Guardians rally, beat Rays 2-1 to deny Tampa playoff clinch
CLEVELAND (AP) — Rookies Oscar Gonzalez and Steven Kwan drove in runs in the eighth inning as the Cleveland Guardians…
CLEVELAND (AP) — Rookies Oscar Gonzalez and Steven Kwan drove in runs in the eighth inning as the Cleveland Guardians kept Tampa Bay from clinching one of the AL’s three wild-card spots, rallying to beat the Rays 2-1 on Thursday night.
The Central champion Guardians took two of three in a tight series — and maybe a playoff preview. Two games went to extra innings and all three were decided by one run.
After Baltimore lost in Boston earlier, the Rays took the field needing a win to make the postseason for the fourth year in a row. But they couldn’t hold off a Cleveland team that has fought back all season.
Tampa Bay had a chance in the ninth inning, loading the bases on three walks by Trevor Stephan. But Ji-Man Choi struck out and Isaac Paredes flied out short right as Stephan earned his third save.
The Rays will go to Houston to try and lock up a spot in the postseason field.
The Guardians have 37 come-from-behind wins and extended their team record to 29 victories in their final at-bat. Enyel De Los Santos (1-0) pitched a perfect eighth as Cleveland improved to 20-4 since Sept. 4.
Shut out for seven innings, the Guardians got a pinch-hit single off Shawn Armstrong (2-3) from rookie Will Brennan to start the eighth. Myles Straw sacrificed and Kwan doubled to tie it 1-all.
The Rays walked the dangerous José Ramírez with two outs to face Gonzalez, who hit a slow roller to the right side just out of Choi’s reach at first as Brennan scored.
Cleveland’s comeback kept Cal Quantrill unbeaten in 33 starts at Progressive Field. The righ-hander allowed just one run and three hits in six innings but appeared to be on his way to a tough loss before his teammates rallied.
Tampa’s Jeffrey Springs pitched three-hit ball over six innings.
While the Tampa Bay-St. Petersburg area was spared a direct hit from Hurricane Ian, the slow-moving storm caused massive flooding and damage across Florida.
“St. Pete and the Bay area did OK, but our friends and family and co-workers in Port Charlotte and Fort Myers not so much,” manager Kevin Cash said. “So want to send some well wishes to them that we’re thinking about them and know that it’s a pretty trying time.”
Cleveland’s now has two Naylors.
The Guardians brought up catcher Bo Naylor, first baseman Josh’s younger brother, to be on their taxi squad. He can work out with the team before games, take a spot on the bench during them and catch bullpen sessions.
The 22-year-old, who split the season between Double-A Akron and Triple-A Columbus, said his brother was thrilled to have him around.
“Everything that I tell him, he’s over the moon for it,” Naylor said. “He’s a really supportive brother and with everything that goes on, he’s always behind me 100%. It’s really good to be able to be with him here and be able to share this experience with him.”
Guardians: RHP Zach Plesac (broken hand) will make his first start since Aug. 27 on Saturday. He was initially scheduled to pitch Friday, but the team made the switch so Aaron Civale will be lined up to pitch Game 1 of the AL Division Series if Cleveland advances.
Rays: Begin a three-game series against AL West champion Houston with Drew Rasmussen (10-7, 2.85 ERA) facing LHP Framber Valdez (16-5, 2.69).
Guardians: Civale (3-6, 5.19) starts the opener of a six-game series against Kansas City to finish the regular season. The Royals will counter with RHP Brady Singer (10-4, 2.99).
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