August 11, 2023, will go down in history as the day Myles Straw broke his home run drought.
With one out in the eighth inning and Jason Adam on the mound, Straw took a first-pitch four-seam fastball and deposited it into the stands in left field, before taking his first home run trot around the bases since August 26, 2021 — a stretch of 1,160 homer-less plate appearances.
If you can believe it, Straw’s home run was not even the most bizarre aspect of the Cleveland Guardians’ 9-8 loss to the Tampa Bay Rays, in a game that saw the Guardians rally from a three-run deficit in the ninth inning only to lose on a walk-off Wander Franco solo home run.
Facing former teammate Aaron Civale, Cleveland took a 1-0 lead in the third inning on a two-out RBI single by Ramon Laureano. Unfortunately, that lead didn’t last long.
Xzavion Curry retired the first seven batters he faced before allowing a one-out single to Josh Lowe in the bottom of the third, at which points things started to unravel. After issuing a walk to Christian Bethancourt, Curry surrendered an RBI double to Yandy Diaz and then a two-run single to Franco, allowing Tampa Bay to tie the score and take a 3-1 lead in the span of four pitches.
The Guardians were able to battle back, first by cutting it to a one-run lead in the fourth inning thanks to a two-out RBI triple to deep center field by Steven Kwan. Curry held serve through the fifth inning, setting up a rally in the sixth. Rays reliever Jake Diekman opened the inning with back-to-back walks and Straw capitalized, tying the game on an RBI single to right field. Andres Gimenez then gave them a 4-3 lead an RBI single to center field.
Manager Terry Francona decided to tempt fate in the bottom of the sixth inning, sending Curry back out to face the meat of the Rays’ lineup for a third time. It didn’t go well, as Curry needed all of five pitches to give the lead back to Tampa Bay courtesy of a two-run homer by Isaac Peredes.
Daniel Norris took over for Curry and proceeded to strike out the side, though he wasn’t nearly as effective or as efficient in the seventh inning. Norris walked three of the first four batters he faced in the seventh to load the bases with one out. Francona did not seem inclined to remove Norris and it nearly worked out. Norris got Randy Arozarena to ground a double play ball to Gimenez, but the Gold Glove second baseman fumbled the ball. His costly error allowed two runs to score on the play. Norris then walked a fourth batter and finally got the hook,
Michael Kelly got the final two outs, but another run scored on a RBI groundout to give Tampa Bay an 8-4 lead entering the eighth inning, which was when Straw homered.
Things got weird in the ninth inning. The Rays brought in Pete Fairbanks to close it out, but he allowed the first three batters to reach, two from walks and one on a hit-by-pitch. Oscar Gonzalez struck out for the first out of the inning, bringing Brayan Rocchio to the plate. A wild pitch allowed a run to score, cutting the lead to 8-6, before Rocchio struck out. With Bo Naylor at the plate, another run scored on an another wild pitch, reducing the deficit to one run. After Naylor walked, Tampa Bay brought in Robert Stephenson from the bullpen to face Myles Straw, who watched the tying run cross the plate on the third wild pitch of the inning.
It was all for naught, as Nick Sandlin hung a slider to Franco to lead off the bottom of the ninth.