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Rays Sting Royals, Score Five Times In The Final Frame

The Tampa Bay Rays returned from a four-run ninth-inning deficit to stun the Kansas City Royals 8-7.

Today's lineup began with a new lead-off hitter: Matt Joyce. A heavy bat with plus-plus speed, he is an upgrade over tonight's left fielder, the speedy Sam Fuld. Maddon decided to give it a try, and both proved instrumental in tonight's game. Joyce went 3-for-5 with a home run and two runs scored, while Fuld went got on base in all five plate appearances (two hits, three walks), also scoring a run and driving one in on the eventual game-winning play.

Joyce led the bottom of the ninth with a single and Johnny Damon followed suit before the Royals brought Joakim Soria in for the save. With no outs Evan Longoria doubled into the left field gap to plate Joyce. Ben Zobrist then moved the runners and scored Damon on a ground out to bring the Rays in reach at 7-5.

Next, the magical Casey Kotchman "singled" Longoria home on a failed scoop at first base, cutting the deficit to 7-6. With pressure mounting, Upton struck out on three pitches. With two outs, the Legendary Sam Fuld tripled off the right field wall, the ball arcing in to the perfect slot in the gap and somehow getting over the head of Jeff Francoeur. Kotchman's pinch runner scored and the relay to third skipped away while Fuld slid into the bag.

Taking advantage of the error, Fuld slid face first again - this time into home plate to beat the throw and score the winning run. The Rays cleared the bench for a dogpile on Fuld after the thrilling comeback win.

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Watch the walk-off triple and slide here

Pitching Notes

  • The pitch Fuld pasted on the center field warning track had to have been a mistake. It was the third consecutive 92-mph cutter and hung low and down the middle. (Of coures, low to Sam Fuld is about waist high.) Soria, booked as the losing pitcher, has blown 7 saves in 28 opportunities. 
  • With the Royals leading 4-3, Jake McGee inherited a runner with two outs in the ninth before allowing a walk and a three-run blast by Melky Cabrera to put the game seemingly out of reach. He would get the final out and eventually booked with the win, despite giving up two earned runs in one-third of an inning.
  • Wade Davis looked average tonight, credited with four earned runs on six hits with a walk. Watching this game, Davis wouldn't seem subpar - but only four strike outs over 6.1 innings is no quality night. 
Photos courtesy our Rays affiliate, DRaysBay.

Photographs by cstreet.us, thelastminute, turtlemom nancy , fesek, kthypryn, justinwright, sue_elias, pointnshoot, and scrapstothefuture used in background montage under Creative Commons. Thank you.