People like to talk about the kind of baseball game they like to watch. I've always suspected that there wasn't much to it, and that generally fans just want to see their team win, but there are many fans who will tell you they want an exciting game with offense. Back-and-forth lead changes are a plus.
Well maybe that means that for the first eight innings, Rays fans were happy tonight.
It started off well enough. Logan Forsythe wrapped his hands around a high fastball and lined it to left field for a single. After Brad Miller Struck out, Longoria sent a grounder up the middle that just made it out of the infield. Forsythe thought about going to third, but correctly decided that was a foolish thought and dove back to second. Then Logan Morrison hit a ground ball to second base, that forced Johnny Giavotella to field it going to his left before pivoting to throw back to second. That was enough to slow down the potential double play, and Morrison hustled down the line while Forsythe advanced to third. Steven Souza Jr. hit another grounder, this time between third base and shortstop. Andrelton Simmons, the best infielder in baseball, got there, but took to long setting his feet, and Souza's speed down the line forced him into rushing a low throw that CJ Cron couldn't scoop. Rays took the lead.
Jake Odorizzi could not hold the lead, however. Cron led off the top of the second inning with a home run (Souza ran hard into the wall chasing it). Then Daniel Nava slapped a single against the shift, and Giavotella lined a high breaking ball the other way to put runners at first and second. Simmons sent a ground ball through the hole to knock in two runs. Nick Franklin misplayed the grounder, allowing runners to advance, and that mattered because Shane Robinson hit a fielder's choice RBI grounder (good play by Forsythe), and Yunel lined a single the other way to put the Angels up 4-1 before Odorizzi got out of the ugly inning.
Down three runs, the Rays offense went to work. In the bottom of the third, with two outs, Logan Morrison took advantage of a bad breaking ball on the outside and pulled it on a line over the right-field wall. Souza hit a high fly ball to the right-center alley, and either Angels fielder could have gotten it, but neither spoke up, and both pulled up. The ball rolled to the wall, and with Souza's speed, that's a triple. If he had been running hard when it looked like it was going to be an out, it would have been an inside-the-park home run. Corey Dickerson hit a swinging bunt down the third base line, and beat the throw, cutting the Angels' lead to one.
Then, two innings later, the Rays retook the lead. Brandon Guyer, who came on for an (injured?) Steven Souza Jr., did a Brandon Guyer thing (he was hit in the leg by a pitch). Dickerson hit a high fly ball the other way that dropped right on the left-field line (Nava was shaded to pull) and bounced into the stands for a ground-rule double. Franklin lined a single to right to score both of them and put the Rays in front.
But once more Odorizzi could not hold the lead. He walked Nava on nine pitches to start the sixth inning, and then presented Giavotella a hanging breaking ball that was smacked to the warning track for a ground-rule double. Then Simmons got on top of a high fastball, grounding it hard down the first-base line for a double of his own. A pair of bunts squeezed in a third run to put the Angels back in front 7-5.
Were you happy? Was that fun baseball? If so, stop now. Alex Colome, fresh off the disabled list (and fresh on the All-Star team) pitched a strong eighth inning, but Enny Romero came in and couldn't hit his location with the broad side of a barn. He gave up a walk, a single, and a home run. Then Dana Eveland came in, and was no better. He gave up a lot of runs. The top of the ninth went on for a long time, and when the dust settled, the score was 13-5.
Some other notes:
- Hank Conger was hit in the hand by a foul from a bunt in the middle innings of the game, and then he was hit very hard just below the shoulder pad by another foul in the ninth inning. Looked pretty painful. Rough night behind the plate physically, but he did a pretty nice job blocking balls in the dirt.
- Mike Trout pinch ran in the ninth inning when Robinson was hit in the foot with a pitch. He eventually scored, obviously.
- The Angels got a lot of their hits by going the other way on pitches that were up and/or away. Easy for me to say, but I think Odorizzi needed to do a better job establishing the inside part of the plate and giving them another location to worry about.
- No word that I've seen yet on whether Steven Souza Jr., who left the game early, is hurt.
- Okay, now there is word.
#Rays Souza admits he was pulled for lack of hustle, said he was "exposed" and "embarrassed" and will do his best to not let it happen again— Marc Topkin (@TBTimes_Rays) July 6, 2016