Saturday night’s game against Toronto started off as the Chris Archer show. He twirled 6 straight innings of beautiful shutout baseball and ended up going nearly 8 innings and allowing only 2 earned runs.
But if we’re talking about amazing performances, that’s only half the story for the night. Recently acquired Mallex Smith went 2-2 at the plate with 3 walks. He got on base five times, out of five chances. A perfect night would, by itself, be noteworthy, especially for a young player trying to prove himself on a new team.
The box score shows Mallex had two stolen bases in two steal attempts. And swiping two bags would, by itself, be impressive.
But even the hits, walks and steals don’t fully explain his impact. Looking beyond the box score, we note:
- He legged out a would-be-groundout into a single in the 3rd inning
- He broke up a high leverage double play in the 5th inning
- He drew an errant pick off attempt from Aaron Sanchez in the 7th inning
- He took 3rd base on a wild pitch in the 9th inning.
- If you are ever asked to define the word “distracted,” show a video of Blue Jays reliever Joe Biagini pitching to Dickerson in the 9th, so preoccupied with Smith at first that he seems almost to forget that there’s a batter at the plate (although Dickerson did still manage to strike out.)
Smith’s speed was an absolute spectacle, critical to Tampa Bay’s success last night, and something we haven’t really had since the Carl Crawford days. It’s a game changer in more ways than one. It’s fun to watch, and I’m glad we have that dynamic back on the Rays.