The Rays lost Game 2 of their ALDS matchup with the Rangers this afternoon in Tampa and face elimination Saturday in Texas. But it wasn’t all fire and brimstone at Tropicana Field.
In the eighth inning, as impending free agent Carl Crawford stepped to the plate, a large section of Rays fans began chanting “CAR-L CRAW-FORD … CAR-L CRAW-FORD … CAR-L CRAW-FORD.”
Crawford grounded out on the first pitch of his at-bat. But, as he took his place in left field for the top of the ninth inning, the chants started again. “CAR-L CRAW-FORD … CAR-L CRAW-FORD … CAR-L CRAW-FORD.” It filled the stadium and could be heard clearly through the TBS telecast.
Rays fans get a lot of guff because of their early-exits from important games and the perennially low attendance numbers at The Trop, but Thursday’s chant showed a great deal of intelligence and consciousness on the part of the fanbase.
Unless the Rays squeak out two wins in Texas, Thursday’s game was probably the last Crawford will ever play as a member of the home team in Tampa. The 29-year-old batted .307/.356/.495 with 19 homers and 47 stolen bases in 600 at-bats during the regular season while showing excellent range in the outfield. He will be courted this offseason by baseball’s biggest spenders.
Angels DH Albert Pujols passed Mark McGwire for sole possession of 10th place on baseball’s all-time home run leaderboard, slugging his 584th career home run in the first inning of Wednesday night’s game against the Blue Jays.
Mike Trout had already slugged a solo home run off of Jays starter Marco Estrada to bring Pujols to the dish. Pujols jumped on an 0-1 cut fastball, sending it out to left-center field, clearing the fence by a few feet.
Pujols, who finished 4-for-4 with the homer and an RBI double, is batting .257/.321/.441 with 24 home runs and 99 RBI on the year. His next target on the home run leaderboard is Frank Robinson at 586.
Orioles closer Zach Britton had appeared in a major league record 43 consecutive games without allowing an earned run, spanning May 5 to August 22. That streak came to an end on Wednesday evening against the Nationals.
The Orioles entered the bottom of the ninth inning holding a 10-3 lead, but reliever Parker Bridwell immediately found himself in hot water. He yielded back-to-back singles to Danny Espinosa and Clint Robinson. He was able to strike out Trea Turner, but walked Jayson Werth to load the bases. Daniel Murphy then crushed his first career grand slam to make it a 10-7 game. That prompted manager Buck Showalter to bring in Britton.
Britton, too, was knocked around. He served up a single to Bryce Harper, followed by a double to Anthony Rendon that scored Harper, pushing the score to 10-8 and ending Britton’s streak. Wilson Ramos reached on a fielder’s choice back to Britton, but the lefty finally finished the game by getting Ryan Zimmerman to ground into a game-ending 4-6-3 double play.
Britton now holds a nice 0.69 ERA with 38 saves and a 61/16 K/BB ratio in 52 innings of work this season.