After being swept by the Rangers over the weekend, a strong start to the serious in Houston would go a long way in keeping up with the red-hot Orioles in the wild card standings. The offensive output in Dallas was lackluster, but thankfully that didn't transfer over on the short trip to H-Town.
Facing former Ray Scott Kamir, the Rays got to the scoring early. Asdrubal Cabrera continued his torrid pace with a two out run-scoring single in the first. That brought up Tim Beckham who took an 0-2 changeup and launched it into left field for a three run homer. They'd tack on another run in the fifth off Kazmir on a bases loaded sac-fly from Cabrera. Kazmir would be charged with his final run in the sixth after pinch hitter John Jaso sliced a single into left. All told, they tagged Kazmir, who had been pitching wonderfully with Houston, for nine hits and six runs over just 5.1 innings.
The offense wasn't done, scoring three more in the ninth thanks to run scoring singles from Cabrera and Curt Casali. Every starter picked up at least one hit with Cabrera and Beckham driving in three runs each.
Coming off arguably the best start of his career, Erasmo Ramirez turned in another good performance. He ended up being pulled with two outs in the sixth, but would have completed the inning if not for a throwing error by Tim Beckham on a routine groundout. He allowed a run in the second inning, aided by another error on Beckham. If the play is made cleanly, and even if it's not turned into an out at first, the runner has to hold at third and may not have scored later in the inning. The only hard hit ball came from the Paul Bunyan-like Evan Gattis. He took an 0-2 shoulder-high fastball that was well off the outside of the plate and smacked it into the right field seats. A better hitter doesn't even attempt to swing at that pitch. A better hitter doesn't get a run there either. Steve Geltz, Brandon Gomes, and the newly recalled Enny Romero teamed up to finish the game, each striking out two batters.
Jake Odorizzi takes the hill tonight, looking to rebound from one of the worst outings of his career with the Rays sitting 2.5 games back of the second wild card.