The Tampa Bay Rays scored four runs in the game’s middle innings and went on to beat the Pittsburgh Pirates by a 4-1 score at Tropicana Field on Tuesday.
This series grabbed headlines this week, not only because it is being played between the best two teams in Major League Baseball, but because both teams have been huge surprises in the league’s first month of the season.
Pittsburgh had opportunities on Tuesday night, but squandered those chances with runners in scoring position, managing only a single run.
Roansy Contreras took the loss for the Bucs, giving up four runs on six hits with four walks in 5.1 innings on the mound. Tampa used a total of seven pitchers, including Colin Poche who tallied the win (3-0) and Jason Adam who notched his first save of the year.
Tampa scored the game’s first run in the bottom of the fourth inning. Harold Ramirez singled to right field, scoring Randy Arozarena to make it 1-0. But Pittsburgh tied the game in the top of the fifth, scoring their lone run of the game. A sacrifice fly by Carlos Santana scored Ke’Bryan Hayes to make it 1-1.
Wander Franco’s single in the bottom of the fifth scored Manuel Margot to break the tie, giving the Rays a 2-1 lead. Later, an orchestrated double steal, Franco to second base and Jose Siri to home, increased the lead to 3-1. After the Pirates squandered a run-scoring opportunity in the top of the sixth, Ramirez hit a solo homerun, his sixth long ball of the season, in the bottom of the sixth to increase the lead to 4-1, which would be the final score.
As a team, the Pirates left a whopping 22 runners on base, including five by Santana and four by Andrew McCutchen and Jack Suwinski. If you want to beat the better (and in this case, the best) teams in the league, you have to make big plays in those key moments. The Bucs didn’t do that on Tuesday, and that’s why they came up short.
Despite the loss, the Pirates did have plenty of opportunities on Tuesday, and if a few more at-bats went differently, the outcome could have gone their way. They will look to even things up on Wednesday afternoon when they take the field in the second game of this series. Mitch Keller will be on the mound for Pittsburgh against Shane McClanahan for Tampa Bay.
Record vs. Rays: 0-1
Record vs. American League: 6-4
Record on the Road: 11-6
Overall Record: 20-10
Let’s Go Bucs!