Some games you're just not meant to win.
After watching the first three innings of today's game, I was ready to throw in the towel and hand it to the Twins. Wade Davis did not have his best stuff, getting lit up for six hits and four runs in the first inning, and the Rays' offense continued to look pitiful. And so it continued going forward - Wade Davis managed to settle down and improve, making it through six innings, but he let up two more runs and was aided by some fine defensive plays behind him. The Rays' offense decided not to show up at all until the eighth inning, at which point the Rays scored six runs to tie the game, fueled by homeruns from BJ Upton and Jason Bartlett. It was a great effort, but fell short in the end; the Twins scored the winning run in the ninth inning when an infield popup by Jason Kubel (which would have been the third out) hit a catwalk, ricocheted, and fell for a single. Lady Luck wasn't smiling on the Rays today.
I don't want to dwell on the game that much because it just gets me depressed - these last two games were so close, so frustratingly close to wins - so I'm going to make this quick. Here are a couple observations/thoughts:
- As Sandy Kazmir noted during the game, Wade Davis's velocity seemed to be slightly slower in today's game than it typically is; actually, Davis seems to throw faster in night games than in day/afternoon games. Is there an underlying reason to this or is it something fluky with the Pitch f/x data? Tough to say, but I'm going to be keeping a closer eye on Davis's velocity going forward.
- Davis's biggest problem, though, was that he left waaaay too many curveballs over the middle of the plate. His curveball got hammered today and it's no surprise. Take a look at all the pink dots in this chart.; those can't be good.
- Got to give credit where credit is due: Randy Choate pitched two scoreless innings, striking out one batter and only allowing one hit. After having the bullpen worked so hard last night, Maddon needed someone to step up and eat a few innings; Choate one-upped him, keeping the Twins from jumping ahead any further.
- BJ Upton continued his hot streak, going two for four tonight with a homerun. He did strike out to end the eighth inning and you could actually see his disappointment for once; he tossed his bat and helmet away in disgust.
- I wasn't sure if I agreed with Maddon pinch-hitting for Matt Joyce with the bases loaded in the eighth inning, but then Jason Bartlett hit a grand slam and shut me up fast. Still....pinch hit for Matt Joyce? Say Bartlett is a .330 wOBA batter in that situation; if we take 10% off because he's pinch-hitting (and pinch-hitters typically under-perform their career averages), that makes him a .297 wOBA hitter in that situation. Is Joyce better or worse than that against lefties? That's up for debate, but I'd be willing to bet that it's at least close.
- With the loss today, the Rays went 8-3 in this homestand. I know losing the last two games stinks, but in the grand scheme of things, the Rays just split a series against the Twins and won one against the Yanks. Considering that Matthew Carruth believes the Twins are one of the best teams in the majors - they're an incredibly balanced team and have underperformed to date - I'm okay with that.