With games returning to The Green tonight, we turn back the clock to a scorcher of a Sunday, June 23rd. Playing the majority of our games as the sun sets over the hill and on the work week, Sundays at the RHMRBL provide a unique experience.
While no one complains about the often times beautiful weather it provides, the difficulties of a Sunday game are two-fold. 1) For many, weekends are sacred, leaving teams either shorthanded or ultimately out of position. 2) It's early. Guys may not have had enough coffee or may still be suffering the effects of Saturday's exploits. Both lead to some so-called Sunday Sloppiness. Errors (mental and otherwise), unlikely plays and mercies run rampant. That was indeed the case for both games this past Sunday, however the Baseball Gods did not play favourites in either game, providing plenty of intriuge, both eventually being decided by one run.
Before getting to the big blast that slammed the door on Sunday's first game, let us go back even further to the draft where Rays' captain Ryan Sourlis selected Michael Stringer in the 10th round. A knowledgeable ball player, Stringer looked to serve an important role as a swingman for the Rays, capable of pitching and hitting, which we'll get to shortly. However Sourlis also had his eyes on Pirates' prospect Andrew Robinson, and after much back and forth a deal for the two was finally consumated.
Now back to Sunday where these two teams matched up for the third time this season. Slopiness ruled right away as Darrin Pruss was pushed into an emergency opener role and a couple errors led to a Rays lead. On the other side of the field, Michael Tynan was his usual ironman self, working deep in the game battling through the heat, doing his best to keep the Pirates deep lineup off balance. However as the game progressed the story changed from slopiness to scrappiness as, especially through the energy of rookie Kevin Rye, the Rays fought their way to a four run lead in the bottom of the final inning. But as we all know, the outs get harder to come by as the game progresses and with the Pirates lineup turning over the pressure was on.
Skipping ahead in the action, Big Crusher Al Lunt stood on third as the go-ahead run with Stringer striding confidently to the plate. Winning a championship together in 2016 with the Athletics, the two Michaels stared each other down. Turns out it was Tynan who blinked first as Stringer scorched a ball over the head of Brian Herman in left field, one-hopping the fence to walk off the Rays and collect his first win in three years. Apparently Stringer saw this coming too as post-game he dawned a blue champions shirt and puffed away on a victory cigar.
For the Rays it was a heartbreaking fifth loss in a row, but the good guys they are, they still soaked in the Sunday, ultimately outlasting all but two of the Pirates in the parking lot. And thus is the beauty of Sunday baseball in the RHMRBL.