The Rays opened the final series of this long, 10 game road swing that has brought them to the west coast, land of late starts and late bed times for fans and writers alike, against the Seattle Mariners, who didn't do the Rays any favors by being swept in three games by the Yankees immediately before Tampa Bay came to town. This one's going to be short, what with the late start and my needing my beauty sleep, but here goes.
Butler Continues to Shine
Another unexpected bright spot this season has been the offensive production of Joey Butler. Over 26 games and 86 at-bats this season, Butler is batting .337 with a not-too-shabby OBP of .367. For you savvy mathematicians out there yes, that does only equate to 12 hits over an admittedly small sample size; however, keep in mind four of those twelve hits have been long balls. Granted, he strikes out waaay too much for how little he walks (read: he never walks), but he still finds ways to get the ball in play and give the offense life, and it can use all the life it can get these days.
Oh, and did I mention he's quietly on a six-game hitting streak, including back-to-back multi-hit games, a 4-for-5 outing in Baltimore, and a home run in last night's extra-inning win? The numbers suggest a regression is coming, but for now, the Rays will take the production while they can get it.
Ramirez Returns to Seattle
Rays' starter Erasmo Ramirez faced his former team for the first time since being acquired by the Rays this season. He pitched decently, scattering seven hits and striking out five while walking one batter over 5.1 innings. He got himself into a couple of jams and was able to escape most of them, except in the fifth when Dustin Ackley got to third on a hit-and-run play off a single by Austin Jackson and was later plated by perennial bane-of-the-Rays Robinson Cano.
He was lifted in the sixth after throwing only 72 pitches though, in this case, I liked Cash's use of the bullpen early. Ramirez wasn't pitching efficiently and wasn't in any sort of rhythm. The timing was well chosen by the Rays' skipper. Coming off extra innings, you'd like to see your starter carry you a little later into the game to save the bullpen but, when he's not instilling the confidence that he can get most batters out, it's time to call in the relief.
My Two Cents
- Had to watch the game on MLB Network because apparently the 10PM demographic at Sun Sports would rather watch semi-pro rodeos (Not pretending to know the nuances of the Rays' TV contract, just making a humorous observation).
- That said, watching the Seattle broadcast wasn't bad. Their announcing team does a great job.
- A couple of hat tips to Mikie Mahtook and Logan Forsythe for some great defensive plays.
- Mariners' starter Roenis Elias is pretty good. That breaking ball is some kind of nasty.
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