The Rays front office and coaches know what they're doing. Nathan Karns had thrown just 66 pitches and allowed one hit through six innings, yet Steve Getlz was warming in the bullpen. The team has been very cautious with it's young starters this season, often removing them from a game before they face a lineup for the third time. The strategy has worked out well, but it's sometimes frustrating for the pitcher and the fans. I'm in favor of it to a point. Eventually these young starters will need to learn how to navigate through a lineup for a third time and pitch deeper into games. Pulling Karns after six innings tonight would have been a step too far in the cautionary arena for me tonight.
Karns was allowed to start the sixth. Hooray! Yoenis Cespedes took the first pitch from Karns in the seventh and crushed it several rows up in the left field seats. Boooo! Victor Martinez then followed with a single to left and just like that Karns was gone in favor of Kevin Jepsen. Looks like the Rays know what they're doing with their pitchers after all. Jepsen pitched pretty well, with help from a few excellent blocks by Curt Casali. Hopefully this outing helps to raise his trade value before Friday's deadline.
He hasn't gotten much attention in the rookie of the year race, but Nathan Karns has a good case. He's thrown 20 more innings than the other rookie starter in the American League and 40 more than Lance McCullers and his 2.60 ERA. On the offensive side, no one is jumping off the page like Mike Trout or Jose Abreu have in the past few years. Tonight's start marks his 15th (of 20) allowing two runs or fewer, tying Felix Hernandez for the major league lead.
The star of the night on the other side of the ball was easily Curt Casali. The 26-year-old catcher, starting his third straight game, has earned the increased playing time. He hit two home runs tonight and now has four in his last six games. He has 12 hits on the season and eight have gone for extra bases. He gave the Rays the lead in the bottom of the third inning with a leadoff homer on the first pitch he saw from Anibal Sanchez. In the eighth inning with a man on and the Rays leading by one he hit a towering fly ball to left field that looked to soar over a catwalk and landed in the 162 Landing area. It wouldn't have cleared the wall just a few feet to the right.
The Rays other two runs came on a Kevin Kiermaer bloop double in the fourth and a sharp single from Logan Forsythe in the fifth.
Logan Forsythe is now hitting .285/.370/.444.
Jake McGee struggled a bit and allowed his first earned run since May 26th, a streak of 21 appearances.