AL Pennant Race
Tampa Bay Rays' Isaac Paredes reacts after hitting a solo home run off St. Louis Cardinals starting pitcher Miles Mikolas during the seventh inning of a baseball game Tuesday, Aug. 8, 2023, in St. Petersburg, Fla. (AP Photo/Chris O'Meara)

Rays Ride Late-Game Surge To 4-2 Victory Over Cardinals

The Tampa Bay Rays took their time in finding their rhythm offensively on Tuesday night. But, as the ages-old saying goes, better to show up late than never.

Despite some struggles early on in the evening, Tampa Bay came away with a 4-2 win over the St. Louis Cardinals. After putting up a goose egg on the scoreboard for the first six innings, the Rays scored all four of their runs in their final two innings at the plate.

Yandy Diaz celebrated his 32nd birthday in style, with perhaps his finest performance of the 2023 season coming on Tuesday night. Diaz record a 4-for-4 performance in the batter’s box while tallying one RBI and one run. Brandon Lowe, Randy Arozarena and Isaac Paredes each knocked in an RBI for the Rays as well. Josh Lowe chipped in with an eighth-inning triple that eventually allowed him to score as well.

On the mound, Zach Eflin got the start for the Rays and put together a strong outing. Through seven innings pitched, Eflin only gave up four hits, zero walks and one run. He also struck out eight batters throughout the evening. Jason Adam took over in the top of the eighth inning, allowing no hits or runs and only surrendering two walks in the inning.

Pete Fairbanks then came out for the final inning to seal the deal for Tampa Bay. Despite giving up a solo home run to St. Louis, Fairbanks prevented any further damage to shut down the chance of a Cardinals comeback. Fairbanks was credited for his 15th save of the season, while Adam wound up with his third win of the 2023 campaign.

Rays Start Off The Night Slow

St. Louis kicked off their evening with a bang in the top of the second inning. Nolan Arenado led the Cardinals off with a 378-foot blast for his 24th homer on the year. Now facing a 1-0 deficit, the Rays could not find a way to respond in the batter’s box.

Arozarena hit a leadoff single in the bottom of the second. He then reached third base with just one out on the board. However, Tanpa Bay failed to bring him home, as the subsequent two batters went down on back-to-back swinging strikeouts. In the third inning, Diaz nailed another single into right field, but he was tagged out at second base as he attempted to turn it into a double. The Rays failed to record a hit in the following two innings.

Tampa Bay began to show signs of life again in the bottom of the sixth inning. Christian Bethancourt led off the inning with a single into left field, and Diaz followed him up with a knock into right. But that would be as far as the Rays managed to get in the inning. Wander Franco grounded into a double play in the next at-bat to kill off Tampa Bay’s newfound momentum.

Tampa Bay Takes Over In The Final Three Innings

In the seventh inning, the Rays finally broke through on the bats. With one out on the board and the bases empty, Isaac Paredes sent a ball 383 feet into left field. As the ball soared over the fence, the fans at Tropicana Field rose to their feet and roared with glee. After six innings of offensive stagnation, Tampa Bay had finally evened up the score at 1-1. From that point on, the Rays never looked back.

In the eighth inning, everything clicked for Tampa Bay at the plate. Josh Lowe belted a leadoff triple deep into center field, and Diaz brought him home with his fourth hit of the game. After Diaz advanced to second base on a single from Franco, he managed to score his first run of the game on an RBI knock from Brandon Lowe. Franco then made it home himself following a single into center field from Arozarena. Just like that, the Rays had now gone up 4-1.

Brandon Lowe ended up being tagged out at home later in the inning to prevent any more runs from scoring for Tampa Bay. Nevertheless, they now had a three-run cushion entering the final inning of play. Willson Contreras managed to give the Rays a scare with a 404-feet home run into right field. Fairbanks, however, did not let Contreras’ solo shot shake him. He secured the final three outs of the evening with ease to clinch the victory for Tampa Bay.

The Rays and Cardinals will return to Tropicana Field on Wednesday evening for game two of their midweek series. First pitch is set for 6:40 p.m. EDT.

About Jack Meyer

Jack Meyer is a third-year student at the University of Florida. He is majoring in Journalism and specializing in Sports and Media.

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