ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — Well, there are many ways you can tell the story of the Tampa Bay Rays’ latest walk-off victory, their third consecutive in such fashion.
You could focus on how left-hander David Price recovered after allowing five runs on four hits in the first inning to surrender only one hit over the next seven. You could focus on how Boston Red Sox right-hander Jake Peavy botched a golden chance to earn his first victory since April 25 by allowing five runs and eight hits over six innings, after he was spotted a 5-0 lead. You could focus on how Cole Figueroa, the man at the center of the Rays’ mosh pit to end Friday’s thriller, was the one to touch home plate in the 15th inning to clinch his team’s latest feel-good moment in a 6-5 thrill-ride over a slumping American League East rival at Tropicana Field.
There are many ways you can capture this five-hour, 16-minute whiplash of an afternoon turned night, a wild span that ended when left-hander Andrew Miller yacked a throw into center field following Desmond Jennings’ soft hit that allowed Figueroa to score from second.
But two names, sometimes maligned, deserve mention: Left-fielder Brandon Guyer and second baseman Logan Forsythe.
"Towards the end there," Guyer said, "it was getting kind of weird."
"It was huge," Forsythe said. "It was a confidence-booster."
Walkoffs are like five-star meals: They come in all different flavors, hardly any two the same. Saturday became Redemption Day for two bench players who provided a boost to make this sweet sensation last.
Guyer went 4 for 7 with two RBI. He played a key part in the 15th, when he tapped a bunt single to third base that resembled a rabbit eluding a fox. The Red Sox defense froze, completely fooled, as Figueroa advanced from first to second.
Forsythe, meanwhile, snapped his recent slumber with the lumber and went 3 for 5 with two RBI. The three hits were his most since he had three as a member of the San Diego Padres against the Pittsburgh Pirates on Aug. 21, 2013.
So what was more impressive? Recovering from a five-run hole or fighting for 15 innings to scratch and claw and steal a victory?
"I can’t say, because we’ve not been able to battle from five runs down," Rays manager Joe Maddon said. "That’s really impressive that we were able to do that. And again, it was a new cast of characters that helped us through the five runs down."
Certainly, Guyer and Forsythe are part of that cast. Saturday, the role players played to their scripts and more. They helped keep the Rays’ momentum alive, which remains fragile after the recent recovery.
First, Guyer. Remember the whispers about what he offered this team?
Don’t look now, but all of the sudden, his swing has more sting. Recently, Maddon said the young player was seeing the ball as well as anyone on the team. He has had at least one at-bat in each game since May 17. The results: six hits and two RBI.
"I knew eventually we would win it," Guyer said. "I knew we would come through. It shows the battle of the team and what we’re all about."
Want to talk fighting to show something? Finally, Forsythe made an impression.
He had underwhelmed since his addition as part of a seven-player trade with the Padres in January. The grisly numbers: A .179 average with two RBI in 33 games.
His work Saturday helped him crack .200. Now his average sits north of the Mendoza Line, at .202. More importantly, he has good vibes to draw from in future at-bats.
Sometimes, hitting is like swimming through calm water: It appears smooth and effortless. Other times, it’s like trying to push a 500-pound boulder across a parking lot.
"You never doubt it," Forsythe said of his approach. "You try to find things in your swing, your game. You know eventually it’s going to come. You just never know when. You’ve just got to keep working."
He and Guyer kept working through Saturday’s wild ride, the dramatic twists and all.