I find myself sitting here dumbfounded, wondering why Asdrubal Cabrera and Logan Forsythe hate Mother's Day. Why they would cause children all over the greater Tampa Bay area, sitting at home watching baseball with their mother (instead of at the Trop), to weep after witnessing the travesty that was today's 9th inning. Those poor, poor children saw a chain of events that would elicit a benching in a tee-ball league.
Let's relive it first, before circling back to the rest of the action. After breaking up a perfect game in the 5th, the Rays' bats rallied behind the absence of Derek Shelton from a 5th inning ejection, and were only down 1 run heading into the final frame. With Neftali Feliz on the hill, Logan Forsythe hit a one-out single to begin a rally he would soon help kill. James Loney's threatening glare caused Feliz to yank a wild fastball past catcher Carlos Corporan that advanced Forsythe to second. Loney then made contact, sending a looper to center that would clearly score Forsythe... except it didn't. Lo and behold, there stood Forsythe on third base. Now look... maybe Logan Forsythe didn't realize that Asdrubal Cabrera was the next guy to step into the box. Maybe he assumed that a capable professional baseball player was up next and that this person would be able to knock him home in the next at bat. Well you know what they say about assumptions right?
I've watched baseball for over thirty years. As an infant, I assume that I was positioned in front of a screen where baseball was being played at one time or another, so I'm comfortable saying thirty. I don't think I've seen a worse at bat. Ever. I'm not even sure it's hyperbole when I tell you that tiny infant baby Hatfield would have had a better at bat than Asdrubal Cabrera did there with the tying run at third and the walk-off go ahead run on first with only one out. The Rays needed a fly ball. We just needed contact! Instead, Asdrubal swung what felt like a full second late at Neftali's first fastball. Corcoran may have already begun throwing the ball back to the pitcher by the time Asdrubal took a hack. On the next pitch, Asdrubal swung at a ball so far over his head it made me guffaw out loud. Once Feliz saw just how bad Asdrubal is at hitting baseballs, he saw no need to switch up pitches. He just fired another fastball in there for a swinging strike three.
Watching Asdrubal Cabrera play baseball in the uniform of the team I love is quickly garnering reactions of hate and frustration previously reserved only for such Rays luminaries as Washed Up Hideki Matsui and the ever-terrible Casey Fossum. I hate... no I LOATHE watching this guy play baseball. I want to see my boy, TBex. I want to see Logan Forsythe. I want to see healthy Nick Franklin. I do not want to see Asdrubal Cabrera anymore. DO. NOT. WANT.
Ok, so about the rest of the game... Wandy Rodriguez had a perfect game going into the 6th inning, so there's not really a ton from the early part of the game to discuss. Things did get interesting at times though, so I'm going to bullet point a few highlights
- Umpire Mike Estabrook lives in Florida. He was born in Daytona Beach. He either HATES the Tampa Bay Rays or had an awful, awful, AWFUL game today. Mike's strike zone was laughably outrageous. He was calling strikes outside that were mid-batters box. Souza had words for him. Derek Shelton and Kevin Cash had even more. After a Joey Butler check swing (that was nowhere NEAR a strike.. he absolutely did not go), Derek Shelton shouted a few words of displeasure and was ejected. Kevin Cash jumped in front of Shelty the best he could, though too late, and had a few critiques for the Esta Bunny as well. Cash was ejected promptly and told quite clearly to "get the **** outta here" by the guy everyone paid to see today, Mikey Baseball Estabrook. After being tossed, Cash got his money's worth. He let Estabrook know what he thought of his performance and even kicked some dirt towards him in the batters box while demonstrating how ridiculous today's strike zone had been. It was great fun all around.
- I found it to be hilarious that the Rays broke up a Perfect Game almost immediately after Derek Shelton's ejection.
- The Rays did rally in the 6th, but it could have been so much more. Timmy Beckham broke up Wandy's Perfect Game to lead off the 6th. Kiermaier then hit a grounder that could have been a double play without some TBex shenanigans. Beckham slammed on the breaks running to second and tried to juke around Rosales to get to the bag. Rosales eventually tossed it to second for the force out, but it allowed KK to reach first base safely. A shaken Wandy bounced a curve into Rene Rivera's foot to put a second runner on. He looked uncomfortable pitching out of the stretch for the first time in a long time and quickly gave up a single to Brandon Guyer that sent Kiermaier to the plate for the tie. Still rattled, Wandy walked to load the bases with one out for Evan Longoria. Longo hit a rocket line drive that looked like it would score two, but Elvin Andrus made an amazing diving grab to catch it and toss it to second to end the inning with a double play. If that ball was hit another inch towards second, this recap reads very differently. Nothing more I could ask from our fearless leader in that at bat.
- Jake Odorizzi got in a bit of trouble, giving up two singles with two out in the 7th. After replacing him with Xavier Cedeno, the Rays shifted for Shin-Soo Choo. TBex made an awesome play on Choo's grounder to end the inning. I freaking love that kid.
- Speaking of people I still love, Evan Longoria made a nice little sliding catch on a foul pop up to end the 8th and a bit of a jam Kevin Jepsen created for Ernesto Frieri,
- In the bottom of the 7th, play was stopped temporarily when Rangers reliever Keone Kela broke the pitchers mound. The clay was so crusty and hard that Kela literally picked up several large chunks of dry clay that had to be replaced by the grounds crew. #TropLife
- Jake Odorizzi, who may or may not have pitched today while battling the flu, looked really solid out there. Jake gave us 6.2 innings with 7 strike outs, 7 hits and no walks. His lone glaring mistake was a solo shot he gave up to Adrian Beltre in the top of the 4th that put the Rangers out front early. Beltre gonna Beltre though, ya know?
- I'm a bit grouchy over this one. The twin dark clouds of the Alex Cobb and Drew Smyly injuries hung over the game all day, and the frustration of the 9th inning really put a cherry on top. That said though, I am incredibly impressed with this team and the way they've pushed through and found success so far in the face of a truly absurd amount of injuries and setbacks. Silverman & Cash deserve a lot of credit for the squad they've put together and the environment they've surrounded them with.