It was a fairly uneventful game for the first five innings. The Twins threatened a time or two and the Rays finally got their first hit, and first run, on a Daniel Nava line drive homer to lead off the fourth. Chris Archer was mostly excellent until the seventh inning, but I'm here to talk about the sixth.
The Twins had tied the game on a two out home run by Eduardo Escobar. The Rays rallied in the bottom of the frame, singling three straight times to load the bases with no out for Rene Rivera. Here's where it gets interesting. Late in a tie game is a good place to pinch hit for the worst hitter in the majors, regardless of which position he plays and the circumstances surrounding it. Brandon Guyer is just sitting on the bench, and while he isn't good against right handed pitching, but he's a hell of a lot better than Rene Rivera. When asked about the decision not to pinch hit for Rivera, Kevin Cash said "Being a no-out situation, you hate to lose your catcher with Arch out on the mound. That's the guy that he's thrown to predominantly the whole [season]. So in that situation, no." That's a terrible excuse. Archer was close to 100 pitches and would have likely only thrown one more inning. If he can't throw one inning to J.P. Arencibia, with a potential lead if Rivera is pinch hit for, then he shouldn't be on the mound at all. Let's say this game was played in a National League park and it was Archer who was coming to the plate in the sixth inning of a tie game with the bases loaded. He's absolutely be pinch hit for, and the drop off from him to Brandon Gomes or whoever they'd bring in is far worse than Arencibia catching for three innings.
Unsurprisingly, Rivera popped out in foul territory. The Twins brought in southpaw Brian Duensing to face Daniel Nava. This is where Cash made another mistake. Nava CAN switch hit in the same sense that I CAN bowl with my left hand, it's just not going to be very good. Coming into the season his slash line from the right side of the plate was 209/.287/.298. During spring training he talked about giving up switch hitting. He's had nine plate appearances from the right side all season.
Again, Brandon Guyer, a better hitter and defender than Nava, sat on the bench. A few pitches later, Nava pops out into shallow right field. Now with two outs Cash decides to send Guyer to pinch hit for Grady Sizemore. Guyer flew out, but it would have been enough to score a run, had it come with zero or one out. Instead, the Rays loaded the bases and came up empty. Even if you believe in his rationale of leaving Rivera in you can't be OK with Nava and Guyer batting instead of Guyer and Sizemore. I've been a fan of the moves Cash has made this season, but that was probably his most egregious error.
On a positive note, Evan Longoria doubled and homered, Kevin Kiermaier extended his major league leading triples total to 12, and Archer recorded his ninth game this season with 10 or more strikeouts.