So far we've recorded two podcasts, with a third being done tomorrow morning. In the Friday games preceding the recordings, the Rays have lost each time. Maybe we should stop the show all together...
In the first game of this mini home stand the Rays fell to the offensively challenged Mariners 4-3. The Mariners, a team they swept in Seattle a week ago, looked to be in charge all night. They pitched better, and definitely hit better. They deserved to win this game.
Wade Davis wasn't at his best tonight, or even his second best, but he did find a way to stick around through six innings. He did limit the damage to only three runs through his six innings when it could have been substantially worse, so that's something. Davis' fastball was pretty good on the night, throwing it 68 times for a strike percentage just north of 70%. A couple of pitches got away from him and resulted in home runs to Franklin Gutierrez and rookie catcher, Adam Moore. That's really all I have to say about Davis on the evening, because the offense deserves more attention.
The offense had struggled a bit on the road trip, and not much changed in this game. In the 4th inning the Rays had men on 1st and 2nd with no outs, and failed to even advance a runner to third. The next inning they loaded the bases with two outs and failed to produce a run. On the night, the 4-8 hitters went a combined 1-15 with 7ks. That one hit happened to be a 2-run home run from Evan Longoria in the 8th inning, which cut the lead down to one run. While that home run was nice, it ended up just being a giant tease as the Rays failed to capitalize on that momentum and tie the game up. I know that Pena, Upton and Burrell continued to struggle, but the hitter I was most frustrated with was Ben Zobrist. As I mentioned, the Rays loaded the bases in the 5th inning on a Carl Crawford walk. He walked on four pitches. Zobrist comes to the plate in a two run game and proceeds to swing at the first pitch, and promptly flied out to right. Fister was obviously tiring; there's no reason to not take at least a couple of pitches in that situation. In a less glaring situation, Zobrist again swung on the first pitch he saw in the 9th inning after Crawford had led off with a single. Again he flew out. I'm aware that Zobrist was thrown fast balls on each of those pitches, and fast balls aren't something he's accustomed to seeing this season, so I'm sure they looked very enticing. I'm still of the opinion that he should be leading off for this team, I just wish on this night that he displayed a touch more patience.
Some more thoughts on the game:
-Maddon should have lifted Pat Burrell in the 9th inning. I know he's hit RHP well this season, but that was a terrible match up for him. Hank Blalock wasn't in the Durham lineup tonight, and they were facing a RHP. Let the speculation begin. If Maddon knows something that we don't, and wanted to give Burrell a chance to hit a game tying home run in what may very likely be his last at bat as a Ray...well, that was nice of him.
-As Tommy noted on Twitter after the game, I'd be shocked if Burrell was still in a Rays uniform come Sunday.
-Joaquin Benoit was very impressive in his inning of work, cleaning up after Dan Wheeler. Benoit didn't strike anyone out, but he looked mighty good in retiring the Mariner's 1-2-3.
-Here I was on Twitter, singing the praises of Dan Wheeler's against right handed batters, and he goes and gives up a home run to Mike Sweeney(!)(?). That's not a typo. The man who kills right handed bats allowed a home run to one of the worst hitters in baseball. He should be fined in the clubhouse for that.