Coming into tonight's game Rays' starter Alex Colome had allowed just two runs in his two starts this season. That number would be quintupled by the time he left the mound Monday. With the naked eye it was easy to see that he left too many pitches elevated, and the Yankees did not miss on seizing the opportunity to make him pay.
The command he had shown in his previous two starts simply wasn't there. He only walked one batter, his first of the season, but was missing his spots all night and leaving balls in the middle of the plate. All but one of the Yankees' eleven hits off him came in the first three pitches of the at bat. Rays' manager Kevin Cash even made a note of it in his postgame press conference, singling out Chase Headley's three-run homer on a 0-0 changeup as unusual because that's an awfully specific pitch to be sitting in to start an at bat. Though, he did say he didn't think Colome was tipping his pitches. I'm sure they'll go back and review the tape, but it's more likely than not a combination of mechanical errors that cost him tonight.
What made Colome's night even more frustrating, and strange, was the fact that all eight runs he allowed came via the two-out homer. That's four homers in all. I have no idea if that's a record, but if not, it has to be damn close. The Rays' bullpen hadn't been stretched too thin the past couple of games, but this was the start of a four game series against a good hitting team, so I can understand why Cash let Colome pitch the sixth inning when he clearly didn't have it tonight.
The Rays' offense scored one run in the first inning on a double to left field by Logan Forsythe that brought home Brandon Guyer. That was the good part of the play. The bad parts all fell on the shoulders of Steven Souza Jr. Brett Gardner came close to running down Forsythe's double, but the ball landed just outside his glove then bouncing to the wall. The picture below, courtesy of Jason Collette, is of the ball getting past Gardner.
What you don't see in the picture is Souza. He was on second base when the at bat began and he's still standing on second base here. You HAVE to be standing between second and third, looking at Gardner to see if he catches it. If he does you can easily jog back to the bag. If not, you score easily. Instead, Souza retreats back to the bag when he thinks it's going to be caught and has to start from scratch as Gardner collects the ball. He ended up easily being thrown out at home. Unfortunately for Souza and the Rays the fun was just beginning.
The rule which disallows a catcher blocking the plate is a confusing one, with Cash adding "it's a difficult rule to understand." Look at the picture below, again from Collette.
That sure looks like McCann is blocking the entire baseline. Souza took a wide turn around third base, does that then nullify the basepath? Confusing as hell, and as the Rays have been wont to do this season, they lost the challenge.
C.C. Sabathia then settled down and faced the minimum over the next fifteen batters. The Rays were able to get to him in the seventh inning, thanks to back-to-back homers from Forsythe and Joey Butler and a sacrifice fly from Tim Beckham. He ended up 3-4 on the night with three runs driven in, moving his season line up to .303/.372/.486 and a .375 wOBA, which would have put him fourth in the league among second basemen coming into tonight. In short, he's been stellar.
With the Rays rotation once again in flux it's a comforting feeling have Chris Archer take the mound tomorrow. He'll need to rebound from his worst outing of the season if the Rays want to improve upon their 1-6 record against the Yankees this season.