The bad thing about West Coast road trips is that if the Rays do well, you probably didn't get to see the game. The good thing about West Coast road trips is that if the Rays do poorly, you probably didn't get to see the game. Now that I've covered all my bases and used a baseball pun to boot, let's start with the recap.
Archer continued his early inning struggles with the pitch count. Although he didn't give up a hit until the third inning, Archer ran up the count in the first, throwing 29 pitches. Encouragingly, many of the pitches were pretty close, painting the corners on a strike zone that home plate ump Rob Drake managed to keep tight, perhaps too tight.
I love linking to these tweets. They're always so helpful. To be perfectly fair, Curt Casali absolutely whiffed on this ball, allowing it to skitter to the backstop and pushing the runner into scoring position. Nothing came out of it, though.
In the top of the third, Longoria stepped up to the plate with Mikie Mahtook on base. The hot-hitting Longoria smacked a high fly ball to the center-right power alley and made a bid for at least a double, but Michael Bourn came out of nowhere to keep the game scoreless. Check out this great grab:
For a good couple of hours or so, MLB.com wouldn't let me share this amazing video with you. Is it because it's some kind of goddamn secret launch code for the secret nuclear missiles Manfred has stashed under all the MLB parks? Why the hell wouldn't a sports organization want to make sure that as many people as possible could see their sports plays? Do you think MLB is having trouble getting young people interested in the game?
With Archer this year, you know it's only a matter of time until he allows a home run. You just hope it will not be a home run to the opposing team's pitcher.
Also kind of a bummer that the pitcher's name is also the name of your team. Archer would allow another run on a Goldy RBI double to put the Rays behind 2-0.
But the Rays struck back, like some sort of venomous snake.
6 Rays players in the starting lineup opened the game batting below .200. 5 of them are paid to be professional major league hitters. Yet they provided the most noise and the bulk of the offense of the night, collecting 9 hits, 3 walks, 2 HR's and all 6 RBI of the game. With two outs and no one on in the fourth, this Lineup of Misfit Toys pulled together a nice little rally. Three consecutive singles by Jennings, Motter, and Casali cut the D'backs lead in half. Chris Archer totally choked by striking out with the bases loaded though. He's no Madison Bumgarner or Robbie Ray, apparently.
The real damage came in the fifth. Mikie Mahtook, who put together a very nice little multi-hit game wrecked a ball for a double, and Tim Beckham immediately drove him in with a monster shot to left for a home run.
They weren't done. The two hottest hitters on the team, Evan Longoria and Logan Morrison both drew back-to-back walks with nary an out recorded. Desmond Jennings, instead of rolling over like some sort of furry four-legged house pet, hit a ground rule double to score another run. Taylor Motter drove in the fifth run with a sac fly, and all of a sudden Chris Archer had a 5-2 lead to work with.
To his credit, Archer's stuff was on point tonight. Despite allowing hits and home runs, Archer still made a fool of D'backs hitting. In the fifth inning, he had retired the last eight outs (and ten of the last eleven) via the strikeout. He still had trouble with the long ball (he gave up another homer in the sixth) and the free pass, allowing three walks, but the slider might have had the most movement on the season. All in all, Archer struck out 12 batters in six innings. He struck out every player at least once except for...Robbie frickin' Ray.
Desmond Jennings launched a home run that hit the
foul fair pole to retake the three-run lead. It was well-needed, as as soon as Archer was removed the Rays Bullpen Experience (TM) began. Tyler Sturdevant allowed a hit to lead off the inning, and with two outs he hit Goldy to put the tying run at the plate. Cash, with basically no options, went to Enny Romero, who walked two straight batters pretty much immediately, pushing home a run. I cannot imagine how little confidence Enny Romero has in himself right now. Not even his fastball (which is no longer as fast as it was in the beginning of the season) is working right.
The D'backs called to Brandon Drury, a right-handed hitter who apparently loves lefties. After working him to a 2-2 count (keeping Casali on his toes the whole way there), Cedeno unleashed an impossible curveball that Drury swung through to leave the bases loaded. The Rays lead was cut to 6-4, but the Rays lead remained.
Cedeno stayed in for the eighth. He allowed a little doinker of a hit that just skirted over the head of a diving Tim Beckham, but otherwise was excellent, sticking with his sweeping curveball to fool D'backs hitters.
Colome came on for the ninth. El Caballo avoided getting snakebit, pumping the zone with fastballs that reached 97 mph at one point. He's good, and he didn't allow anything but easy groundballs. Hooray for the 2016 Rays All-Star representative!
Did you notice that in the first paragraph I used the word "let's?" Isn't that sort of odd, when you think about it? I'm using the word "let's" to suggest a sense of familiarity here, as well as create the illusion that this recap is a two-way street. But it's not. I control the little voice in your head. I wrote these words, and through the magic of the human brain you're hearing them now. Purple cactus. God's eye seashells. Evan Longoria Hall of Fame. You can't stop.
Neither can the Rays, at least for now.