Crawford’s second homer of the game started a 10-run, 14-batter, 32-minute barrage in the fifth inning, and the Rays defeated the Florida Marlins 15-3 Wednesday night to stay within one game of Boston in the AL East.
Crawford had a career-high five RBIs. Evan Longoria had three hits and three RBIs, including his 13th homer of the year in that colossal fifth—during which the Rays came within one run of matching the biggest inning in franchise history.
“Just a bad day for the Fish,” said Marlins manager Fredi Gonzalez.
“It was nice to watch,” offered Rays manager Joe Maddon.
The Rays set season highs for runs scored and for victory margin, and tied a season best with four home runs: Ben Zobrist also connected for Tampa Bay (46-31), which didn’t reach the 46-win mark last year until Aug. 15.
“That was something special tonight,” Longoria said. “We don’t click too often. Tonight hitting just became contagious.”
James Shields (5-5) allowed four hits, one run and struck out five over seven innings, getting his first win in eight starts for the Rays, who beat Florida for the second straight night and clinched the season series against their Sunshine State rival.
“We kind of put this one behind us in like the seventh inning, when it was 14-0 or 15-0,” Uggla said.
Some shoddy Tampa Bay defense could be forgiven in this one.
“Fifteen runs in a game, it’s a little easier to pitch that way,” Shields said. “I’ll take that every game.”
The Rays took a 4-0 lead into the fifth, then simply began teeing off against Marlins starter Ryan Tucker (2-2) and just about everyone else who relieved him.
“Definitely the worst I’ve felt since I’ve been here,” Tucker said. “Nothing was working for me.”
That was a shared sentiment throughout the Marlins’ clubhouse.
Tucker was replaced by Eulogio De La Cruz, summoned earlier Wednesday from Triple-A Albuquerque to be the Marlins’ long reliever. Longoria greeted De La Cruz with a homer, and a few minutes later, the young right-hander headed to the Marlins’ dugout having been unable to retire any of the six batters he faced.
Shields hit a bases-loaded grounder that Hanley Ramirez booted, allowing Gabe Gross and Dioner Navarro to score for a 10-0 lead. Iwamura hit an RBI double, Crawford had an RBI groundout, and Upton and Longoria added run-scoring singles to cap the burst.
Tucker allowed seven runs and eight hits in four-plus innings, by far the worst start of his four-appearance major league career. In two outings against the Rays, Tucker is 0-2 with a 12.00 ERA; against anyone else, he’s 2-0 with a 2.45 ERA.
“A bad game all around,” Tucker said.
The Rays’ franchise record for runs in an inning is 11, done twice: last Aug. 27 at Baltimore, and on May 28, 2000, against Seattle. It also was the most runs allowed by the Marlins in an inning this season, easily topping the seven they yielded in the second inning at Philadelphia on May 30.
Jacobs spoiled the shutout bid in the sixth, hitting a solo shot into the left-field seats. Uggla delivered an RBI single in the eighth.
It was the third time Tampa Bay scored exactly 10 runs in an inning. … Crawford has had three other two-homer games in his career, all coming between May 26 and June 30, 2006. … Longoria had three hits for the third time this season. … Hermida’s third-inning single stretched his hitting streak to a career-best 12 games for the Marlins. … The teams play a rare 12:10 p.m. start to end the series Thursday. … De La Cruz’s ERA climbed from 6.00 to 21.00.