The Rays downed the Mets in their high-scoring Spring Training matchup today, winning 10-4.
Solid Sunday pic.twitter.com/4VK87Gyebx
— Tampa Bay Rays (@RaysBaseball) March 12, 2023
The game started out as a pitchers’ duel, going scoreless through the first two innings. Mets starting pitcher Carlos Carrasco notched three strikeouts through the first two frames. Rays starter Luis Patiño almost matched Carrasco, tallying two of his own.
The Rays cracked open the scoring in the top of the third with Niko Hulsizer’s solo shot, making the score 1-0. Outfielder Mark Canha could only watch as the ball sailed over his head, following the ball until someone at the left field tiki bar got a souvenir. By the time Canha turned back around, Hulsizer was already rounding third. Carrasco coaxed a Kameron Misner strikeout and a Curtis Mead fly out to end the inning.
Hulsizer had a terrific day for the Rays. The non-roster invitee notched three hits, two of which were home runs, in addition to a walk and a stolen base. He’s batting .455 through eleven plate appearances this spring.
The Mets made things interesting in the bottom of the third, with Luis Guillorme lasering a ball to center field after a lengthy at-bat. Guillorme’s hit, as well as a deep Ronny Mauricio fly ball, prompted Tampa Bay manager Kevin Cash to pull Patiño after 2.2 innings.
Evan Reifert replaced Patiño. Reifert immediately walked Brandon Nimmo, who made his Spring Training debut today after signing an 8-year, $162 million contract this offseason. The walk put runners on first and second, with Guillorme still on base after his single. Each advanced a base after a wild pitch from Reifert.
Ultimately Reifert was able to strike Starling Marte out swinging to end the inning. Marte left the game in the fifth inning after Rays pitcher Elvin Rodriguez nailed him in the head with a pitch. Marte did not fall over, but instead immediately walked to the dugout with third base coach Joey Cora.
“[Marte] ooks good. They did a lot of tests on him. Doesn’t show any signs of a concussion. We’ll see how he feels tomorrow. May have gotten lucky, we’ll see. Hope so,” said Mets manager Buck Showalter.
Tampa really broke the scoring open in the top of the fourth, adding two more runs to their tally. The scoring run started after Nimmo lost the ball in the sun, allowing Tristan Gray to reach second after hitting what should have been a very catchable fly ball. Kyle Manzardo homered later that inning to drive himself and Gray in, pushing Tampa’s lead to 3-0.
The Mets struck back in the bottom of the fourth. Third baseman Danny Mendick hit a fly ball to center that Kameron Misner, like Nimmo, lost in the sun. Mendick would advance to second. He would then steal third, sending the home crowd into a frenzy. A Tommy Pham sacrifice fly ran the infielder in, closing Tampa’s lead to 3-1.
The Mets notched another run in the fifth with a Mauricio solo shot, making the game 3-2. Omar De Los Santos, pinch-running for the injured Marte, wound up at third. Ultimately Misner caught this Mendick fly ball, ending New York’s rally attempt.
After a quiet sixth inning, the Rays extended their lead with Hulsizer’s second homer, this time off Mets’ reliever Drew Smith. However, a Mets rally in the bottom of the sixth would tie things up.
New York’s rally started small, with shortstop Kevin Kendall coaxing a walk from Rays pitcher Michael Mercado. Lorenzo Cedrola then singled to center, sending Kendall to second. De Los Santos then singled to deep center, with the shortstop running home and the tying run advancing to third. Mercado then walked William Lugo, loading the bases. Carlos Cortes grounded into a double play, sending Lugo jogging back to the dugout and Cedrola sprinting over home plate. JT Schwartz would strike out swinging to end the inning.
The Rays decided to stop playing with their food in the top of the eighth, bombarding Mets pitcher Joey Lucchesi with a handful of doubles to score three more runs, pushing the game to 7-4. Lucchesi took the official loss after starting the Mets’ late bleeding.
The Rays repeated their success in the ninth inning, with Mets pitcher Bryce Montes de Oca struggling to find the strike zone. Montes de Oca walked his first three batters to load the bases. A Manzardo double sent Tanner Murray and Tristan Peters of the Rays home, with Tristan Gray settling for third base. Gray wouldn’t last long at third, with a Logan Driscoll fly out sending the runner home.
The Mets looked lost in the last frame, and ultimately a Kendall single wasn’t enough to get a rally going. The Rays won, 10-4.