WASHINGTON, DC - JUNE 21: Joel Peralta #62 of the Tampa Bay Rays throughs a pitch against the Washington Nationals at Nationals Park on June 21, 2012 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Patrick McDermott/Getty Images)
Shiner Ruby Redbird is a fantastic summer beer. The combination of Munich malt, grapefruit, and ginger make it a thoroughly refreshing beverage. You can't do much better on an 85 degree night.
I started the night with a six pack, but was only planning on having two or three. You can only get this stuff in Texas, so it's not like I can just go to the store and pick up some more. Also, my fiancée was given a case of this wonderful brew as a belated birthday present and this was the last sixer, so I wanted to leave her some. I mean, I'm not a bad guy.
Spoiler Alert: I'm a bad guy. I finished it. I even had some other beer in the fridge: some Natty light left over from a recent tubing excursion, but with the bland, spiritless baseball the Rays were playing tonight, I couldn't subject my taste buds to the same fate.
This game wasn't a blow out. 5-2 is not an unreasonable score to lose a game. The Nationals are a pretty decent team. Gio Gonzalez is a good pitcher having a great year. Let's face it, the Nats are a better team than the Rays right now.
So why did I have to drink all my lady's beer tonight?
Find out after the jump...
This game was nine hours long.
It wasn't? Really? It sure felt like it. I'm all for a long, spirited match-up between contenders, but tonight's game was a 5-2 walk-a-thon that lasted three hours and 20ish minutes. There were a few yanked doubles down the line thanks to Danny Espinosa and Ben Zobrist, but the feeling of the game was more about Matt Moore continuing the Rays trend of not being able to get the third out, and the Rays hitters bailing out an uncharacteristically wild Gio Gonzalez.
Gonzalez was not his sharpest tonight. He was yanking his fastball away from his arm-side (he's a lefty, if you were unaware) and couldn't get his usually dominant curve to do anything but spin most of the time. He consistently spun it out high on his arm-side in the early innings and just could not get it over the plate. The Rays hitters waxed and waned between patient and aggressive: Carlos Pena would walk on four pitches in the first inning, then B.J. Upton would pop out on the very next pitch.
For an example of Matt Moore's night, let's look at the second inning. After getting the first two outs, Moore walked Tyler Moore (no relation) then allowed a single to
Dr. Charles Xavier Nady. Next, he got Jesus Flores to hit a weak grounder to third, but Drew Sutton couldn't get a handle on the ball and and everyone was safe. Moore quickly K'd Gio Gonzalez to end the inning without any damage(thanks, NL baseball!), but he ended up throwing 31 pitches. At least he would get to take a breather in the dugout... except the next half inning only lasted five pitches.
It wasn't just about runs and errors.
That five-pitch inning is just one of the many 'mental errors' the Rays made tonight. Hey, you get a good pitch and you take your shot, I get it, but you also have to be cognizant of the fact that your pitcher has just thrown 31 pitches on a hot night and might need a breather. Well, those five pitches didn't help Moore as he promptly walked the first two hitters he faced in the third. He'd come back and K Ryan Zimmerman--who he made look foolish all night--and then got Michael Morse to fly softly to Upton in center. Upton was charging in and had quite the head of steam, but didn't seem to realize he should be throwing out Espinosa who was tagging at third. Upton took three gliding steps then threw on the run and Espinosa beat the throw by a few steps. A strong throw gets him by a mile. Maybe Upton makes a bad throw, and Espinosa scores anyway, but the non-realization/attempt is what's going to chap Rays fans' behinds.
Right after that, Ian Desmond would single to center to score Bryce Harper. Upton tossed the ball to Zobrist who tossed it to Moore. That's all well and good, but no one thought to call 'time' and end the play and Desmond scampered into second with no one the wiser. No, he wouldn't score, but it was this kind of mental absenteeism that defined the Rays play tonight. Moore finished the night with a decent line despite the tomfoolery: 5 IP, 2ER, 3H, 4BB, and 6K in 93 pitches (14 swinging), but...
Of all the pitchers to screw the pooch...
It had to be Joel Peralta, didn't it? After retiring the first two batters in the sixth inning Peralta allowed a double to Flores, an intentional walk to pinch-hitter Adam LaRoche, and another down-the-line double to Espinosa that plated both base runners. Peralta's been worked a bunch recently, and is facing an eight game suspension, combine that with the "will of the baseball gods" (h/t Nats announcers) and you can see how something like this might happen. I'm just peeved that this is going to keep the pine tar discussion alive and well for a bit longer. Idiot blog writers are going to make puns in their headlines that would make Jeremy Lin cringe. I know it was wishful thinking, but I was really hoping Peralta would pitch well this series, then take his suspension like a man and come back like gangbusters. Call me crazy.
Now pinch-hitting: Master Burrito Ambassador Will Rhymes
With Gio Gonzalez out of the game after six innings, the Rays offense had a chance to do some damage on the Nats bullpen. Desmond Jennings led off with a walk against Slammin' Craig Stammen. He promptly stole second, but Pena and Upton both popped out to short. Ben Zobrist and Hideki Matsui would draw walks to load the bases, but with righty Ryan Mattheus coming in from the pen, Joe Maddon opted to pull Sean Rodriguez in favor of Will Rhymes.
Weren't we just complaining about how the Rays had no righy bats? They had all the lefties in the world, that wasn't a problem. Blink your eyes and all of a sudden, Matt Joyce is out with a back problem. He joins Luke Scott who, of course, had been on the DL for a bit. Someone needs to talk to Jim Hickey and make sure he's not horsing around like he was with Grant Balfour.
Well, Rhymes K'd on a "get me over" breaking pitch to end the inning and any possibility of a Rays threat. Consider this last section to be just a lamentation of the Rays injury woes. Woe are the Rays!
I think I just sprained my finger. It might have been the 1200 words of angry typing, or it might have been my fiancee punishing me for drinking her beer. Woe is me.
Tomorrow is another day.