You can't win them all.
Although it was starting to seem like it.
The Rays' winning streak would be snapped at nine today, on the back of an obscenely-pimped David Ortiz three-run homer. I'll tell you what... for a game that had all of its runs scored in one inning, this one still managed to be as edge-of-your-seat as they come. Papi and a walk-off tease in the ninth had a lot to do with that.
Allen Webster was not sharp today in his debut. He struggled to find the plate for a good portion of his outing, but was constantly forgiven by the Rays bats and a genuinely curious strike zone. I'm not one to mention umpiring too often, but there were some calls low and outside on righties that I just can't for the life of me figure out. Maybe someone who knows how to internet can post some of those, so we can all laugh in disbelief.
While Webster struggled early, Archer looked sharp until the third. That's when things got interesting. Archer could not find his zone, walking Daniel Nava. Dustin Pedroia followed that up with a hard bouncer to third that a charging Longo was unable to barehand successfully. Ortiz would step to the plate with two on and one out. Archer handled Papi like a pro in the first, striking him out swinging on an 88 mph change-up and receiving a staredown from Ortiz while he walked back to the dugout. (How DARE someone get him out!) He would go back to that formula this at bat to disastrous results. Ortiz hit an enormous three-run shot into the Tropicana Field stands that he admired longingly, tossing his bat in memorable fashion and taking over 30 seconds to trot around the bases. It's these type of actions that make Ortiz seem like such a clown when he takes to the media to complain about other players not obeying silly "unwritten rules". Chris Archer had some things to say about it in his interview after the game that are worth tracking down.
I'll say this. I think, at this point, it is undeniable that David Ortiz is the biggest villain in the game. Maybe that's intentional on his part. I'm not sure. I am sure, though, that he typifies everything that anyone with a soul hates about the Red Sox and their fans. I am endlessly pleased that I will never have to root for or defend a person like that, and I consider myself a better human being than those that do. End rant.
The Rays would get on the board in the bottom of the third. Curt Casali walked his way on, and Kevin Kiermaier hit a hole in Webster's shin with a hard liner back at him. Desmond Jennings would knock them both in with an enormously hard hit double to center field. It looked like the Rays were just getting started, but alas... that would be all. Not another cleat would touch the plate for either team the rest of the game.
Archer gave us six solid innings today, struggling with command a bit here and there but ultimately only walking two and hitting Mike Carp with a pitch. The Ortiz homer would be his lone painful mistake.
Archer's final line: 6.0 IP 6H 3R 3ER 2BB 3SO 1HR
Ramos, Yates and Beliveau would pitch in relief, the latter two quite effectively.
It felt like one of those walk-off games going into the bottom of the 9th, especially when Yunel Escobar managed to get himself on base with three chances for Rays batters to send us all home happy. SeanRod took the first shot, but fell short. There was one Uehara pitch in there that I'm betting he wishes he could have back. I jumped off my couch, but Sean just fouled it off. Casali was our next chance, but his at bat was a disaster. He looked at two beautiful pitches and ended up walking back to the dugout with his bat still on his shoulder. Kevin Kiermaier has been THE man since his call-up, but there would be no magic in him today either as he struck out to end the game and the streak.
Matt Joyce and Evan Longoria struggled mightily at the plate today. 0-3 for Joyce with two K's and a miserable GIDP on a 3-0 pitch before being pulled. He would leave a total of four men on base today. Ouch. Longo wouldn't let him suffer alone though, as he put up an 0-4 day with 2 K's of his own. Evan would leave two on base. That was a back to back black hole in the third and fourth spots today, that combined to leave six of their teammates on base. That's not ideal.
I was pleased to see the Rays not retaliate for Ortiz's antics today. If we're really doing this thing, we can't have guys suspended or injured and we do not want a bullseye on the heads of our best players. The best retaliation is to play in October while Ortiz sits at home counting his rings and syringes.
Oh well. It's awfully hard to complain about winning a series at home to the defending champs and taking a W in 9 of the last 10 games. That's impressive stuff, and worth celebrating.
There's another game tomorrow, and a chance to start a new streak.