Several hours after his formal induction into the Sports Club of Tampa Bay Hall of Fame, former Rays manager Joe Maddon watched his current team oblige him with a bit of pop and circumstance.
At least momentarily.
The Rays survived two first-inning Angels home runs with three runs in the bottom of the first, then got a solid effort from an ensemble of pitchers for a 4-3 triumph Friday before a Tropicana Field crowd of 7,909. The win, Tampa Bay’s third in a row, was the 500th for manager Kevin Cash.
A night after topping the Red Sox, 1-0, when Manuel Margot scored on a walk-off wild pitch, the Rays (46-31) delivered another bizarre climax.
With one out and the bases loaded in the bottom of the seventh, pinch-hitter Brandon Lowe was hit by sidearm right-handed reliever Steve Cishek, allowing Yandy Diaz to score the winning run. Preceding Lowe was Austin Meadows’ high, one-out popup to shallow left field that fell between a triangle of Angels players, loading the bases.
Joey Wendle followed with a sharp liner over the middle that was snagged by shortstop Jose Iglesias, who stepped on second to double off Ji-Man Choi and end the inning.
Four batters into the game, Maddon’s club had a 2-0 lead. Angels resident pitcher-slugger Shohei Ohtani sent Rays opener Andrew Kittredge’s third pitch deep to right field, where it hit a D-ring catwalk en route to a 453-foot home run. The blast, which had a 116.1-mph exit velocity, was Ohtani’s career-best 24th of the season, and sixth in his past nine games.
Three batters later, Anthony Rendon followed with a solo homer to left.
The lead was as fleeting as a Florida thunderstorm.
The Rays scored three in the bottom half of the inning off 25-year-old right-hander Griffin Canning, who allowed a leadoff single to Diaz before walking Choi.