This series is a tough one for me to write about. Some of the reasons Ian touched on in yesterday’s recap (and really, you should go at least read the intro if you missed it), but for some of my own personal reasons too.
See, I don’t believe in the healing power of sports. I don’t believe communities rally behind their teams and change positively in any meaningful way. And I know before long -- maybe not today or tomorrow, but soon -- somebody is gonna start talking about Baltimore sports team bringing the city back together. And it will make me sad, because it will be fleeting at best, and a lie at worst. Sports just doesn't do that.
But do you know what I do believe does that? Do you know what I do believe in? I believe in the power of people coming together. Not to get all churchy on you, I believe in the power of fellowship, which is about so much more than hanging out together and over a beer or over dinner or watching a ballgame. It's about making our table bigger. Because when we come together -- when we really come together -- it’s not the beer or the dinner or the ballgame that changes us. It's the table. It's sitting down at that table. Together. And the bigger we can make the table, the better we will all be for it.
End sermon. Now, about that ballgame.
* * *
Mama said there would be games like this. This isn’t an offense built to score a ton of runs day in and day out. Not even just day in. Most games, we’re happy if the offense last until lunchtime. And this was one of those days when the offense barely got out of bed.
Things did have have a promising start. The Rays posted the game’s first threat in the top of the second when Kevin Kiermaier legged out the eleventy billionth hustle double of his young career. This time his victim was four-time gold-glove winner Adam Jones.
KK cares not about your reputation, Mr. Jones, only whether you’re paying attention on a particular play.
Jones then showed off this cannon on the next play, when Kiermaier tagged up and moved to third on a one out David DeJesus fly, but the throw was late and off line. This brought Steven Souza Jr. to the plate, who laid down a well-placed surprise bunt.
Mice, men, best laid plans. That Machado guy is pretty good, huh? His barehand pickup got Souza by a step, ending the scoring chance. Still, good idea and solid execution by Souza. It’s just that sometimes stuff just doesn't work out.
For his part Archer was not sharp throughout, but he did not pay a price for it until the third. After making Everth Cabrera look very silly on a slider for strike three, Archer lost Machado on a five-pitch walk. It was the third free pass Archer had given up on the night already (he would walk four on the night) after walking only six all season coming into the the game. This brought Hickey to the mound, but didn't end Archer's struggles. Jimmy Paredes singled hard through the box after working through a seven pitch at bat, and Adam Jones drove a first pitch fastball deep to center that Kiermaier corralled which allowed Machado to moved up to third. Still, with two outs there was hope that the Archer might wriggle out of it. This hope was dashed quickly when Chris Davis beat the shift with a solid single to left, plating Machado, followed by a flyball from struggling Ray-killer Steve Pearce that seemed to stay in the air forever before landing at the base of the fence. Though Pearce was thrown out by Bobby Wilson trying to advance to third, the damage was done as the bases cleared and the game.
Caleb Joseph finished the scoring for the Orioles with a solo homer off Archer in the bottom of the sixth, but for all intents and purposes, the game ended in the third. The Rays would put individual men into scoring position in the fifth (when Logan Forsythe doubled and then inexplicable did not advance to third on a groundout to second) and the eight (Frosty single, out, out, DDJ walk, pitching change, foul out by Souza, weird/funny exchange between Caleb Joseph and a Rays fan. Anybody there? I'd love to know what that was about.) And that was literally it.
This isn't to say that everything was all bad. For instance,
- If this is bad Chris Archer, then we are in for a very good year. While his command was definitely off and he walked more than we have gotten used to this season, 68 of his season-high 110 pitches still went for strikes. The velocity and movement were still there. He worked through six inning, gave up four runs, and struck out five. That's not a good line, but it's not a terrible line either.
- The two arms out of the pen tonight, Ernesto Frieri and Xavier Cedeño, also pitched well, each working a scoreless inning. I don't mean to get ahead of myself after just a couple of appearances, but I'm really liking what Cedeño had shown so far.
- The crowd. 12,789 was the announced attendance, and for once that number is probably pretty accurate. That's a pretty good showing under the circumstances. But more than that, I was really enjoying the atmosphere. It was a lively crowd, even though there were none of the sound effects and clappy scoreboard hands to tell people when to cheer. And maybe this makes me sound like a "get off my lawn" guy, but it reminded me of what baseball used to sound like. Maybe what it’s *gasp* supposed to sound like?
- Oh, you mean besides no runs?
- I don't remember Tim Welke showing up on my "bad umpire" radar before so maybe he was just having an off night, but what the heck was up with that strike zone tonight? It was both bad and inconsistent, and seemed to favor Miguel Gonzalez. Not saying he stole the game from us or anything. I don't think it mattered as far as the outcome goes. Our bats were just that bad tonight. Doesn't mean it wasn't frustrating. Do better next time, Tim.
- Tim Beckham gets a lot of dirt in his pants on pickoff attempts. I keep expecting him to do a Steve "Psycho" Lyons.
- Loved DeWayne comparing Archer and Machado's socks. Also, more players should wear high socks.
- Desmond Jennings either needs to go on the DL or learn how to play while riding a Hoveround
|10||Rays Fan in NC||4|