Today's game was supposed to be a pitchers' duel. In reality, not so much. But that's why we play the games. Instead, we got a high scoring affair, where the Jays bats outclubbed the Rays, 10-8. But even as a slugfest, it didn't start out nearly as exciting as it ended up, at least not for Rays fans. For Jays fans, it started off great.
For Rays fans, the saving grace of the early innings was that an Asdrubal Cabrera second inning single meant we weren't going to be no-hit. Other than that? Ugh. (Also, this game wasn't on television. And as one of the few guys on the masthead who actually lives in the Tampa Bay area: yes, that means I didn't actually watch the game. I did, however, catch the first inning and a half on the radio on my way home from the car wash. Which made me really glad the game the wasn't on TV.) Here is how Archer's first inning went: infield single, walk, home run. Strikeout. Double, home run. Pop out. Strikeout. 5-0, Blue Jays, and the crowd at the former Skydome sounded as electric as David Price's stuff. I turned off the car, made some frozen pizza for lunch, and committed to following the rest of the game on Gameday. I just couldn't bring myself to turn the radio back on.
Imagine my surprise when the Rays didn't just roll over. A four-run third inning, backed by a two-run single by Souza/error on Pennington, a sac fly from Frosty, and a run scoring single from Cabby brought the Rays within one. And even after Archer gave two of those runs back in the bottom of the frame, the Rays kept fighting. Kevin Kiermaier's solo shot in the fourth pulled the Rays back within two.
Unfortunately, Chris Archer never found his form. After loading the bases with one out in the bottom of the fourth, he got ahead of Ryan Goins, but was unable to put him away with a strikeout. Goins' at-bat would end with a sac fly, pushing the lead back to three. Then, after the next batter, Kevin Pillar, doubled in Justin Smoak to make the score 9-5, Kevin Cash finally pulled the plug on Archer.
Since Archer has cut down on his between-starts work, there have been times when he hasn't been sharp, but he's never really been bad. Until today. Today he was horrible. Three and two-thirds innings, nine runs, ten hits, five walks, three strikeouts. Of his 100 pitches, only 55 went for strikes. Game Score of three. Three? Yes, that's a single-digit three.
Riefenhauser did solid work out of the pen, getting the last out of the fourth, then navigating through the meat of the order in the fifth while yielding just a walk.And with 69 year-old LaTroy Hawkins on to pitch the top of the sixth for the Jays, you still had a smidgen of hope. But a leadoff single by Cabrera came to nothing after a Shaffer strikeout and a double play groundout by Loney.
A chain gang of relievers worked the middle innings, with Andrew Belatti, Xavier Cedeno, and Brandon Gomes working together to hang scoreless frames in the sixth and seventh, while Aaron Loup, Liam Hendricks, and Aaron Sanchez guided the Jays through the seventh and eighth. Then, for the bottom of the eighth, Cash handed the ball to Kirby Yates despite the facts that 1) Yates is homer-prone, 2) the Jays hit a ton of homers, and 3) Gomes had thrown just one pitch to get out of the 7th. The first batter Yates faced was Jose Bautista. I bet you can't guess what Joey Bats did. Oh, you can? Yeah. Five run game.
Ryan Tepara came on to close out the game for the Jays. But after watching the righty walk Cabrera and seeing Shaffer reach on a throwing error by Justin Smoak, John Gibbons called on lefty Brett Cecil.
For reasons known only to Kevin Cash, he chose not to pinch hit for James Loney, who grounded meekly to second, moving up both runners. But the rally wasn't over. Kiermaier reached on the Jays' third error of the game, a fielding error by second baseman Darwin Barney (really? Darwin Barney? That's not a ball player, that's a lawyer) scoring Cabrera, moving Shaffer to third, and allowing KK to reach second. 10-6.
Gibbons again made the call to the 'pen, this time for Roberto Osuna. Cash countered with pinch hitter Grady Sizemore, who lined single to center, scoring Shaffer. 10-7, and hey, wouldn't it be nice it we didn't give them an extra run last inning? Next up, John Jaso pinch hit for Brandon Guyer and promptly laced a single to right, scoring KK. 10-8, two on, one out, and Steven Souza at the plate representing the go-ahead run.
Unfortunately, after working the count full, Souza lined out to center. Two outs, for Evan Longoria, and wouldn't this be a fine time for a homer? Why, yes. Yes, it would. Sadly, we didn't get one, as Longo grounded into a force out to end the game. Still, a valiant effort, especially considering the way things started.
A few bullet points:
- While this is no excuse for bad pitching, the zone did seem tight and kinda wonky, at least on Gameday.
- The Blue Jays clinched at least a Wild Card spot, ending a 22-year drought.
- The Rays? Still not eliminated.
|Roll Call Info|
|Commenter list||EvenLongoria, JRTW612, Mister Lizzie, Rays1118, budman3, thedudeofdudes, turntwo21|
|# Recs||Commenter||Comment Link|
|2||JRTW612||Also Kirby Yates is the worst pitcher I've ever seen|
|1||JRTW612||Wow. Really, Archer? What a let down. This could have been such a great game.|