Danny Valencia, Oakland Athletics power past Tampa Bay Rays 7-6
Danny Valencia (middle) celebrates after his go-ahead home run in the ninth inning. Photo: Bill Howard/VAVEL USA

It was a wild one at Tropicana Field, but the Oakland Athletics were able to come out with the victory over the Tampa Bay Rays by a final score of 7-6. Danny Valencia was tremendous, as he hit three home runs, including a clutch one in the ninth. John Axford got his third win of the year for the Athletics, Steve Geltz got his second loss of the season while Ryan Madson picked up his tenth save of the season. Oakland improved to 16-22 while the Rays now fall to 16-19. 

Guyer, Rays get off to fast start

Matt Moore got the start today for Tampa Bay, looking to improve off of his rough beginning to May. After finishing April with a respectable 3.66 ERA, Moore lasted just 4.1 innings against the Los Angeles Dodgers allowing seven runs, and lasted just 4.2 innings in his last start but allowed just two runs. The 2013 all-star's ERA raised all the way up to 4.83. 

Moore, however, would not get the start he was looking for. After retiring the first two hitters, the 26-year-old allowed a bomb to Danny Valencia on a 3-2 changeup. The home run was Valencia's third of the year and gave the Athletics a quick 1-0 lead. 

Brad Miller attempts a diving play off a Billy Butler ground ball. Photo: Bill Howard/ VAVEL USA
Brad Miller attempts a diving play off a Billy Butler ground ball. Photo: Bill Howard/ VAVEL USA

However, it would not take the Rays long to answer back. Brandon Guyer led off the first inning against Sonny Gray, and quickly greeted him with a home run. Gray continues his surprise struggles, as he now has a 5.84 ERA after an incredible 2015 season. Gray was predicted to become one of the greatest young pitchers this season in baseball after his 2.73 ERA last season but has struggled with his command so far in 2016. 

In the next inning, the poor Athletics defense would cost the right-hander. Gray was set to get out of the inning with a routine groundball from Hank Conger to second baseman Tyler Ladendorf, but he misplayed it,and allowed Conger to reach. This brought up Guyer, who homered off Gray his last appearance, and would do more of the same in the second. Guyer took Gray deep once again and extended the Rays lead to 4-1. Oakland's defense continues to hurt them, as their 27 errors are the most in the American League

Brandon Guyer (5) rounds the bases after hitting his second home run of the game in the second inning. Photo: Bill Howard/VAVEL USA
Brandon Guyer (5) rounds the bases after hitting his second home run of the game in the second inning. Photo: Bill Howard/VAVEL USA

Both offenses were settled down until the fourth, but Brandon Guyer would come through for the Rays once again. Steve Pearce reached to begin the inning on a dropped third strike that was ruled as a wild pitch, then Kevin Kiermaier would follow with a double that advanced Pearce to third. This brought up Guyer with an out after Conger was set down on a popup, and he delivered with a sacrifice fly that brought home Pearce. The run extended Tampa Bay's lead to 5-1 on a close play at the plate. 

Steve Pearce (left) slides under Stephen Vogt's tag to score the Rays' fifth run of the day. Photo: Bill Howard/VAVEL USA
Steve Pearce slides under Stephen Vogt's tag to score the Rays' fifth run of the day. Photo: Bill Howard/VAVEL USA

Both teams use power surge in middle innings

After the Rays scored their fifth run of the day in the fourth, the Athletics would quickly answer back in the fifth. Yonder Alonso would open up the inning with a single, and advanced to second on a groundout from Ladendorf. This brought up Coco Crisp, and the switch-hitter would deliver with a single to score Alonso from second. Danny Valencia came up two hitters later with Crisp still on base, and would crush an 0-2 fastball that sailed well over the left field fence, and it reduced the Rays' lead to 5-4. Moore would exit after the fifth inning allowing seven hits, four runs, one walk, two home runs, and struck out three. 

However, the Rays would answer right back with a home run of their own. Evan Longoria, who has not had an ideal start for his standards, would deposit the first pitch in the fifth inning over the left field wall for a solo home run. It was "Longo's" seventh of the season, and it brought the Rays lead up to 6-4. Gray would exit in the sixth inning, going 5.2 innings allowing six hits, six runs, three earned runs, two walks, three home runs, and struck out four. 

Erasmo Ramirez came on to pitch the sixth inning for the Rays and set down the Athletics in order on just nine pitches. Manager Kevin Cash elected that Ramirez would come out to pitch the seventh, but it would backfire. After he retired Alonso to open up the inning, Chris Coghlan would come off the bench to pinch hit for Ladendorf, and would hit his fifth home run of the year.

Late game drama

In the same inning, with the score now 6-5 Rays, Crisp would follow with a double, and would later advance to third with two outs off of a wild pitch. This brought up Valencia yet again, with two home runs already in his belt and the tying run 90 feet away. Ramirez, though, would come up huge, and would rebound from a 2-1 count to set down Valencia on strikes. 

Oakland would threat yet again in the eighth with two baserunners, but Alex Colome would gear up and strike out two hitters, maintaining the 6-5 lead. 

After John Axford retired the Rays in order in the eighth, the Athletics came up to bat in the ninth inning trailing by just a run with Xavier Cedeno attempting to secure his first save of the season. Cedeno retired the first two hitters he saw quickly and had two strikes on Billy Burns. Burns, however, would lace a double to left field bringing up Valencia. 

Valencia already had two home runs on the day, and Cash decided to take out the left-hander Cedeno to bring in right-hander Steve Geltz. Valencia was 0-3 against Geltz in his career and already took the left-hander Moore deep in the first. It seemed like a logical decision, but Valencia would greet the New York native quickly and effectively. The third baseman wasted no time and hit a go-ahead home run to give the Athletics a 7-6 lead. With his three home runs, Valencia finished the game with more home runs (3) than he did all season entering the game (2). Geltz would strike out the next batter Khris Davis, but the damage was certainly done. 

Attempting to rally in the ninth, the Rays were set down 1-2-3. It was surely a crushing defeat, and it will take some time to forget about this wild game. 

Up Next

After taking two games out of three in Tampa Bay, the Athletics will travel home for a three-game series with the Texas RangersSean Manaea (0-1, 11.37 ERA) will look to turn around his dismal start to his season against Derek Holland (3-2, 6.09 ERA). 

The Rays will hit the road as they travel to Toronto for a three-game series with the Toronto Blue JaysDrew Smyly (1-4, 3.63 ERA) will get the start against J.A. Happ (5-0, 2.05 ERA).