Craig mentioned earlier how Joe Girardi’s over-managing in the first inning resulted in Carlos Pena hitting a grand slam against CC Sabathia. Well, Pena wasn’t doing playing hero in his first game back in Tampa Bay.
The Yankees actually rallied back from the early deficit, handing the ball to all-time saves leader Mariano Rivera with a 6-5 lead in the bottom of the ninth. However, he quickly gave up a single to Desmond Jennings and a triple to Ben Zobrist to erase the lead. Girardi then called for back-to-back intentional walks to Evan Longoria and Luke Scott to load the bases and set up the force play. Rivera was able to get Sean Rodriguez swinging for the first out of the inning, but then Pena hit a long fly ball to left field which Brett Gardner let fall for the game-winning hit. It was a 7-6 walk-off win for the Rays in a thrilling opener.
Couldn’t imagine a better homecoming for Pena, but something tells me we’ll get at least a couple “Is Mariano Finally Done?” columns on our doorstep tomorrow. Suckers.
Brewers outfielder Eric Thames made an early exit from Friday’s game against the Cardinals after colliding with Lorenzo Cain on an outfield catch in the first inning. According to an official report, he has been diagnosed with right knee soreness and is presumably day-to-day for the time being.
It was a brutal collision knocked both outfielders flat on their backs, but they were able to resume their positions and stick it out for the rest of the inning. Thames was up in the second, too, and struck out on five pitches from St. Louis right-hander Jack Flaherty before making an eventual exit in the top of the third. He was replaced on the field and in the lineup by Hernan Perez.
Entering Friday’s contest, the 31-year-old Thames carried a .230/.308/.516 batting line, 16 home runs and an .824 OPS in his second full season with the Brewers. He hasn’t replicated the career-high .247-average, 31-homer, 2.1-fWAR totals of his breakout performance in 2017, though that’s likely due to a combination of decreased playing time and lengthy recovery periods mandated by several significant injuries, including a torn UCL in his left thumb and a right hamstring strain. There’s no word yet on when he might return to the lineup this season.