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Longo, Joyce, Rodriguez Homer; Rays Beat The Rangers Late, 5-4

The Rays (29-25) won in thrilling fashion, beating the Texas Rangers (29-26) on a late Evan Longoria home run. Though the game started as a pitching duel between Alex Cobb (6.1 IP and 3 ER) and C.J. Wilson (6.2 and 3 ER, 10 Ks), each pitcher got tagged for late game runs, turning the game into a bullpen stop-the-bleeding fest.

With two outs in the 3rd inning, the Rangers got two base runners and Adrian Beltre returned a fastball up the middle, giving them an early 1-0 lead. Then in the bottom of the inning, Wilson gave up a no-doubt home run to Sean Rodriguez to tie the game 1-1.

The game remained tied until the top of the 7th, when an Ian Kinsler bloop hit scored Mike Napoli, who was aggressively running from second on the play. Cobb then walked the next runner and then left in favor of J.P. Howell, who struck out Josh Hamilton, but allowed an RBI-single to Michael Young.

The Rays again responded in the following half-inning as Matt Joyce crushed his 9th homer of the year with B.J. Upton on second, tying the game at 3-3. The lead did not last long as J.P. Howell put the first two runners on and a Joel Peralta wild pitch/passed ball (you, the viewer, decide) gave the Rangers a 4-3 lead.

When the game seemed all but lost, Johnny Damon blooped a single and then Longo hit his sky-scraping 4th home run of the season, giving the Rays the final 5-4 lead in the bottom of the 8th. Farnsworth then came in and taught the Rangers how to say save in Australian.

Notes from the game:

  • Matt Joyce and Sean Rodriguez are both vying for more playing time. For Joyce to earn everyday PAs, he needs to prove he can hit left-handed pitchers and he certainly did that tonight, homering off of a very tough lefty in C.J. Wilson. His home run had full-time starter written all over it.
  • Longoria's homer went out by like a foot, likely causing somewhere around 50 heart attacks in the great Tampa Bay area. Josh Hamilton looked ready to catch it at 3 for 4 separate moments. A little breeze in the wrong direction, and the Rays would be 28-25. #allpraisethedome
  • Fun fact: All three homers came with 2 outs and were the Rays only extra-base hits tonight.
  • With the Red Sox loss tonight, the Rays are now 1 game behind the Yankees, a half game behind the Sox, and 1.5 games ahead of the Blue Jays. Not that it really matters too much because it is very, very early.

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