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TB 1, BOS 2: Game of Inches

The slow slough of another 1 run loss

Boston Red Sox and the Tampa Bay Rays Photo by Joseph Garnett Jr./Getty Images

Stop me if you have heard this one before: Rays get a good pitching performance, but bats fall silent, and poor luck and bad calls lead to a tough loss. The Rays are now 8-19 in one-run games in 2016, which goes a long way to understanding why they now sit 20 games below .500.

While Archer did struggle to limit his pitches per at-bat, and his control still wasn’t perfect, tonight also showed more signs of the “good”, swinging strike and weak contact inducing Chris Archer. And when the team is sitting 20 games below .500, encouraging signs for next year are like drops of water in the desert.

In the 3rd inning, the most 2016 Rays-type play happened. Mookie Betts hit a tall chopper that just makes it past Brad Miller’s stretched glove. The ball landed fair still on the infield dirt, but found it’s way to the outfield. As David Ortiz lumbered around the bases like a man trying to reach the last metro after a long night out, Steven Souza unleashed a decent throw that went a bit wide of 3rd, bouncing out of reach with no Rays backing up the play. This simple 2-out chopper with a very slow runner ends up being a run scored by the Sawx. Isn’t baseball fun?

Archer’s last jam of the night came in the 5th, with 2-on and 1-out and the big man who hates bullpen phones at the plate. With his pitch count well over 100 pitches, Archer showed off some nice resolve, breaking off a slider to get Ortiz to ground out to Brad Miller at first, to start a very smooth 3-6-3 doubleplay to escape the inning and close the book on his night.

The Rays got on the board with a beautifully struck double to the wall from Kevin Kiermaier, scoring Corey Dickerson.

Evan Longoria came to the plate next, striking out looking on two pitches that were just off the plate. Longoria was less than pleased with the call, and he wasn’t the only Rays hitter that had issues with the strikezone tonight. Souza and Miller also had words after they both struck-out looking on balls that looked just off the plate .

Now, I hate to have to whine about bad calls and inconsistent strikezones. However: home plate ump Ron Kupla’s zone tonight really makes me pine for the future where robot umps manage home plate with a cold, calculating, but fair metal hand.

Kupla K plot vs RHH
Kulpa K Plot vs LHH

The Rays had another glimmer of hope in the 8th. Kevin Kiermaier again with the bat, lacing a double down the the right field line. KK has wheels and with 1-out in a 1 run game, he was going to make Mookie Betts earn it to get him out at 3rd. Well, Betts put a laser throw on the money to get KK by a hair.

One run scored by the Red Sox on a RF throw that bounces wide, one run opportunity erased for the Rays by a RF throw on the mark.

A game of inches.