As the Rays began their third series in Philadelphia since 2008, not many from either's World Series roster are still available to share their thoughts, but Marc Topkin captured a few tales you should read if you have not. Read it, get angry, let's go.
Leading off for the Rays, cleverly by Kevin Cash, was former Philly outfielder Grady Sizemore, and he promptly singled up the middle. New two-hole man Logan Forsythe followed with a walk, and after a ride to the warning track by the ISO-less Evan Longoria put runners on the corners.
After a pop out, David DeJesus took a five pitch walk, and the bases were juiced for Tim Beckham. Ah, that name. 2008 sure had its highs and lows. Beckham would strike out, but I had good feelings about this game.
Kiermaier led the second with a standing double, and Matt Moore moved the runner with a beautiful bunt, making him officially the only Rays batter who can bunt. The top of the order then came back around, and Sizemore walked. Frosty followed with a hot shot out to the 387 sign in left field through the gap. Both runners scored, including Grady hustling on those restructured needs. Dude was eager, and gave the Rays a 2-0 lead.
Matt Moore's Improvements
Matt Moore's previous start awarded him a victory, his first in 650 calendar days, and he did it behind a breaking ball that looked lively. The same was true today, including a nice K to cap the first frame. The real test would come in the following inning when Moore started leaning on his fastball.
He walked Jeff Francour to start the second, after a gift to the batter on a full count, then Darin Ruf earned his own fouling pitches to put two men on. Freddy Galvis followed with his own full count as Moore started losing his grip of the strike zone, throwing six of eight pitches above the zone, but coaxed a pop out to settle back in.
Odubel Herrera (the center fielder) laid down a quality bunt that Longo couldn't beat to load the bases, but the Phillies had the catcher and pitcher following with one out. The catcher popped up, then Moore fed 94 MPH heat down the middle. Almost out of the inning, it's important to note how sweaty Matt Moore looked. Forgoing the under shirt and constantly wiping his hand on his pants, the third pitch to the batter was wild, allowing the man on third to score. He then walked the damned pitcher, his third free pass of the game.
The following pitch to Cesar Hernandez was an easy fastball down and in, giving the baby horses a 3-2 lead. The following batter was fed in the strikezone well with some breaking stuff, putting away Ben Revere, but it was suddenly a more even game than I'd hoped.
By the end of the second inning, the starters had combined for nearly 100 pitches. It felt like it would be a bullpen day for Tampa Bay, with Moore showing great break and better heat, but an inconsistent grip, weather or otherwise.
In a hitter's ballpark, the Phillies are remarkably terrible right now, with their best hitter most likely being Ben Revere. How the mighty have fallen! /chuckles /weeps gently
The other contender would be Maikel Franco, and against the humidity-plagued Moore, he led the third with a well-struck lead off single but was gunned down by DDJ trying to stretch a double. Jeff Francoeur made up for it with his own well hit ball but Darin Ruf GIDP'd, falling for the first-pitch change.
From there Matt Moore kind of settled in. Maybe the night got cooler, maybe his head did instead, but Moore was in the zone through the fourth, setting them down in order, and then got two into the fourth with a triple allowed between the outs. Alex Colome was brought in for relief, but didn't get aggressive. The Phillies were able to bat one in, but a second man on for the corners when Loney's glove erred on a bounce throw from third, and then some extra drama was sprinkled in.
For that, let's go to the tape!
Francouer's second plate collision on the night! The call stood in the Rays favor.
Things didn't end well
Phillies starter David Buchanan would pitch through Casali's forthcoming at bat, a strikeout, to make his start the longest of his season, and the longest by a Philly since May 14th - and putting the Rays in the exact situation they wanted to avoid. The Philadelphia ‘pen is more than capable, with Giles and Papelbon looming, but before Buchanan left the game Kevin Kiermaier was able to hit a stand-up triple, his MLB-leading 10th on the season.
The Rays pinch hit from the pitcher's slot with the quality bench-bat of Brandon Guyer, forgoing the handedness match up of John Jaso, and it paid off with a grate plate appearance: two shots nearly fair, then a third-time's-the-charm single to score KK.
The Phillies pulled the starter for a southpaw, and the Rays answered by exchanging Grady Sizemore for the slumped Joey Butler with a chance at waking from his slumber with the lumber. He broke his bat trying, but chased a slide in the dirt like a kid playing ball without his glasses. When Souza returns from the DL, it's hard to think it could be anyone other than Butler heading down. Forsythe followed with his own whiff on a slider, and the threat was over, despite a nice stolen base by Guyer.
The Rays came back around in the eighth with a lead off base runner in Evan Longoria, when Maikel Franco over threw his first baseman. He had a laser beam earlier in the night, a second try was welcomed in my opinion, just to see the arm on display, but no dice. Loney and DDJ followed with lines out into the outfield, and John Jaso finally got his turn, but pinch hitting for Beckham instead of the pitcher. The Phillies had no one warming to counteract, so Cash jumped on the match up. Too bad he went down swinging.
Going into the bottom of the eight, the consequence of the move was adding Jake Elmore into the game and lifting Jaso for someone who can play short stop, eating up the final non-catcher bench hitter. Steve Geltz whipped up a clean frame, needing seven pitches for all three batters.
Now, before we talk about the ninth inning, remember how terrible Phillies fans are? Here's a couple interesting stories from this game:
- After a lead off bunt in the bottom of the first, David DeJesus fielded the foul ball and took a moment picking it up. He was promptly booed by the fans in the front row for not immediately giving it to them, so he chucked it to the back rows. Good for you, David.
- Darin Ruf lined one foul into the stands in the second inning, and it ricocheted off a fans beer, causing great concern to the Rays Radio booth. Apparently the fan was "missing a chicklet" up front, and the absent tooth led the announcers to momentarily believe the beer had caused it. Nope, it's just a toothless fan.
- And how about how the audience eagerly booed their closer, who was 15-for-15 in save opportunities. Now he's 16-for-16. Kevin Kiermaier fouled five pitches before taking strike three, Curt Casali went down swinging hard, then Brandon Guyer swung at everything he saw, grounding out. Papelbon didn't throw a ball.
- Matt Moore fouled five of nine pitches in his second at bat, gobbling up nine tosses from the starter. That's a nice AB.
- David Buchanan pitched so well in this game, he was demoted to Triple-A less than an hour after the victory.
- The Phillies have won four straight, and I still hate them. Tomorrow, 2014's seventh overall draft pick Aaron Nola makes his professional debut.
- A nice story from Rays Radio told how, on this date 46 years ago, play was stopped to announce the moon landing, including the audio from Neil Armstrong. A rendition of God Bless America followed, and play was resumed. Hey Sternfan1, what is your memory of the moon landing?
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