Tampa Bay Rays use big 9th to topple Indians in Nelson Cruz’s debut

MLB power rankings, Nelson Cruz
David Richard-USA TODAY Sports

Joey Wendle ripped a go-ahead RBI single to ignite a six-run ninth inning and lift the visiting Tampa Bay Rays to a 10-5 victory over the Cleveland Indians on Friday.

Wendle, a former Indians farmhand, plated Randy Arozarena with an RBI single to left-center field off Nick Wittgren (2-3) to give Tampa Bay a 5-4 lead in the ninth inning. Ji-Man Choi belted a three-run homer to right field before Nelson Cruz scored on a groundout and Wander Franco added an RBI single to cap a three-hit performance.

Cruz went deep in his Rays debut and Arozarena turned a single into a “Little League homer” in the second inning for the Rays, who have won 10 in a row against the Indians dating back to the 2019 season.

Cleveland’s Jose Ramirez atoned for his two errors on one play by launching a three-run homer and RBI triple. Daniel Johnson added a solo shot in the ninth inning for the Indians, who announced earlier on Friday that the team will be known as the Guardians effective at the end of the 2021 season.

The late uprising made a winner of Matt Wisler (3-3), who allowed one run on two hits and struck out four in two innings.

The Rays took advantage of some shoddy defense by the Indians to score three runs on one play in the second inning.

Arozarena’s single to center plated Yandy Diaz, however a throw from the outfield eluded third baseman Ramirez to allow Franco to score as well. Ramirez’s throw home escaped catcher Austin Hedges, permitting Arozarena to scamper home and give Tampa Bay a 3-0 lead.

Cruz, who was acquired by the Rays in a four-player trade with the Minnesota Twins on Thursday, homered to lead off the third inning. The seven-time All-Star deposited a 1-1 fastball from Zach Plesac over the wall in right field for his 20th homer of the season.

Cleveland answered in the third inning as Ramirez sent a 1-1 cutter from Josh Fleming into the bleachers in left field. The homer was Ramirez’s team-leading 20th of the season and second in July.

Ramirez wasn’t done, however, as his triple off to right field plated Cesar Hernandez to forge a tie at 4 in the seventh inning.

–Field Level Media