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Rays vs. Rockies, game 1: Bullpen holds, bats comcome through in extras

Matt Moore escapes on a live night, but the Rays bullpen and offense bail him out.

Jennings knocked in two insurance runs in the tenth inning.
Jennings knocked in two insurance runs in the tenth inning.

So this is what it's like to play in Colorado. There were four home runs hit (by Nolan Arenado, Michael Cuddyer, Desmond Jennings, and Kelly Johnson). On none of them was I sure off the bat that the ball was gone. But neither were any of them lucky, short blasts. And then there were other fly balls that looked well hit, and seemed to be carrying, but stayed in. The outfield is huge, and for the uninitiated fan, confusing. We like to make fun of the Fenway crowd for cheering warning track flyouts. I completely excuse such embarrassing behavior from the Coors Field faithful.

Matt Moore did not have a very good game. His command was iffy all night, batters weren't missing his fastball, and he seemed to struggle with locating his curve maybe on account of the thin air. He pitched five innings and walked four batters while only striking out three. Jeff Francis gave up fewer hits and only walked one Tampa Bay batter, but he too exited after the fifth inning, with the score tied at four.

In the bottom of the eighth inning, the Rockies mounted a serious threat against Jake McGee. After a strikeout to start the inning, two singles into center field gave Colorado first and third with one out, and with the pitcher's spot up, Troy Tulowitzki was sent in to pinch hit. Since Eric Young had already taken the place of Dexter Fowler (who may have tweaked something in a slight collision with Sean Rodriguez at first base when S-Rod was having difficulty finding the bag) in the leadoff spot, Joe Maddon had an easy choice to intentionally walk Tulo and let McGee overmatch Young for the strikeout. Maddon then brought in Brandon Gomes to strike out Jordan Pacheco and escape the bases loaded jam. The Rays didn't score, and Kyle Farnsworth handled the ninth inning to send the game into extras.

Ben Zobrist lead off the inning with a low liner past third base (against the shift) for a double. For a brief moment I thought about bunting him over to third, but of course, that's silly. "You don't ask Evan Longoria to bunt," I told myself, and before I could even finish the mental sentence, he had singled Zobrist home. Kelly Johnson connected for a homer to stretch the lead to three and bring on Fernando Rodney (who Maddon had been saving, probably sub-optimally).

Rodney walked the leadoff batter before getting two outs (one a fielder's choice, one a strikeout) to bring Reid Brignac up to pinch hit. Of course Brignac jumped all over a high fastball for a hard lined single to bring the tying run to the plate in the form of Eric Young. Rodney struck him out looking in a harried full count. (I will say, Brignac's swing looked nice. Why did we get rid of him again? I bet he could be an average hitting shortstop.)

I don't get a chance to watch the Rockies very often, so things that everybody already knows can startle me. Here are a couple:

  • Carlos Gonzalez's bat is fast. BA was pointing out in his first at bat that he was way out in front of Matt Moore's 93 mph fastball, basically making it look like a changeup. At all times, he waits back on the ball and then explodes. It's scary to watch. Don't let a Cano fan say any differently, Cargo has better bat speed than anyone in the American League.
  • Michael Cuddyer is a not a very good fielder. Sometimes hits that should have been outs fell in front of him because he was standing way out on the warning track. Sometimes balls got over his head, and one time, he ran down a ball back to the wall and then watched it pop out of his glove.
David Price will face Jon Garland tomorrow at 8:10.