At times, it may seem that relinquished seven run leads matter. They don't. It may seem that badly blown calls at home plate matter. They don't, even when they cost your team in a run. It may seem that questionable bullpen management by your bench coach (after your manager has been ejected for arguing a badly blown call at home plate) that results in relinquished leads the day after relinquished seven run leads matter. They don't.
In the bottom of the second inning, with two runners on, Desmond Jennings hit a line drive back at J.A. Happ. Long before he had a chance to react, the ball hit Happ on or near the left ear, sending him to the ground clutching at his head. Happ lay there with blood pouring from his ear while two runs scored and Jennings advanced to third base (the ball had ricocheted far into foul territory) before play was stopped. The training staff rushed to the mound and attended to Happ for a good seven or eight minutes while the players and fans watched in stunned silence, before strapping him securely into a stretcher and taking him direct to the hospital.
To say that I hope Happ is okay is nonsensical. Clearly he is not. I hope he is eventually able to heal fully. In the meantime, there was still a baseball game played. It feels wrong to write a recap, yet that's what I'm going to do. Depriving Tampa Bay of knowledge of the game's details will not ease Happ's pain. Here goes.
The Jays got on the board first when a Roberto Hernandez thigh-high front door sinker leaked back over the plate. Adam Lind connected for a true line drive homer. Other than that one hiccup, Roberto Hernandez was nails. He threw 102 pitches and scattered five hits over six innings while walking one batter and striking out seven. He leaned heavily on his sinker (44 pitches, five whiffs) and his changeup (36 pitches, six whiffs), and both looked sharp.
All of the Rays' runs came in the bottom of the second inning. Sean Rodriguez lead off with a double, and James Loney singled up the middle to put runners at the corners. Jose Molina laid a bunt down the first base line, but it was a bit too hard and Edwin Encarnacion was able to charge and throw home. J.P. Arrencibia received the throw with plenty of time to get down a tag, but he was just a step in front of the bag. Rodriguez pulled off a beautiful slide where he ran on the outside edge of the baseline and dove to evade the tag, reaching back with his left hand to brush the back corner of the plate. Marty Foster said that Rodriguez had never touched the bag. Replays clearly showed that he had. Skid marks in the dirt, which S-Rod pointed to, clearly showed that he had. But Foster thought he had seen him miss, and the eventual result was Maddon being tossed.
Yunel Escobar singled before Jennings hit his line drive at Happ that scored two runs. Ryan Roberts singled in another.
- In the first inning, Hernandez got Jose Bautista to swing through an inside sinker. He then threw another sinker also inside, but down. Bautista timed it up perfectly, pulled his hands through, and bounced it off the top of the wall for a double. It was a great demonstration of just how dangerous a hitter Bautista is. The sinker down and in is a really good pitch for Hernandez, but anything that Bautista has the measure of he can hit out of the park. There are no safe places to pitch Bautista, but inside with the same pitch you've just thrown him inside is especially unsafe.
- In the bottom of the second inning, Ben Zobrist perfectly executed the "Baltimore chop," sending a very high bouncer over the pitcher and beating out the throw from a charging Brett Lawrie.
- In the third inning, with an 0-1 count, Melky Cabrera tried to check his swing. He could not, and then he dropped his bat and fell backward practically into Molina's lap. Cabrera is a pretty good baseball player, but if this career stops working out for him, he maybe should try a second one in physical comedy. The man has skills.