Back to Four.
The Rays came into this game looking to right the ship and get one back against the WTF Orioles, but the old "Great Pitching, Not Enough Offense" story line played out again today. The Orioles continued their trend of winning extra-innings and one-run games, and the Rays offense continued to waste inning-after-inning of good pitching.
I'm not going to give you 1,000 words of doom-and-gloom--but, only because I don't have the time. This game took almost five-and-a-half hours to play and I have a dinner to attend(fancy, right?), so you'll have to spew the vitriol (may contain up to 10% ethanol) in the comments.
I will give you some bright spots cherry-picked from my notes, however.
There was much discussion after yesterday's game about Maddon's managerial decisions. A few of the points of interest were Maddon not pinch hitting for Ben Francisco with a lefty against righty-killa Darren O'Day. The second was not using Fernando Rodney in the bottom of the ninth. Those very same scenerios played out today and he reversed his positions. What say you, DRBers, are you pleased, or is Maddon a flip-flopper?
Evan Longoria started the game at DH, but entered the game defensively in the bottom of the ninth. He handled all three outs that inning in increasing difficulty: A solid grounder, a lined shot, and a bare-handed pick-up on a slow roller to end the inning. Of course, by entering the game, the DH disappeared and the Rays played NL baseball for the next five innings.
In case you were wondering, the five-man infield still works: In the thirteenth inning, Chris Archer allowed a leadoff walk to Endy Chavez. Manny Machado laid down the sac bunt to move him over, but Archer made a short toss to first that Elliot Johnson couldn't hold onto and both runners were safe. Mark Reynolds attempted a bunt, then quickly remembered he was Mark Reynolds and decided to swing away. He'd smack a Doug Fister of a hit into shallow right that just nicked off EJ's glove that loaded the bases with no outs.
Then came five-man infield. Maddon dusted off Louisiana Lightning Reid Brignac and sent him in for Sam Fuld. The Rays played Briggy up the middle in lieu of a left fielder. Archer coaxed a 4-2 groundout off the bat of Robert Andino, then K'd Matt Weiters and Nate McLouth to escape the jam.
Yes, Archer got a bit winded in the fourteenth and allowed a walk, a groundball with eyes, and a game-winning soft-liner to left to Manny Machado, but he looked OK in his 3.2 innings of work and his first ever relief appearance in the Bigs. The control was a bit wonky as we've heard from his Minor League numbers, but haven't seen to much in his three MLB starts so far, but he's got some legit 'put away' stuff as evidenced by that thirteenth inning.
Matt Joyce couldn't quite make a diving catch to save the game in the fourteenth. Sam Fuld probably makes the play, but then there couldn't have been the five-man infield. "What if's" abound.
The Rays head to New York where David Price looks to make his first start after experiencing some shoulder soreness last week. The good thing is, he's facing C.C. Sabathia. Is that really a good thing? I don't know, but I'm sure one of you stat-guys can dig something up for me. What's his OPSBI-against look like?