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The masthead wasn't available to cover yesterday's 5-4 loss to the Blue Jays, which featured a sharp performance by Chris Archer in relief -- pumping 98 mph in the strike zone over three innings. Our apologies.
To make up for it, allow me to invite you to Hatfield's Corner! Community commenter Nolen Bailey is reporting from Port Charlotte this weekend, with first hand observations on the Rays. - DR
I had the opportunity to take in Rays/O's down in chilly Port Charlotte earlier today. As a bonus, I was also able to meet famed DRB user and all around great guy, DaPriceIsRight.
I was eager to see Alex Cobb take the mound, as I see him as a key piece to the Rays' season. He did anything but disappoint, giving up only 1 hit over 3 innings while striking out 5. Cobb even struck out the side in the 2nd, completely baffling Trayvon Robinson and Travis Ishikawa with called third strikes.
After Cobb, Fernando Rodney gave us a brief appearance, quickly dispatching Flaherty and Pridie, sandwiched around a fun little duel with phenom Manny Machado. Rodney and Machado battled to a full count, until the archer completely froze him with an 81mph called third strike.
The fireworks show began in the 4th thanks to Brian Matusz. Yunel Escobar took him yard on a line drive to right, knocking in Papa Longo, and before I could finish my joyous tweet, Ryan Roberts launched a towering shot well over the left field wall.
Brandon Gomes pitched a relatively uneventful 5th, getting into a bit of trouble before striking out Xavier Avery to end the threat.
Bloated whale, Tommy Hunter, beached himself on the mound for the next couple of innings, quickly giving up a home run to Sean Rod before settling down.
A bearded Josh Lueke slid into the 6th inning and was not terribly impressive, giving up 3 hits and the O's only run. Of note that inning was Manny Machado's triple. Manny absolutely smoked Lueke's pitch to dead center, causing center fielder Sean Rodriguez to attempt his best wide receiver impression. It turns out, poor SeanRod chose the right sport. (Editorial note: he dove into the centerfield wall) While Roddy was performing circus antics in center, Machado was kind enough to stop at third base instead of heading home for an inside-the-parker.
To my delight, new toy Wil Myers came to the plate in the 7th. While I was in the midst of attempting to justify to Mrs. Hatfield why the Rays may choose to have Wil begin the season in Durham to work on things like strikeouts, he did exactly that. Sound the alarms. He's a bust.
There wasn't much else of interest. Escobar was the offensive star of the game, going 2 for 3 with a 2 run homer while flashing some beautiful glovework. In typical Zobrist fashion, Ben quietly went 2 for 3 himself on the day.
Cobb was solid for 3 innings. It felt like he had really settled into a groove by the time his work was done. I try not to draw too many conclusions from spring training, but it was nice to see.
I'm looking forward to tomorrow's game against the Twins.