The Rays opened a tough ten game road trip Friday night in Baltimore, coming on the heels of a home stand that concluded with Tampa Bay dropping the last four, including getting swept at the hands of the Seattle Mariners, whom they face to conclude this road trip; needless to say, it wasn't the way the Rays drew up the conclusion of the home stand.
I was a little tough on Nathan Karns in my last recap. In my defense, I put him under the "Meh" (Shrugs Shoulders) category because he wasn't terrible, but not that great either. Tonight's Nathan Karns was indeed pretty darn good.
He worked six innings of one-hit, shutout baseball, striking out seven batters. His velocity was strong, his command was on, and his confidence was there. A strong outing by Karns that the Rays truly needed to start the road trip. Shame he was pulled so early. . .
Jake Elmore Can Baseball
This Jake Elmore is pretty good.
Much has been made of his offensive approach, especially in the article published in Tampa Bay Times Friday about his increased aggressiveness at the plate (good article, worth the read). They also made brief mention about his defensive versatility, which he put on display at first base. Elmore is a middle infielder by trade, so the plays at first are far removed from his typical course of action.
He was put to the test on two tough plays in the first three innings, as Evan Longoria made a couple of excellent diving stops and had to hurry the throws to first. The first Jake Elmore had to use all of his 5'9 frame and then some as he made a leaping catch and came down with his foot on the bag to record the out. The second was a tough throw by Longoria into the oncoming runner. Elmore deftly snagged the throw and applied the tag. For someone who had only played one inning at first base in the major leagues coming in, I'd say that's pretty good stuff.
More Managerial Questions
Ok, so if you've lived in the comments, we've beleaguered the point on Kevin Cash's bullpen decisions over the first two months of the season. Between using the bullpen for entire games to rest the rotation and going through numerous pitchers for limited outs, Cash has had us all scratching our heads this season.
Tonight was no different. Karns, who was cruising along through six excellent innings, was lifted for Kevin Jepsen who gave up the game tying home run to Chris Davis. Karns had only thrown 87 pitches through six, he had gas left in the tank. Why remove a guy in a rhythm? I don't put much stock in the premise of not letting pitchers go through the lineup more than three times. With the advanced scouting and stats available, batters typically know what pitchers are featuring before the first inning even starts. Does he not have enough confidence in his starters to let them adjust over the course of a game? I'm perplexed; befuddled, if you will. . .
The Rest of the Game
Steven Souza opened the scoring in the second inning, taking a hanging slider from Miguel Gonzalez yard.
Things were quiet until the top of the ninth, when the Rays loaded the bases, only to ground out to end the threat.
That squandered chance did the Rays in, as the Orioles managed to get runners to the corners with two outs and JJ Hardy hit a 1-0 Steve Geltz offering into left field to win it, as the Rays' losing skid grew to five games and dropped Tampa Bay to a game under .500.
My Two Cents
- Can you imagine the tirade Kevin Cash would've gone on if that hit-by-pitch call in the seventh went against the Rays?
- Interesting stat circulating on Twitter: Only two pitchers in majors have gone four starts allowing two hits or fewer - Chris Archer and Nathan Karns.