Billed as a matchup of aces, King Felix Hernandez squared off against Chris Archer before an announced crowd of 10,365 that according to sources* was actually somewhere between 69 and 420 actual "people," mostly because $tinky $tu is an aloof, out of touch bazillionaire who sometimes says mean things about the locals and doesn't own an apartment in the city.
* By "sources" we mean **"informed speculation."
** By "informed speculation" we mean "the game wasn't on teevee so we are defaulting to the internet truism, "pics or it didn't happen."
As you might have guessed, I wasn't at the game either. Neither did I watch it on TV (because as already mentioned, there wasn't any), listen to it on the radio (because I work in a building with crappy reception), nor did I even manage to follow it faithfully on Gameday (because work. Seriously, what happened to the socialist utopia I was promised? Thanks Obama). But as the rest of the "staff" would be in the same situation, I agreed to take one for the team and Hatfield this recap. Please be gentle in your critique.
Archer and King Felix took turns being dominant through the first four frames, with Chris notching seven Ks while allowing only a one-out first-inning double to Seth Smith. Hernandez's line wasn't as shiny –- recording only two strikeouts -– but he was still plenty effective, scattering singles to DeJesus and Rivera around a walk to Franklin. Two of those baserunners would be erased on double plays.
Something weird happened in the fifth: a Mariners' challenge went the Rays' way when Kyle Seager did something called "line out, second baseman Jake Elmore to first baseman Logan Forsythe." I don't know what that looks like in real life, but it was followed by a Logan Morrison single, so obviously the baseball gods were none too pleased. Order was restored when Brad Miller flew to left and Dustin Ackley K'd. Sure would have been nice to watch Archie pitch this one. 67 pitches through five innings, with eight strikeouts.
Meanwhile, King Felix kept working like Novocain. Frosty led off the Rays' half of the fifth with a lined single to left, but was quickly erased on another double play from the evil Nick Franklin, and the regression fairy brought the hammer down on fan-favorite Jake Elmore. (You mean a .538 BABIP isn't sustainable?)
In the sixth, as Archer mowed through Zunino for his ninth strikeout and the lineup flipped over for the third time, the question was quickly becoming: how far would Cash let Archer go? Would he get the quick hook even on a day when he was dominant, and when he was facing a pitcher just as dominant? As if to emphasize to his skipper not to mess with him, Archer broke out the change, sitting down Jackson on strikes for his tenth K (free pizza!) and getting Smith to fly to left. That's 81 pitches through six, ten strikeouts, two hit, no runs, no walks. Kevin Cash? Don't. You. Dare.
We need runs, dammit. Instead, we get another DP in the bottom of the sixth.
Archer and Hernandez sailed through the seventh and eighth, with Chris adding two more Ks to his line. Through eight ridiculously good innings, he was still only at 90 pitches. He had only given up two hits. No walks. And 12 Ks.
And Cash pulls him rather than risk a fourth time through the order. Because of course he does. You knew he would, didn't you? Even though you were praying he wouldn't? The only saving grace is, at least he is going with Boxy. But still. . .
Brad Boxberger started off well enough, striking out both Mike Zunino and Austin Jackson. Then (if Gameday is accurate) he started nibbling to Seth Smith and walked him on six pitches. He followed that by doing to the same thing to Robinson Cano.
Dammit, Boxy, stop messing around. Never mind the walks, you cannot fall behind these guys. Do you see who's coming up? Nelson Cruz, that's who. Then a first pitch curve misses, and I've got a baaaaaad feeling about this.
On cue, Cruz deposited a 1-0 four-seam fastball . . . well, somewhere beyond the outfield fence. 3-0 Mariners. The Rays go quietly in the ninth, and that's the ballgame and the series. How sweep it is.
But hey: we can take solace in the fact that AT LEAST CHRIS ARCHER DIDN'T HAVE TO HAVE TO FACE THE MARINERS A FOURTH TIME THRU THE ORDER.
Seriously, I hate baseball sometimes.
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