Try as I might, there are very few positive things to take from the game today. Our offense was lack-luster, our pitching was uninspiring, we were almost no-hit, and we did it all on national television. Lovely. In an effort to not be totally a downer, here are all the positive things to take away from today:
- The Rays drew just under 30,000 people to the game today, which is only 3,000 less than what the Mets drew at Citi Field. How's that new stadium treating you, Mets fans? (Yes, I know they're facing the Nationals, but shh!)
- Carl Crawford walked, giving him four walks in five games. After walking a career-high 51 times last season, has Crawford finally begun to develop his batting eye?
- Balfour didn't give up a hit or walk anyone. (Of course, he didn't strike anyone out or record any swinging strikes, but it's something.)
- Pat Burrell only struck out once and he didn't ground into any double-plays.
- Dioner Navarro pinch-hit for Evan Longoria in the ninth inning. It's about darn time Maddon realized this was a good move; hopefully we'll see Navarro hitting for Longoria more going forward.
- Wade Davis' line through three innings: 3 IP, 2 H, 0 ER, 1 BB, 3 K.
Aaaand...that's all she wrote. Davis finished up the day after six innings, but his final line looked much less impressive: 6 IP, 7 H, 4 ER, 4 BB, 3 K, 1 HR. After holding the Yankees in control through the first third of the game, why did Davis get rocked later on? Let's see, shall we?
From looking through the game data available on BrooksBaseball.net, it seems as though Davis' loss of dominance came down to two things: fatigue and pitch selection. Davis started off the game throwing fastballs that touched 94-95 MPH, but that faded to 90-92 after around 60 pitches. This was his first start of the season, though, and so I feel like this loss in velocity isn't anything to worry about (just like with Shields) and should be something that gets better as the season progresses.
The loss of velocity may not have been that big an issue if Davis had been throwing another effective pitch besides his fastball. Davis threw a total of 105 pitches on the day, the majority of which of which were fastballs (74.2%). Davis also threw his change-up (7.6%), slider (7.6%), and curveball (10.4%) today, which isn't necessarily a bad thing in and of itself; those are almost exactly the same breakdowns that Davis posted last season during his stint in the majors. The problem was, Davis was only fooling batters with his fastball. He posted a sub-par 4.7% Swinging-Strike Percentage overall, with all of those swinging strikes coming on his fastball. Also, I believe almost all of those swinging strikes happened within the first three innings of the game.
In other words, Davis managed to fool the Yankee batters decently one time through the line-up, but as their line-up turned over for the second and third time, Davis didn't have the secondary pitches to continue to fool their hitters. He grew tired, lost velocity, started throwing more balls and falling behind in counts, and got hit hard. Pitching against C.C. Sabathia is never an easy assignment and given that he was facing the most loaded line-up in all of baseball, I'm okay with Davis' performance today. He should get better as the season goes along and regardless, he did shut down the Yankees for three innings; he must have good stuff to do that.
Here's a graph of Davis' performance broken down by pitch-type. As you can see, Davis had a tough time locating his change-up and slider, rarely getting those over for strikes even when he did throw them. With only his fastball and curveball reliably landing for strikes, the Yankees didn't have to guess too hard about what they were going to see:
I have nothing to say about our offense today. I hate getting no-hit, even against a great pitcher like Sabathia.
Going into the series I figured this was the game the Rays had the worst chance of winning, so at least they won yesterday. Tomorrow's match-up of Shields and Burnett should make for a good match-up, and it gives us a much better chance of winning than today.