Tuesday was a busy day for the Rays, having to work double-time against the Kansas City Royals at Kauffman Stadium. The loss earlier in the afternoon, a Royals walk-off in grand fashion, was the fourth walk-off loss the Rays have suffered in their last five road games. Tampa Bay looked to Matt Andriese, getting the call to spot start in the latter half of the doubleheader, to help turn things around.
John Jaso sure looked glad to be back after being activated from the DL on Tuesday, and given his results at the plate, I think the Rays are glad to have the offensive help as well.
After earning a base-hit in his lone at-bat as a pinch hitter in the first game, he started the night cap at DH and kept it going, getting the Rays on the board with a solo shot in the third inning. He also hit a leadoff double in the first, and wasn't retired for the first time in 2015 until he fouled out in the fifth. With how lethargic the Rays' offense has been of late, any help from the cavalry is welcomed.
Matt Andriese looked sharp in his spot start on Tuesday evening. He had his entire arsenal of pitches working, getting a number of Royals hitters to expand the zone, even using his underutilized curveball to fool a handful of Kansas City batters.
The only run he allowed was after Alex Gordon hit a bloop single in between Logan Forsythe and Kevin Kiermaier, allowing Jarrod Dyson to score from second with two outs. Immediately following the play, he walked Kendrys Morales, which brought Kevin Cash out to make a change, ending his night after 4.2 innings and only 74 pitches thrown.
The Bullpen Breaksdown . . . Again
So once again, the most-used bullpen in baseball got called upon to preserve a tight game, and once again the collective effort was about as inspiring as a Sylvia Plath novel.
After Cash pulled Andriese (because God forbid a Rays' pitcher sees the opposing lineup more than twice), Everett Teaford came on and quickly got the last man in the fifth to ground out.
Enter Brandon Gomes. After earning a laborious groundout off the bat of Salvador Perez, Gomes drilled Paulo Orlando, who promptly stared down the Rays' pitcher in a very "My Name Is Inigo Montoya. You Killed My Father, Prepare to Die" fashion.
That glare must have scared the proverbial buhjeezus out of Gomes, because the wheels completely fell off the wagon after that. A fielder's choice got him within an out of ending the inning; however, a single by Cheslor Cuthbert and a walk to Jarrod Dyson loaded the bases for Alcides Escobar. On a full count, Escobar shot a seeing-eye liner past the diving Evan Longoria to score three, making it a 4-1 deficit.
Cash then finally made an understandable bullpen move, removing Gomes with a runner on second. Alex Colome came on in relief and quickly allowed Alex Gordon to drive in the runner from second. After allowing one more base hit to Kendrys Morales, Eric Hosmer popped out to left, mercifully ending the inning. To Colome's credit, he did pitch a strong bottom half of the seventh, retiring the side in order with two strikeouts.
Does Kevin Cash Hate Starting Pitchers?
Did Cash's starting pitcher not hug him enough? Did a starting pitcher push him down on the playground and steal his lunch money? I'm struggling to understand his pitching management philosophy, as I and others on this site have discussed at length; however, it seems Cash finds new ways for me to question his decisions.
Andriese pitched well. He gave up all of one run over 4.2 innings and threw only 74 pitches while giving up four hits and striking out five. Colome pitched half as many innings, gave up five hits, two earned runs and looked questionable at best.
The numbers don't necessarily delineate a huge margin between the two pitchers, but their usage draws up the question: Why leave Colome in there? It can't be to conserve the bullpen, otherwise your starter would have stayed in the game, having been pitching objectively well.
Perhaps Cash understands his offense is about as effective as the All-Star selection process and going to another pitcher would equate roughly to rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic. (Have I used enough cheap similies yet?)
I don't necessarily mean to beat a dead horse here, but when your starters are turning in effective outings, why pull them when they're working efficiently? I'm not advocating for a return to the days of starters throwing 130 pitches, and I'm all for the statistical revolution in professional sports. But to say that starters shouldn't be exposed to a lineup more than twice is a weak reasoning at best, and an approach that I cannot get behind. These are professional pitchers who should be able to adjust to hitters as the hitter adjusts to them. Let them pitch when they're on and save your bullpen right now; it's not even the All-Star break and it's already showing signs of wear and tear.
Is anyone else's head still spinning from how fast the Rays went from first in the division and 10 games over .500 to fourth place in the division and exactly .500?
Tampa Bay is only two games out of first, though, so . . . bright side?
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