Remember that feeling of turning on the Rays game and relaxing into your comfy couch/chair/worn out futon? Just sitting back and enjoying this crazy little game? Remember fun?
Yeah, It’s been a while for me too.
For as frustrating as this season has been (and quantifiably so!), I keep coming back, hoping for better results. Well, tonight the Rays tried to make up for a super disappointing home stand and put on a show.
Tampa Bay got off to a quick start on offense (as per usual), and it was Logan Morrison who put the team up early. LoMo continues to be the absolute opposite of everything he was to start 2016.
Corey Dickerson led off the first inning by getting hit by an errant slider from former Devil Ray Jason Hammel, and he then used his newly svelte body to fly from 1st to 3rd on a single from Longo. This set up LoMo to drive home Corey “Big Speeding” Dickerson on a sac fly.
But Logan Morrison doesn’t settle for just sacrifice fly balls. No, keeping it in the park simply would not do. LoMo took a 3rd inning Hammel fastball, and sent it to the moon (but stopped just short thanks to the deep center field wall).
LoMo absolutely destroyed that pitch, and Hammel knew it was gone immediately. Hammel also gives us my favorite reaction of the 2017 season so far: an incredibly polite, ginger toe tap. The physical embodiment of “aw, shoot”.
Rickie Weeks followed that megablast up with a line drive HR of his own. Even with the Rays lead extended to 4-0, I’m pretty sure nobody was feeling super comfortable with that lead. Not this team, not lately.
Cue Corey Dickerson doing more “Big Speeding” things, knocking a line drive triple, scoring Derek Norris from 1st.
The Rays continued to tack on more runs, including a late grand slam from the Amish Paradise himself: Colby Rasmus. It was at this point, 12-0 in the 8th, that I felt fairly comfortable the Rays might just nail this one down.
Of course, Chris Archer did not need nearly that much.
Archer was absolutely tearing through the Royals lineup, notching 11 Ks, walking none, and going 8 dominant, shutout innings. Mike Moustakas had a particularly brutal night trying to make contact, K’ing 3 times and popping up weakly for his non-strikeout out.
A night after the Rays used up their entire pen, Archer’s start was exactly what the team needed. The Royals got a baserunner to 2nd just once. Archer gave the pen (mostly) a night off, and showed off the absolute ace form that he is capable of every time he takes the mound.
And that brings me to the only blemish on an otherwise sterling night for Chris Archer.
In the 7th inning, with a 7-0 lead and Lorenzo Cain at 1st, Archer struck out Eric Hosmer, bringing Salvador Perez to the plate. First pitch, 95 MPH fastball, right into the ribs.
Sal Perez was not happy. The Royals were not happy. Suddenly, Chris Archer who had near perfect control all night lets one “slip”? But, if Archer did plunk Perez, why?
I have been trying to come up with reasons, but I’m drawing a total blank. Dickerson is the only Rays hitter that has been hit by a Royals pitch, but that was clearly an accident.
Archer had said something to Perez as he left the mound in the 5th inning. But exactly what happened, what was said, and what went down to lead to Archer hitting Perez is a mystery.
If Archer did indeed hit Perez on purpose, that was a really dumb decision. I personally detest beanball. I think it’s old school, macho baseball BS that accomplishes nothing. Yet its costs can be devasting, as players can suffer season ending and even life threatening injuries. And for all the risk, it never resolves whatever conflict it is meant to address, as each incident drives the aggrieved team to “even the score”. So teams trade HBP until slap-on-the-wrist suspensions are handed down by the league office, with a stern frowny face.
The Rays will play the Royals again Thursday. The Royals are managed by Ned Yost. If old school, macho baseball BS could take a physical form, it would be the form of Ned Yost.
Let’s hope that after Longo gets plunked as “retribution” the x-rays are negative.