Today was one of those games where nothing went right and I really don't want to dwell on it. As such, we're going to go with some bullet points:
- Andy Sonnanstine. Sonny got hit hard again today, allowing eight hits and a homerun in his five innings of work. The third inning was particularly painful: Sonny allowed a single to Brian Roberts, a double to Nick Markakis, a single to Derrek Lee, and a double to Vladimir Guerrero before finally getting out of the inning. He was missing with his pitches and leaving cutters hanging dead over the middle of the plate, and batters were teeing up on him. He simply let way too many pitches catch too much of the plate, and he paid the price dearly.
- The sixth inning. Rob Delaney entered the game and proceeded to walk the bases loaded (although the second of those free passes was intentional, as Adam Jones stole second base). The walks were all well-earned by the O's hitters, as Delaney fought hard and made each at bat last seven pitches, but still...Delaney did walk the bases loaded.
And then Cesar Ramos came in to face J.J. Hardy, and Hardy promptly hit a fastball over the left-field wall for a homerun. This is why Ramos should be used primarily as a left-handed specialist; I'm still not exactly sure why Maddon felt it was a good idea to use him in that situation. Anyone have any ideas?
- The Rays' offense continues to be anemic at home. Matt Joyce, Elliot Johnson, and Casey Kotchman each had two hits today, but otherwise the Rays were all but silent at the plate. Jake Arrieta is a good enough pitcher, but you'd still hope that the Rays could do slightly more against him. Oh well, these games happen - let's just hope the offense picks it up with the Yanks in town.
- Andy Sonnanstine. I know this sounds bipolar of me, but there were some moments during today's game that we had glimpses of the old Sonny. He worked a great first inning, getting two groundball outs while working ahead of each batter, and he looked quite good during the fourth and fifth innings. During these good moments, Sonny was locating his pitches on the corners and getting ahead of hitters, and he was also getting batters to swing through his pitches. He generated 8 swinging strikes today (twice what Davis did yesterday, and in fewer pitches), he didn't walk anyone, and he managed to get through a full five innings.
After the third inning, I was ready to throw Andy to the wolves and call up Alex Cobb. I still think I'd prefer the Rays called up Alex Cobb, but Sonny looked good enough at times today to make me hesitate. Is there some chance the old Sonny is still in there, waiting to get back into a starting role before coming out? It seems highly unlikely, but you never know. But if the old Sonny is still there, we could always find out in Triple-A, yes?
- Elliot Johnson hit his first career homerun in the bottom of the third inning. It didn't just sneak over the wall either - it was a towering shot to right-field. Well done, Elliot.
- Matt Joyce hit a homerun against a left-handed pitcher - Mike Gonzalez, nonetheless. Sure, Gonzalez has a ridiculously high ERA this season and he struggled with injuries and his control last season, but he's still a darn good pitcher. He's got filthy stuff and still strikes out a high number of batters, so I'm taking this as a really nice sign. As far as I'm concerned, Joyce should be up there facing pitchers of both hands right now.
- I really like Brandon Gomes. He pitched two innings today and although he let up three hits, he struck out a batter and looked the best of any of the Rays relievers out there today. Maybe that's not the biggest endorsement, but it's something.
- Price and Shields are pitching the next two days, so hopefully this offense won't need to score 10 runs in order to win the game. I'm 100% certain this home hitting slump is random variation, but it's still annoying as heck.