As with any good win probability graph, the past week was chock full of ups and downs for the Tampa Bay Rays. And though they were in every game, with the exception of Saturday’s less than stellar shellacking at the hands of the Boston Red Sox, the Rays only came away with two tallies in the win column. Ouch.
In short, the same ol’ same plagued Tampa Bay this week ― the pitching staff wasn’t able to hold the leads they were given. Consider this: the Rays are now 18-31 in games decided in the seventh inning or later, and they have either held a lead or came back to tie the score in 12 of their last 14 losses. Nevertheless, they still endeavored.
Here’s your weekly Rays recap.
Drew Smyly took the mound against his former team on Labor Day, and allowed the long ball to get the best of him. That’s not to say he started the game poorly, rather Smyly tossed two excellent innings to start the game. The lefty spotted his fastball well, especially up in the zone, and paired it with his off-speed stuff at the bottom of the zone ― racking up a couple strikeouts, while giving up a pair of hits up the middle.
Yet in the third inning, he surrendered a soft double near the left-field line to Anthony Gose, then left a letter high 1-2 slider to Rajai Davis, who deposited it over the wall in left-field. In a bout of déjà vu, Nick Castellanos led off Detroit’s half of the fifth inning with a double on another hanging slider, and James McCann crushed an errant cutter to left, putting Le Tigre up by two.
In spite of Evan Longoria and JP Arencibia’s homers, which allowed the team to knot the game at four, Brandon Gomes hung a slider to Davis which found a new home in the left field stands.
Tampa Bay didn’t get a runner into scoring position until the ninth against the Tigers bullpen, and by that point it was too late. The Rays fell 5-4.
On the bright side of things, Logan Forsythe was named the AL player of the week. Forsythe hit .545 (12-22) with five runs scored, five doubles, one triple, and two walks in six games the week prior.
Tuesday featured more of the same, although with 100% more extra innings baseball. Erasmo Ramirez got the start for the Rays, and aside from a third inning solo shot off the bat of Rajai Davis, the righty sailed through the front five on just 72 pitches (a little more than 14 pitches per inning). Ramirez racked up nine strikeouts (six whiffs) in that time, while allowing three base runners on three hits. The happy one’s change-up was really working for him, and he made a couple of the Tigers’ big boppers ― namely Ian Kinsler and Miguel Cabrera ― look foolish on a pair of well located off-speed offerings.
Tampa Bay took a 5-1 lead in the sixth. Kevin Kiermaier worked a leadoff walk off Matt Boyd, and J.P. Arencibia moved him to third on a single to right. Grady Sizemore both drove in a run and moved Arencibia to third on a single to right. Tampa Bay scored three more runs on singles by Longoria, Logan Forsythe, and Tim Beckham. The lead, however, was short lived.
The wheels fell off for Ramirez in the fourth after he allowed three consecutive hard hit singles to Anthony Gose, Kinsler, and Cabrera. Erasmo got yanked in favor of Matt Andriese, who walked in Martinez after a nine pitch at-bat. Andriese has now allowed 12 runs (11 earned) in seven appearances and 10-1/3 innings since August 19th. Why Cash chose to go with him in this situation is well beyond the realm of my understanding.
The Rays had a lead when Alex Colome took the mound with the bases loaded and one out in the sixth. Colome put down Nick Castellanos looking, then hit James McCann in the head by a pitch, plating a run. He then gave up a two-run single to left, allowing Detroit to knot the game at five. Longoria was apparently unaware that the runner had stopped on the play. He cut off the throw from Sizemore to the plate, and never noticed that the runner stopped halfway between home and third. He, instead, caught McCann in a rundown between second and third, consequently allowing a run to score.
The scoring went back and forth and Tampa Bay eventually took a 7-7 tie into extras. They, however, walked away with an 8-7 loss in 13 innings after Davis hit a sac-fly into left. OF Grady Sizemore made with a Little League worthy throw to the cutoff man (Longoria) in an attempt to force a play at the plate. But alas the throw wasn’t competitive, and the winning run crossed the plate. The loss in extras became the 10th consecutive for Tampa Bay, the most in a single season since the Houston Astros dropped 11 in 2012.
Fret not Rays’ fans, the boys ended a disappointing 4-5 road trip with an impressive 8-0 win over Detroit. Up by three in the sixth, Tampa Bay extended its lead in the after Logan Forsythe and Tim Beckham hit a pair of homers, chasing. For Beckham, 49% of his hits this season have gone for extra bases. Not one to be left out from the hit show, J.P. Arencibia belted a seventh inning solo shot off reliever Buck Farmer. It was the 18th homer by a Rays’ catcher this year ― two shy of a club record. Finally, Mahtook capped the long ball fiesta when he homered off Jeff Ferrell later in the frame.
