun to score.

Texas added three more runs in the fourth on a RBI single by Nate Lowe, a safety squeeze bunt by Charlie Culberson, and a base hit by Calhoun, and Joey Gallo‘s solo homer in the fifth gave the Rangers a 5-0 lead.

Meawhile, Gibson pitched shutout baseball into the sixth, allowing five hits and striking out five.

Tampa Bay finally got on the board in the eighth, as Francisco Mejia led off the inning against Josh Sborz with a base hit, and two batters later, Brandon Lowe deposited a pitch into the bullpen for his tenth home run of the year.

Ian Kennedy loaded the bases in the ninth thanks to a base hit by Austin meadows and a walk to Yandy Diaz with nobody out, and a walk to Taylor Walls with one out in the inning following a fielders choice by Kevin Kiermaier.  Pinch-hitter Manuel Margot flew out for the second out of the inning, and Brett Phillips got the Rays back to within a run with a two-run single.

But with Walls at third base representing the tying run, Brandon Lowe struck out on three pitches to end the game.

The loss in Tampa Bay’s third in their last four games following a stretch of 16 wins in a 17 game period.

Rich Hill (4-2, 3.32 ERA) will look to get the Rays back even in the series when he takes the mound Saturday against Kolby Allard (1-1, 3.38 ERA).  First pitch is scheduled for 4:05.

Written By

Steve Carney is the founder and publisher of St. Pete Nine. One of the people most associated with baseball coverage in Tampa Bay, he spent 13 seasons covering the Rays for flagship radio station WDAE, first as producer of Rays Radio broadcasts, then as beat reporter beginning in 2011. He likes new analytics and aged bourbon, and is the owner of one of the ugliest knuckleballs ever witnessed by baseball scouts.

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