The Tampa Bay Rays (34-30) managed to beat the Baltimore Orioles (30-32) in a late-inning affair on Saturday night, coming up big in the top of the 9th and 11th innings.
David Price pitched well, but proved to be no match for home plate umpire Tim Welke. Though Price pitched 6 innings, allowing 4 runs, his real obstacle was deciphering Welke's zone, which took form of a wobbly ghost:
Welke's zone stung worst in 6th inning, when David Price threw three straight balls to Mark Reynolds, who homered then on the 3-0 fastball. Further inspection, however, reveals the offending 3-0 count was dubious if not criminal:
Reynolds's 6th inning homer -- his second homer of the night -- gave the Orioles their first lead of the evening. The Rays promptly tied the game on a Casey Kotchman RBI infield ground ball single/error combo. The tied game did not last long, as Joel Peralta hit trouble quick in the bottom of the 8th. Allowing two hits and then two consecutive walks, Peralta walked in the leading run for the Orioles, giving them a 5-4 lead going into the 9th.
Then, in a stroke of both luck and magic, Ben Zobrist hit a one-out triple off Felix Pie's glove, and Casey Kotchman slashed an line-drive RBI single into right center field.
With the game tied, the Rays relief duo of Cesar Ramos (1.1 IP) and Juan Cruz (0.2 IP, W 4-0) made the extra innings look easy. In the top of the 11th, Ben Zobrist again sparked the Rays offense, hitting a lead-off double, coming home on Evan Longoria's RBI single. Casey Kotchman then lazered yet another hit, an RBI double this time, into right center field, giving the Rays a 2-run advantage.
Kyle Farnsworth then collected his 14th save, several times making the Orioles hitters look like emo high schoolers, as is Farnsworth's way.
Notes from the game:
- Justin Ruggiano made a near-Bugs-Bunny-climbing-the-Statue-of-Liberty catch, robbing J.J. Hardy from a 7th inning home run and starting a 1-2-3 inning for a much appreciative J.P. Howell.
- Matt Joyce, despite working some good at bats and taking a walk, went 0 for 5. The hitters around him, however, went crazy. Johnny Damon, Ben Zobrist, Evan Longoria, and Casey Kotchman put together a 13 for 23 night -- good for 6 doubles, 1 triple, and a walk from Longo.
- The Boston Red Sox and New York Yankees both won today, meaning the Rays remain 4.0 games out of first place and 2.0 games behind the 2nd-place Yankees.
Images courtesy of BrooksBaseball.net.