The baseball gods giveth, and the baseball gods taketh away. In my case ‒ and maybe yours too ‒ the baseball gods taketh away the huge chip on my shoulder after the team dropped two consecutive series and five out of their last seven games overall.
I attended a couple of games against Boston this weekend past, with the audacious idea that the Rays would walk away with a series win against the worst team in the AL East. The chutzpah, right? In all fairness, I kind of expected a loss to Rick Porcello ‒ after all, he has pitched the Rays well over his career. My premonition skills were strong on that one. However, the win against Wade Miley ‒ a pitcher who posited a career 0.47 ERA in three previous starts against Tampa Bay ‒ was somewhat unexpected, encouraging, and frankly pretty great. The added benefit of the winning contest was the blossoming of my cocksure attitude toward the overbearing Bostonians in attendance ‒ pink hatters, or otherwise.
But just as a series win seemed imminent, the Red Sox teed off against Chris Archer to the tune of a career high three home runs. The baseball gods taketh away sole possession of first place in the AL East.
Monday is another day, and the Rays are set* for a four game home series against the Cleveland Indians. Among the high expectations heaped upon the team this week, the return of a pair of starters just might hold the highest amount of anticipation ‒ Erasmo Ramirez and Matt Moore should get the start Tuesday and Thursday (respectively).
Ramirez threw a bullpen session on Saturday, and felt great afterward. All signs suggest that the smiley one is amped and ready to throw on Tuesday against Danny Salazar. As for Moore, the lefty threw 94 pitches (56 strikes, 60% K%) over five innings on Saturday for the Durham Bulls. He allowed five hits and two earned runs. Skipper Kevin Cash said the team will wait until the lefty returns from North Carolina before they map out the exact date of his return, although it’s reasonable to assume he’ll toe the rubber opposite of Corey Kluber on Thursday.
A question of Moore’s command lays in the wake of his rehabilitation assignment ‒ a combined 3.27 BB/9, and lack of efficiency during his rehab stint speak to that. Yet one thing** bodes in his favor, each outing was progressively better than the last. Too, what more should you expect from someone who has essentially been out of commission for almost a year and a half?
*Scheduled may have been a better word choice. Technically speaking, the Rays are always set for a game or a series. However, the resulting box-score tends to be the great contrarian. I digress.
** Yes, I’m well aware that I may have oversimplified things to some extent.
‒ In 1934, an American Legion team from Massachusetts traveled to North Carolina for a tournament. When organizers refused to let their black pitcher take the mound, they turned back around, writes Marty Dobrow (Vice Sports). The article is great, and well worth your time.
‒ Ben Lindbergh (Grantland) wrote about how Chris Archer (among others) rode his slider to become one of the better pitchers in major league baseball.
‒ Robinson Cano left a game Saturday after getting drilled in the head by an errant warmup throw. I’m not certain if hilarity ensued, however, he was seen sporting a catchers mask in the dugout Sunday afternoon.
‒ It looks like the Home Run Derby during this year’s All Star Week will be different, although...ahem, I’m pretty sure no Rays will be tapped to participate. The revamped event will move to an eight-player bracket and timed rounds.