Does it count as a win for a manager even if they get ejected midway through the game? I imagine the answer for this is "Yes" -- as who gets that technical on managerial wins? -- and in that case, Joe Maddon has just won his 600th game as a manager. And after the previous two games, it was a very, very welcome sight.
Coming into the season, who would have guessed that the Rays biggest struggle would be with their pitching staff? The offense has always been the Rays' weak spot, and even with the Shields/Davis trade, it seemed likely that the Rays would continue to have a dominant bullpen and rotation. The offense, though? Ugh, watch out - that could get ugly.
But as the Rays showed tonight, their offense has actually been performing quite well, thank you very much. They stormed out to an early 4-2 lead over the first two innings tonight, knocking starter Ricky Romero out of the game after only recording one out. They proceeded to batter Edgar Gonzalez around a good bit, racking up a total of eight baserunners and five runs over 4.2 innings pitched, and they kept the offensive pressure on in the later innings as well. Kelly Johnson and Evan Longoria led the way with three hits each on the night -- including a homer and double each -- but everyone (except Sam Fuld) got into the action with at least one hit.
Meanwhile, the Rays continued to receive sketchy and suspicious pitching performances. Matt Moore may have finished the night with a "W", but his pitching was far from crisp. He wasn't hitting his spots all night, and he was racked up a high pitch count each inning. Moore ended up walking four batters and allowing six hits in only five innings, and his swing-and-miss stuff just wasn't there tonight. His velocity was down overall, only averaging 93 MPH with his fastballs, and he only generated six whiffs over the entire night (three on fastballs, three on off-speed). In short, it was a disappointing process, but the end result at least ended happily.
After having the bullpen blow the past two games for the Rays, I was quite nervous on who Davey Martinez would put in the game after Moore left, but those fears ended up being misplaced. Davey used both Jamey Wright and Cesar Ramos to work the final four innings, and they got the job done in admirable fashion. Wright allowed a handful of runs during his outing, but he managed to avoid allowing any major damage. And Ramos was quite effective, allowing only one hit during his 2.1 innings of work.
It was a strange feeling, watching Wright and Ramos actually close out the gain and retain the lead for the Rays. Considering dominant relievers like Jame McGee and Fernando Rodney haven't been able to get the job done for the Rays recently, it's good to know that there are at least a few relievers who are still effective out there.
- Joe Maddon was ejected from the game for arguing a missed call by the umps. You can find a GIF of the blown call here, and Maddon's reaction here (thanks, Ken Grants!). I will say this: that was some stellar acting.
- James Loney entered today's game hitting .385, and he was a handful of at bats away from qualifying for the batting title. He went 2-5 while his other competitor, Miguel Cabrera, went 1-4 during his game, so Loney is officially the AL batting leader. Obviously it's still early in the season, but did anyone see that coming? I doubt it.
- Web gem alert! I could have sworn Jeter trademarked that throw, so Brett Lawrie might owe him a bit after tonight.
- So depressing, but maybe also a reason to hope?