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Rays vs. White Sox, game 1 recap: Elimination

Logan Forsythe stars, Jeremy Hellickson does not.

Brian Blanco

I'm sorry, folks. I know this is tough to take, so I'll give it to you straight. The Rays will not make the playoffs this year. All of that mumbo-jumbo pseudo-probability about how unlikely it was for the Rays to complete the comeback that culminated in Game 162? Well, this is more improbable. It is not a dare, it is not potential, it is not temporary. For the 2014 Rays, the playoffs are now impossible.

But back to the realm of mere improbability. It was the Logan Forsythe show last night. In the first inning, with two outs, Evan Longoria watched an inside fastball go by for a strike, and then got the same pitch again, turning on it and lining it into left field for a single. Up next, Wil Myers grounded a pitch hard, but directly at the second baseman Marcus Semien, who was unable to handle it. The grounder ricocheted into center field, and both runners were able to advance, ending on second and third. That brought Forsythe to the plate. Forsythe worked the count full, fouled off a curve, and then lined an outside fastball into left-center for a two-run double.

Forsythe was back at the plate in the top of the fourth, and the at bat was eerily similar. This time, Forsythe found himself in a 2-2 count, fouled off two curves, and then got a fastball he could hit. This time it was over the heart of the plate, and Forsythe caught it well, flying over the left-center wall for his sixth home run of the year.

After the home run, the Rays bats continued to connect in the fourth, but they ran themselves out of the inning. Yunel Escobar singled, and then James Loney grounded up the middle for another base hit. Escobar tried for third, but he shuffled his feet just a little bit as he crossed second, and it may have cost him. Adam Eaton got off a good throw from center field, and gunned Escobar down at third. Now with one out, Jose Molina also singled to put runners at first and second, and Kevin Kiermaier hit the ball hard, but straight back to Jose Quintana. Molina was caught off the bag and easily doubled up. In the next inning, Jeremy Hellickson would make the Rays wish they had got more out of their opportunities.

He started off by walking the leadoff man, Semien, and then Eaton knocked an elevated outside fastball the other way over Ben Zobrists's head for a double. Against Alexi Ramirez, Hellickson tried to come inside, but left it over the plate, and saw it flipped into short right to let in one run. Now facing the intimidating Jose Abreu, Hellickson once more tried to come inside with a fastball, and this time he got the pitch where he meant to. Abreu was too good, however, and was able to pull his hands in and smack another run-scoring single up the middle. Conor Gillaspie grounded to first base for the first out, but Avisail Garcia grabbed hold of an absolutely grooved first-pitch curve and drove it just over the outstretched glove of Zobrist in the gap. I'm not sure Zobrist took the best route to the pitch, but it was hard hit, and it would have taken an amazing play to make the out.

Brandon Gomes cleaned up the inning, but the damage was done.

Some other notes:

  • Brian Anderson noted that before Garcia's go-ahead double, he had taken some very healthy swings against Hellickson's curve. He was critical of the Rays for going back to the curve in that crucial situation. I'm sort of with him, but in fairness to the game plan, that curve was thigh-high, center-of-the-plate.
  • The Rays nearly tied the game after an error in the seventh with some aggressive baserunning by Kiermaier, but a good recovery throw from Semien caught KK at home and ended the inning.