Taylor Walls drives in go-ahead run in 8th as Rays drop Guardians 6-2 to salvage series finale
Cleveland enters crucial series against Twins five games behind Minnesota
CLEVELAND - Taylor Walls drove in the go-ahead run with a single in the eighth inning as the Tampa Bay Rays salvaged the series finale with a 6-2 win Sunday over the Cleveland Guardians, who missed a chance to gain ground on Minnesota in the AL Central.
Walls lined a single to right off Trevor Stephan (6-5) to bring home Jose Siri, who slid headfirst and safely around rookie catcher Bo Naylor’s attempted sweep tag. Siri had walked with two outs and stole second to set the table for Walls.
René Pinto hit a two-run homer for the Rays, who added three more runs in the ninth off Cleveland reliever Eli Morgan.
The Guardians got only five hits and stayed five games behind the first-place Twins with the season growing short. Minnesota, which lost 6-5 at Texas, opens a critical three-game series at Progressive Field starting Monday.
Tampa Bay reliever Colin Poche (10-3) got the win, and Pete Fairbanks snuffed a ninth-inning Cleveland threat by getting two outs for his 19th save.
Josh Naylor had an RBI in his return for Cleveland.
Playing for the first time since July 31, when he strained an oblique, the Guardians ' slugger delivered a game-tying RBI single in the fifth off Rays starter Taj Bradley to tie it 2-all.
The Guardians have missed Naylor’s presence in the middle of their lineup, but now have him back for the season’s most meaningful stretch.
Cleveland right fielder Ramón Laureano kept it tied in the sixth with a sliding catch on the warning track to take extra bases away from Siri.
With two Rays on base, Laureano sprinted into the right-field corner and nabbed Siri’s shot just before it touched down.
Bradley’s first appearance for the Rays since July 29 was also his first against Cleveland and the AL Central.
The rookie right-hander started strongly this season, going 3-0 in April before he began to struggle in June. The Rays sent him down to Triple-A Durham after he went 0-3 with a 7.89 ERA in July. He was recalled Sunday when Tampa Bay placed reliever Jason Adam (oblique) on the injured list.
Guardians starter Xzavion Curry held the Rays in check until the third, when an error by second baseman Andrés Giménez got Tampa Bay going.
Giménez ranged to field a grounder by leadoff hitter Taylor Walls in the hole, but his throw to first pulled Kole Calhoun off the bag. Walls stole on second on Curry’s next pitch, and one out later, Pinto connected for just his second homer.
Tampa Bay’s Robert Stephenson came oh-so-close to a baseball rarity on Saturday.
Stephenson struck out the side on nine pitches — an immaculate inning — in the 10th inning of a 7-6 loss, but was not credited with one because the Rays intentionally walked Giménez with two outs.
While there is no “official” definition of an immaculate inning, Stephenson did not get one because he allowed a baserunner.
The Rays have had three of the 114 recorded immaculate innings. Cleveland has four.
Rays: Adam, who has appeared in a team-high 55 games, had been bothered by his oblique for several days, and the Rays were hoping rest would help before they decided to put him on the IL. An MRI confirmed the strain. Adam is confident he’ll be back for the end of the season.
Rays: Open a three-game series at home against Boston with RHP Aaron Civale (7-3, 2.64 ERA) facing Red Sox RHP Brayan Bello (10-8, 3.57).
Guardians: RHP Lucas Giolito (7-11, 4.45) makes his debut for Cleveland, which made a stunning move by claiming him and two relievers off waivers last week from the Los Angeles Angels. Pablo López (9-7, 3,72) starts for the Twins.
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