Do you wanna know the terrifying truth…or do you wanna see us sock a few dingers? pic.twitter.com/xBT6V80g9S— Tampa Bay Rays (@RaysBaseball) September 10, 2015
Odorizzi clearly did the devils work against Miggy and company by tossing six shutout innings, scattering six hits and fanning six along the way. And though he got himself into a man at third and one-out situation in the third inning ― after Anthony Gose converted a double into three bases ― and a first and second with none-out rally in the fifth, Odorizzi made a couple of big pitches to force a popper out of J.D. Martinez, and a swinging strikeout of Miguel Cabrera (respectively) to get out of both unscathed.
Editor's Note: Danny is that you?
The Rays returned home to start a three-game series against the worst team in the AL East, the Boston Red Sox. Chris Archer battled to a 5+ IP/5 H/3 ER/2 BB/8 K line on 108 pitches.
Archer started the sixth with a two run lead, yet Tampa Bay ended the frame down by one. The righty allowed an infield single through the hole at short by Xander Bogaerts, before David Ortiz blooped a single into center, putting runners at the corners with none out. After 108 pitches, Rays skipper Kevin Cash pulled Archer in favor of LHP Enny Romero, who entered to face a pair of lefties.
Travis Shaw welcomed Romero by lining a 2-2 cutter to right for an RBI double. Pablo Sandoval knotted the game at three by hitting an 0-2 single toward short, where Asdrubal Cabrera made a diving stop. Yet Cabrera couldn’t fire off an accurate throw to Richie Shaffer at first, resulting in a runners on the corners with one out situation. Brandon Gomes replaced Romero, and a pair of fly balls (including a Ryan Hanigan sac-fly) brought home Shaw with the lead run.
Junichi Tazawa took the mound with a one run lead in the bottom of the eighth. Evan Longoria quickly fell behind Tazawa before taking a 2-2 pitch to right-center for a double. Needing to come up big, Forsythe plated the tying run on a single to right, then was promptly wild pitched to second. A simple tie wouldn’t do, and Cabrera belted a two-run homer (his 12th) to center for a two-run lead.
The Rays weren’t done! Steven Souza Jr. beat out an infield single to the swarthy Pablo Sandoval at third, then was wild pitched to second before stealing his way to third. Not to be left out, JP Arencibia leveled a monster shot to section 143 (cough, three feet to my left) in left field off Noe Ramirez, the third pitcher of the inning.
If you squint your eyes, you can see me fist pump in joy, just behind the guy who caught Arencibia's bomb. It was truly my Pauly D. moment. Tampa Bay ultimately walked away victorious, taking the first game of the series 8-4.
Another game, another career milestone at the hands of the Rays. Matt Moore got the start and laid a 5 IP/9 H/8 ER/1 BB/3 K/4 HR egg, which included David Ortiz’s 500th homer. Per Dave Haller (Tampa Bay Rays director of communications) it was Ortiz’s sixth career multi-HR game at Tropicana Field, tying Carlos Pena for most all-time. Kevin Cash said they wouldn’t read too much into Moore’s outing; his stuff was good but he poorly located his pitches. He is expected make his next start as scheduled. Still, one can’t help but wonder why Nathan Karns didn’t take over for Moore ― you know, since he was named as Moore’s caddy.
Drew Smyly made his second start in a week’s time amidst questions of which Drew might take the mound. After all, the lefty has alternated between good and bad starts since returning from the DL. Smyly silenced the critics by posting a dominant 6 IP/4 H/0 R/2 BB/11 K gem on 97 pitches (60 strikes). Sure, the southpaw got himself into five full counts. However, he also came back with big pitches in three of those situations, collecting a pair of swinging strikeouts and a ground ball out.
Yet, 35 year-old LHP Rich Hill proved to be an equally formidable opponent in his first start since 2009, holding Tampa Bay to just one hit in seven strong innings. Only three batters reached against Hill on a walk, a hit, and a hit by pitch of Richie Shaffer.
Both teams traded relievers back and fourth, yet neither relinquished a run, and into extras the ballgame went for the second time in a week. Adding insult to injury, only two other Rays reached (on a pair of 10th inning walks) until Steven Souza Jr. smoked a double up the left field line in the 11th. Still, they couldn’t push past the winning run.
After Enny Romero dealt three consecutive hits to load the bases with one out, Kevin Cash called upon Andrew Bellatti, who promptly gave up a two-run liner into left, handing Boston the go ahead lead in the 13th. In the end the Rays fell in extra innings for 11th time this season. They ended the day four games under .500, tying their low water marks for the season.
They’ll welcome the Evil Empire into Tropicana Field for a three-game set, starting Monday. The Rays remain six games back in the Wild Card standings with five teams separating them from the post season.