On the night that Chris Archer set a new franchise mark with his 240th strikeout, passing Scott Kazmir as the single season strikeout king, it was the walks that did him in. Well, that and the terrible offense, but you already knew that, right?
First, the good news. This was #240, when Chris sat down Brett Gardner in the 3rd inning:
He would finish his night with seven strikeouts, running his season total 243. Unfortunately, he would also walk four, two of which would come around to score the only runs he allowed -- one each in the second and the sixth -- and the Rays spent the rest of the night trying to play catch up. They never succeeded, but it wasn't for lack of chances.
Tampa Bay put runners on in every inning except the third and the ninth, and had them in scoring position in the first, second, fifth, sixth, and seventh. They scored one run. One. Run.
To be fair, it might have been more than one, but the camera man was asleep at the switch in the sixth when a Steven Souza flyball may or may not have hit a catwalk. Seriously, after all the times camera guy has faked us out over the years, he couldn't follow the one fly ball where it would have mattered? Ugh.
But I'm getting ahead of myself. First, the Rays blew their first good scoring chance in the inning prior, in the fifth. With one out, Rene Rivera singled, followed by a John Jaso double toward the gap left center. But with runners on second and third, Mikie Mahtook was put in a deep hole by two borderline calls.
Take a look at #1 and #2. If Severino gets one of those, fine, Mahtook has a fighting chance. If he gets both, there's not much Mikie can do. He ended up grounding out softly to the pitcher. Then Longoria hit a weak popup to the catcher to end the threat.
The sixth followed, with Souza's non-homer coming after a Loney one out single. James would motor around to score on the play, while Souza stopped at second, apparently unsure if they were going to wave Loney in. That little excursion into run scoring ended with Ks by Franklin and Kiermaier.
Hey, the seventh was fun though! After Justin Wilson retired the first two hitters, Girardi went to Dellin Betances, who threw two nasty pitches to pinch hitter Grady Sizemore before abruptly losing the zone. He would end up losing Sizemore on six pitches (and the balls weren't close), and would then walk both Longoria and Forsythe on five pitches each. And again, the balls weren't close. This brought James Loney to the plate, the only Ray who had actually looked good at the plate all night. He was 3 for 3! So of course he struck out on three nasty pitches.
But the eighth. Oh my, the eighth. The most Rays thing of all happened in the eighth. Souza led off the inning with a single, then got a huuuuuuge jump against Betances on the 1-0 pitch. He had the base stolen easily. But the Rays ... well, the Rays had the bunt on. And Nick Franklin did Nick Franklin things and popped the bunt up to the third. Easiest double play you will ever see.
And that was it. Riefenhauser did work a solid, clean inning in the 7th. Bellatti worked a clean 8th before giving up an mammoth bomb to Greg Bird in the 9th for the final margin, and the Rays went quietly in the 9th against Andrew Miller. Ball game.
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