I've been caught in a disappointing dream cycle recently, where I go to bed, hoping to get a certain bit of good news in the morning. Without fail, I've dreamed -- in minute, mundane details -- that the news I was hoping for had actually happened. In this case, the news I wished for was that the Rays had won their late-night game against the Mariners.
In my dream, I rolled over repeatedly, picking up my phone and checking the score. It was 5-3 Rays, with the go-ahead runs coming on a two-run homer by Logan Forsythe in the fifth inning.
But as I've said, this type of dream has happened enough recently -- always followed by disappointing reality -- that when I finally came fully awake I realized that I had yet to check my phone, and rolled over to do so for real. I was fully expecting to see a 2-0 Mariners scoreline. I was not expecting to see that Jake Odorizzi left the game in the fifth inning, due to a possible injury.
Well played, reality. Also, lots of curse words.
Odorizzi left game with left-oblique tightness #rays— Bill Chastain (@wwchastain) June 6, 2015
"You get grabbed and you don't know what's going on when you're pitching," Odorizzi said. "You've never felt something like that before. It's kind of startling more than anything. It let go and I wanted to throw another pitch just to see how it felt and they told me no. They were doing their job, but I was trying to get one pitch just to see if it was a cramp and throw through it. We'll find out more tomorrow."
Apparently no MRI has been scheduled, so that's a good sign, maybe.
The Rays nearly got rolling in the first inning. Brandon Guyer singled with a hard, low liner into left field, bringing up the Rays offensive powerhouse, Joey Butler. Butler hit the ball harder than Guyer did, lining it into right field, but he managed to place it just correctly so that the range-less Nelson Cruz could make a play. Guyer barely scampered back in time to avoid being doubled up.
It's a shame Butler located his line drive so poorly, because Evan Longoria hit one of his own, over the glove of a leaping Cano, to put runners on first and second. Then, as the Rays have done so many times recently with Brandon Guyer on second, someone else on first, and a lefty pitching, the Rays tried to double steal. Happ, very smoothly, started his windup but turned it into an inside pickoff move and threw to third base, catching Guyer midway. Then Logan Forsythe struck out to end the inning.
Having watched the first, you might have shrugged and thought everything would be alright, because the Rays were hitting Happ hard. You might have considered that Happ is a pitch-to-contact flyball pitcher who's gotten shelled for most of his career before seemingly putting some things together after the age of 30. You might have expected runs.
The Rays didn't get another baserunner until the fourth inning, and he, Evan Longoria, was thrown out stealing second (only called out after a replay).
Bottom of the Fifth
Brad Miller lead off the inning and sent a swinging bunt down the third-base line. Evan Longoria might have had a very small chance of making the play, but Odor gave it a go until the very last moment, and his presence prevented Longo from making a full try. I mean, you don't want one of your aces getting hurt, right?
After a weak groundout from Mike Zunino, Odorizzi walked Dustin Ackley on four pitches. Then, with his first pitch to Logan Morrison, he leaned over in obvious discomfort, grimaced, and grabbed his left side. By his reaction it looked bad. The Rays conferenced on the mound, and though he clearly wished to test it out, they would not allow him to throw another pitch.
With two men on base and two lefties up, Kevin Cash brought in Xavier Cedeno, who performed like the LOOGY he is and produced weak groundouts from Morrison and Robinson Cano
The call to come into a 0-0 game with four innings to go and the bullpen needing rest is a lot of pressure to put on a rookie who the front office probably didn't picture spending any meaningful time on the majors this year, but very little has gone according to plan this season. Yet Bellatti, like the Durham pitchers have done all season, stepped up.
He totally blew Nelson Cruz away, throwing three straight sliders to start him off before putting the dangerous slugger away with a high fastball. He worked ahead of Kyle Seager, and after a few foul balls retired him on a grounder off another high fastball. Then he sat down Mark Trumbo on three pitches, and the Mariners new prize seemed totally befuddled by Bellatti's slider.
It wasn't all that easy. Bellatti walked Seth Smith in a full count to lead off the seventh inning. He did produce a groundout from Brad Miller and a strikeout from Zunino (more quality slider action), but a line-drive single from Ackkley and a walk from Morrison loaded the bases with two outs for Robinson Cano. Jim Hickey came out, and he did a lot of talking, demonstratively telling Bellatti exactly how things were going to go down, and by how Bellatti pitched, the message was to be unafraid of Cano's name, and to attack him. The sequence: fastball outside; fastball low in the zone for a whiff; fastball low in the zone for an easy groundout to first.
The Mariners went more quietly in the eighth, largely due to a fine play by Kevin Kiermaier.
The coolest thing about Bellatti's outing was just how filthy his stuff was. He was able to throw his fastball and changeup for strikes, but his slider was really fantastic. He threw 12 sliders, eight of them for strikes, and five of them for whiffs.
Great job, rookie.
The Mariners brought on their closer, Fernando Rodney, to preserve the scoreless tie in the top of the ninth. Logan Forsythe had other plans.
That brought a chorus of boos for Rodney.
Now, with Brad Boxberger having been worked hard recently (36 pitches a few days ago), and the Rays still handling Jake McGee carefully, the save opportunity fell to Kevin Jepsen.
Jepsen was throwing heat, reaching 97 mph, but he got into trouble immediately. Behind in the count 1-2, Austin Jackson managed to connect with a high fastball and lined it the other way into the gap. Steven Souza sold out, going for the amazing catch, but couldn't quite get there. Kevin Kiermaier was hustling to back the play up, but it was hit a bit too hard, or his angle was a bit too shallow, and he couldn't get there. The ball rolled to the wall, and Jackson motored into third.
Jepsen climbed the ladder on Miller to strike him out. With Zunino up, the umpire did Jepsen no favors, but Jep continued to pump those 97 mph fastballs in (along with one curve in the dirt that Rene Rivera gets a ton of credit for blocking). Eventually, one of the fastballs resulted in a fly ball to the foul territory by right field. I wondered for a second if Souza might want to let it drop foul, but he caught it and trusted his arm, and the speedy Jackson elected not to test him (which was correct, as Souza fired a one-hop bullet home that would have caught Jackson had he tried).
A flyout to short left field from Ackley ended the game.
Good job, Jepsen.
Some other notes:
- Steven Souza Jr. almost made a great diving play against a bloop fly ball, flying in and laying out, but it bounced off the tip of his glove. It's sort of funny that if the batter isn't Nelson Cruz, the most powerful man in baseball, Souza is probably a few steps in on that, and it's an easy play.
- Sousa did make a fine running catch in the second, showing that his undeniable speed does occasionally produce good outfield defense.
- Logan Forsythe threw his bat and almost hit an umpire. I always thought he was something of a Delmon Young-type player.
- Now let's get some good news about Odorizzi.
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