Nathan Karns didn't really have it tonight. In the first, he gave up a couple of runs, three on an early Miguel Sano home run. In a way, this wasn't necessarily a surprise. Karns is a very, very good pitcher, but he has made a habit of allowing first inning runs.
<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"><p lang="en" dir="ltr"><a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/Rays?src=hash">#Rays</a> Nathan Karns has allowed 24 of 57 runs and 5 of 18 HR this year in the first inning after Sano's HR put Twins up 3-0</p>— Neil Solondz (@neilsolondz) <a href="https://twitter.com/neilsolondz/status/636317240128835584">August 25, 2015</a></blockquote>
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It's a bit odd to have a pitcher that is perhaps best known for his inability to maneuver a third time through the order that also has trouble in the first, statistically speaking. Karns has been a very valuable asset for the Rays, and that truly is a testament to the quality of his pitches that are sandwiched in between those two "danger zones."
All that said, it's clear Karns had some sort of mechanical issue tonight or something that kept him from being an effective pitcher. He went a mere three innings (68 pitches) and allowed five runs in that time. In each inning, the damage could have been much worse. In the second he allowed a walk and a hit to put runners on the corners with one out. Facing the meat of the Twins order, Karns struck out wunderkind Byron Buxton and got the dangerous Brian (Bull)Dozier to fly out. Thus was the only inning (and one of the very few) innings in which the Rays put up a goose egg.
Karns labored through the third as well. He walked the first two batters he faced on ten pitches. Despite getting two outs, Karns uncorked a wild pitch, and on a 3-2 count (one pitch away from ending the inning) Torii Hunter drove in both the runners now placed in scoring position. That one hurt the most.
And yet, despite it all, Karns never put the game out of reach. The Rays contacted the run bank earlier today to take out an advance on runs for tonight's game, it seems, because through Karns' first three innings, the Rays matched the Twins hit-for-hit, point-for-point.
In the second, Asdrubal Cabrera tripled home Forsythe, who himself was singled home by Loney. At the time this put the Rays down 3-2, making Loney on first the tying run. Unfortunately, despite putting a runner in scoring position, the Rays couldn't capitalize on that opportunity.
But hey you know what it was alright because the Rays immediately capitalized on another, even more remote opportunity! With two outs and a runner on second in the third inning, the Rays reached base three consecutive times to score three runs in the span of eleven pitches. The game turned so fast that we all got whiplash.
And then it snapped back. Matt Andriese, who hasn't looked nearly as dominant as he had been in AAA, allowed a two-run tater to Brian Dozier (his 26th of the year), and from that point the Twins never looked back. Despite an RBI single by Jaso with one out in the fourth, the Rays couldn't muster together enough offense at that time to tie the game once more. The inning after that, the Twins put up a three-spot off of Andriese, who had even more of a disappointing day than Nathan Karns. He'd end the day with quite the odd line: 3 IP, 5 ER, 5 K.
A day you'd want to forget. It'll be easy though, I think. Fresh off his CG one-hitter, Chris Archer is looking to right the ship. That said it's sinking pretty fast. Can Archer steer away from the iceberg? Will he be able to get the lifeboats off in time? Will this overwrought metaphor last beyond this sentence? Find out: tomorrow.
- Curt Casali hit another home run though. Right now he has 10 on the year. Holy cow is this what having an offensive catcher is like? And by "offensive catcher" I don't mean a "catcher that offends me," because Lord knows I know what that feels like.
- Xavier Cedeno's nice little streak has ended. Eddie Rosario hit a leadoff homer off of the lefty specialist to end his scoreless/walkless streak at 15 games. That's still a Rays record, and for what it's worth Cedeno didn't walk anyone, so that's still something to keep an eye on.
- Boy, I love Enny Romero (I was at his major league debut and I got him to sign my scorebook that day) but we can't be seeing him in anything more significant than low-leverage situation. Even though he worked a clean eighth, he allowed a frozen rope of a line drive from Dozier and a long fly ball by Joe Mauer. Although he did strike out Byron Buxton, so who knows?
- Having Kevin Jepsen come in to close out the game is like a schoolyard bully asking the nerd in the glasses why he keeps hitting himself, why he keep hitting himself, why he keeps hitting himself.