Rays again rally late against Rockies. This time, they hang on for win

DENVER — The Rays spent much of Saturday night looking like they didn’t want to be on the field.

Temperatures were in the 40s, feels-like readings in the low 30s and winds gusting to 35 mph and more. Pop flies drifted from the third-base side of the field to first, trash swirled from the stands onto the field, and players pulled on multiple layers of clothes, stuffed hand warmers under their jerseys and wore masks on their faces.

Baseball, to paraphrase, was not fun, and the Rays’ five-run deficit after six innings reflected it.

But then they got hot late, rallying for two runs in the seventh and, with two outs, five more in the eighth. And unlike Friday, when they rallied for five in the ninth before their bullpen blew it, this time the Rays hung on for an 8-6 win.

“It felt great,” said reliever Colin Poche. “The position players really, really came through again for a second day. Really, really good stuff from them. They didn’t quit. Tough weather, tough conditions, and they stuck with it to the end. And for us (relievers), happily we were able to nail this one down.”

There were several hands in the win.

Richie Palacios made a run-saving catch against the rightfield wall and scored during both rallies. Isaac Paredes homered — of course, to leftfield — to start the scoring with two outs in the eighth. Amed Rosario singled in the tying run, off ex-Ray Jalen Beeks, and Yandy Diaz put them ahead with a two-run single. Jason Adam and Poche, who both faltered on Friday, combined for the final six outs, with manager Kevin Cash saying usual closer Pete Fairbanks was unavailable.

“We’ve got some dawgs in here, guys that are just grinders,” Palacios said. “We just grind through those ABs, and we were able to put some good swings together, put some walks together and definitely grind out a win there.”

The Rays improved to 4-5 and avoided losing two straight to a Rockies team that started the season 1-6 and was outscored 58-24. Cash suggested the win also could serve as an impetus for some of the contributing hitters who had been off to slow starts.

“Our guys — I know we have not made it look easy here as of late — but they’re a confident group there,” Cash said. “It’s just a matter of time when they get going.”

For much of the night, it didn’t look like that time would be Saturday. The Rays scored a run in the first on Paredes’ RBI single, and then went 14 at-bats without a hit, striking out 10 times in six innings against Colorado starter Ryan Feltner while falling behind 6-1.

They got two back in the seventh on a double by catcher Ben Rortvedt, who also had a big hit in Friday’s rally. Then, Palacios made the running catch to end the seventh and keep it 6-3.

“The wind was going all different types of ways, so when the ball’s hit, I just sprinted toward where I thought it was going to land,” Palacios said. “Got a good jump on it and was able to secure it.”

Added Cash: “I can’t imagine being an outfielder out there (Saturday). It’s really challenging. It’s a big outfield to begin with, and then you add the wind. But he played great out there.”

After two quick outs in the eighth, Paredes said he was just trying to get on base — and to not strike out. Instead, he drove a 1-2 pitch from Tyler Kinley over the leftfield fence, giving him his 56th career homer, all in that direction.

“I know I’ve started the year off with a lot of strikeouts,” Paredes said via team interpreter Manny Navarro. “But I was just trying to find a way to get on base, and luckily I was able to hit that homer to start off that rally.”

Palacios followed with a single, and Harold Ramirez hit an RBI double to cut the lead to 6-5. Rosario then singled in the tying run, and Beeks walked Rortvedt and Jose Siri to load the bases. The Rockies next tried Justin Lawrence, who blew the lead Friday. Diaz welcomed him by smoking a 100.9 mph grounder that skipped past first baseman Michael Toglia.

“I was just trying to hit the ball hard, wherever it was,” Diaz said, via Navarro. “Honestly, I thought he was going to get it. It must have hit a little rock or something, and it gave me a nice little bounce there.”

Adam worked a 1-2-3 eighth, and Poche, who corrected mechanical issues that reduced his velocity on Friday, did the same in the ninth.

After what Cash acknowledged was a “frustrating” Friday and with a similar start Saturday in the brutal conditions, the Rays were quite pleased with the outcome.

“A really good team win overall,” Poche said.

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