ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. – Gerrit Cole entered Sunday afternoon’s game against the Rays at Tropicana Field not having allowed a home run in his first 46 2/3 innings this season. He had not allowed more than two runs in any of his seven starts. Given all that, things did not look good for the home team when it fell behind Cole and the Yankees 6-0 in the fifth.
Alas, these are the 2023 Rays.
Christian Bethancourt’s two-run homer in the sixth knotted the score at six. The drama continued until the 10th inning when Isaac Paredes’ single scored designated runner Brandon Lowe with the winning run in an 8-7 win.
“I don’t know how you quantify games in May, but this was a big one,” said manager Kevin Cash, whose team took two of three from the Yankees.
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Cole’s streak without allowing a homer reached 51 innings before Jose Siri went deep with one out in the fifth to make it 6-1. Though the Rays were still down by five, the blast, which carried over the center field wall, proved to be quite a spark.
“Siri getting us on the board with a home run, that was big,” said Cash. “That kind of relaxed us. We knew we had our hands full facing Gerrit, and we stayed at it.”
Unfortunately, the Rays (28-7) did not make it through the weekend without suffering yet another injury. Garrett Cleavinger, pitching the 10th inning, was involved in a rundown between third and home with Aaron Hicks when the reliever appeared to injure his right knee. Cash said Cleavinger is likely headed to the IL.
With Cleavinger exiting, and with two outs in the 10th, Jalen Beeks was summoned to get the final out of the inning. The lefty struck out Anthony Rizzo and picked up the win.
“I just wanted to pick him up,” said Beeks of coming on for his injured teammate. “It was a big game. It was fun, and I was happy with the outcome.”
With Sunday’s victory, the Rays went 5-1 during their homestand against the Pirates and Yankees. Their record at the Trop this season is 19-3.
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Sunday’s announced attendance of 32,132 was the largest for a regular season game since 40,135 on June 17, 2016, against the Giants.
The Rays embark on their longest road trip of the season, 10 games in 11 days, that begins Monday evening in Baltimore, where Shane McClanahan (6-0, 2.03) will be opposed by Kyle Gibson (4-1, 4.61). After three games with the Orioles, it is off to New York for four games against the Yankees and, following a day off May 15, three against the Mets.
The Rays return home for a 10-game homestand that gets underway May 19 versus Milwaukee. The Blue Jays and Dodgers also visit the Trop.
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