Well howdy there strangers! You lost? Just passin' through? I can tell you're a wanderer like myself, here's a place where we like to relax and take our minds off our troubles. But you don't seem like quite the type for letting things go.
What's that? Y'all wanna talk about the game? Well gather 'round friends, take a seat, and I'll tell you a tale. Put your feet up by the fire, it's cold outside. You're welcome to share my can of beans, iffn' you'd kindly offer me a strip of that venison there. Thanks, friend.
Goodness gracious, did you see Smyly's breaking stuff tonight? The first three innings went by like *that*. His curveball was rockin', and as good ol' Brian Anderson mentioned, his lower-velocity offspeed pitches allowed him to pump his 91 mph fastball in there at the top of the zone, making it look like it was 95 or 96. In the second, Mike Napoli, former Red Sox crusher and pretty consistent Rays killer chased a fastball up in the zone like it was some kind of Aroldis Chapman heater.
BA also got inordinately excited over a simple popup to the pitcher that Smyly successfully caught, waving everyone off like he owned the mound or something. Anderson basically started squealing "Look at that! He caught it!" like the parent of a T-ball player who remembered to tie his shoes so he wouldn't trip.
Through three innings Smyly had thrown 36 pitches, and picked up five strikeouts. Three of them came on that high 91-92 mph heater up by the eyes that Indians hitters just could not lay off.
Carlos Carrasco, however, was just as good. Unlike Smyly, who has to be crafty with the multiple pitch types that he's collected, Carrasco more often than not can pump 95 or 96 mph anywhere along the plate, and then devastate you with a wipeout slider/curve/slurve/unfair and probably illegal pitch. He doesn't need to be accurate the whole time. Turns out tonight, he totally was. Carrasco lived at the bottom of the zone all night, throwing sliders in the dirt that broke maybe 2 inches before crossing home plate, diving harder than a Man City player in a friendly. After three innings, both pitchers had not allowed a hit, and the game hadn't even reached 40 minutes long.
The Indians Strike First
The fourth inning.
The fourth inning was a comedy of errors, depending on whose side you're on. Rajai Davis hit a grounder that barely skipped off the glove of shortstop Brad Miller, who honestly can't seem to get anything right this season. If he doesn't reach that ball, it skips harmlessly into left field for a single. If he makes the play, all the better. But because it was right in his tragic sweet spot of range the ball ricocheted off of his mitt, careening at an angle that Jennings in left field was not expecting. Nor should he have been expecting it. If Miller doesn't get there this inning might have ended up different, but since he did get there Rajai Davis ended up on second with a leadoff double. Right after that, Jason Kipnis hit a blooper that landed in no-man's land in front of Kiermaier in center. KK did an excellent job of holding the ball to avoid the scoring run right off the bat, but a Lindor grounder brought David home. Mike Napoli, former Red Sox crusher and pretty consistent Rays killer crushed a ball off the wall in left, putting two runners in scoring position.
You ever seen two runners on second and third score on a sac fly a dozen or so yards out of the infield? Carlos Santana popped the ball up into the no man's land (where else?) that sent three Rays rushing towards it like bridesmaids chasing after a wedding bouquet. Logan Forsythe, the one running at the most awkward angle, called off Brandon Guyer. With the speedy Lindor at third, there was barely any time to twist and throw, but Forsythe did so and airmailed the throw over Casali at home. Drew Smyly who was behind the plate "backing up" (I use that term with about as loosely as the English language allows) gave a limp-wristed stab at the ball and missed, letting it careen into the camera well, scoring Napoli. The sac fly that scores two: a Rays specialty. The Rays have trailed in every game they've played in this year.
In the fourth, too, it all went to hell for Carlos Carrasco.
lol jk he allowed a weak groundball to Logan Morrison (!) to lose his perfect game bid. No worries, fella, you'll get 'em next time.
Smyly is still really good for the most part
It's a shame the Rays could barely get anything going because Smyly was really fantastic for the rest of the night. The Human Emoticon pitched all the way to the seventh inning, striking out the player formally known as Juan Uribe for his 11th K of the night. On the whole, he ended up with 2 earned runs (3 runs) allowed, although even that would be too much for the Rays offense to handle.
The "tip your cap" argument usually doesn't hold water for me. The Opening Day effort against Marcus Stroman was an example of an area where that narrative just isn't correct. The Rays defense swung early and often that aftenoon, as they gave Stroman (who is a very good pitcher, let's not deny this) a shiny final line that he may not have deserved.
Carrasco, though, did deserve this W. His stuff was electric, and his breaking ball was nigh unhittable. It's not like this start came out of nowhere; Carrasco did almost no-hit the Rays last year. As if you forgot. Tonight I'm honestly okay with tipping the cap, even as the Miracle Orioles seem to be running away with the division.
The Rays mustered a run in the eighth when Curt Casali, Rays catcher, defied logic by hitting a double and collecting an RBI, scoring the speedy Kiermaier from first. Not only was the no-hitter wrecked, but the shutout too! All in all a banner day for the Rays offense.
The Indians take the second game of the series 4-1 with their scariest pitcher on the hill, and tomorrow the Rays face Danny Salazar. We shall see which Chris Archer shows up tomorrow.
Well look at the time! It seems as though I've been rambling. It's far too dark for you to go anywhere else tonight. Feel free to curl up by the dying embers.
I'll be here when you wake up tomorrow. I haven't moved from this spot since 2008. Seems like I'm going to be sitting down on this hill for a long while.
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