So the good news is that this is the perfect time for Blake Snell to learn to pitch successfully at the major league level.
The bad news is that watching him figure it out can be aggravating.
And the worse news is that the Dana Eveland experiment continues. Nonetheless, the Rays held on to defeat the Orioles 7-6.
Lots of early inning runs
The Rays got an early lead off of Yovani Gallardo. He walked the first two batters before yielding a classic three run bomb to our own Mr. Longoria.
But the Orioles came back strong in the bottom of the inning. Even though, as JT Morgan wrote earlier, Baltimore struggles against lefties, they were able to get on the board early against Snell in a 4-run 34 pitch first inning.
The Rays came right back, however. A series of singles — one on a broken bat grounder from Mikie Mahtook that inexplicably went right by Manny Machado— allowed the Rays to tie it at 4. An inning later it was doubles by Miller and Souza Jr. that produced the Rays fifth run.
Gallardo had some good stuff -- and struck out 7 Rays in the first three innings as proof — but the second and third inning runs all involved some bad luck plus some shaky fielding.
Starting pitchers depart
Gallardo’s night ended in the fourth after allowing a double to Logan Forsythe; Tommy Hunter replaced him but gave up softly hit singles to Kiermaier and Longoria, the latter of which scored two more runs, as the Rays took a 7-4 lead. That was the end of the Rays’ scoring.
Snell recovered from the poor first inning to retire the next six batters, and it looked as though he might have the game under control. But things got dicey in the bottom of the fourth. Hardy reached on what looked to be a routine ground ball, but an off line throw by Longoria and a poor scoop attempt by Franklin at first base failed to get an out. Drew Stubbs then flared one to right field with Souza diving for it, catching it briefly but not able to keep it in his glove.
The inning ended, however, with a nifty double play started by Longoria and completed when Franklin nearly did a full split to nab the offline throw, grimacing as he hit the ground. It hurt just to watch. The Longoria and Franklin combo found redemption after a sloppy error, but the play led to Franklin’s leaving the game, as Richie “who?” Shaffer replaced him at first base.
In the bottom of the fifth inning Snell’s mess was his own, as he walked Adam Jones, and then yielded a well struck deep line drive by Jonathan Scoop; the Rays were fortunate that it bounced into the stands for a ground rule double, because otherwise it would surely have scored a run. Now with runners on second and third with none out, Snell recorded a timely strikeout of the dangerous Manny Machado and his night was over, as Brad Boxberger was called in to retire the side.
Orioles come back
Erasmo Ramirez gave the Rays two good if hardly dominant innings — he needed a spectacular KK catch to avoid a run (how spectacular? Kiermaier covered 95.3 feet, running 20.3 mph, with 97% route efficiency).
But then Kevin Cash apparently remembered that he’s playing for a high draft pick, not for a win, and decided to turn the 8th inning over to Dana Eveland. A walk and a deep double later, he was replaced by Danny Farquhar, who did his job — inducing two ground ball outs — but each ground ball scored a run. So at the end of 8 we had a one run game, 7-6. Thanks, Dana.
Although Alex Colome did make it a little too interesting in the bottom of the 9th, he managed to keep that tying run holding at third and nailed down the victory.
- Longoria’s night included a home run and five RBI. Although he was charged with an error, he also turned several tough balls into outs. He’s the man.
- In game interview with Alex Cobb — “no offense to you guys but I got tired of watching games on TV”. He says he’s happy with the fastball right now and the curve ball has been coming along but he’s not thrilled with the change-up.
- Nights like make it hard to believe this team is en route to a 90 loss season (although watching Eveland did remind me how, at least in part, we ended up here). Baltimore is the team fighting for a division title, and yet it was the Rays who had the crisp defense and clutch hitting.