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TB 6, CLE 4: Rays Dig the Long Ball

Rays surge back to the top of the AL HR leaderboards with a 5 HR night.

MLB: Tampa Bay Rays at Cleveland Indians David Richard-USA TODAY Sports

Here’s a fun fact to start this recap: half of the Rays hits tonight left the ballpark.

Now you mix that with some good defense, solid pitching, and clean innings from the bullpen, and you’ve got a stew winning formula.

Danny Salazar started the game for Cleveland, and he pitched a really strange game. His final line was: 5 IP, 5 ER, 6 H, 2 BB, with 4 HRs given up. But he also notched 9 Ks. Salazar actually pitched pretty well. Early on, he was carving through Rays batters.

LoMo and Souza both struck out to lead off the 2nd inning, Salazar’s 3rd and 4th K of his first 5 batters faced. Then came the 6th batter.

Bombs Away!

Much like his Amish brethren, Colby Rasmus did some early work, sending a solo shot to put the Rays on the board. The very next inning, Derek Norris and Corey Dickerson would keep the fireworks show going with solo shots of their own back-to-back.

On the subject of Corey Dickerson: I know the All Star Game doesn’t really matter, and like all All Star Games is just a popularity contest. But please everybody, vote early and vote often for the big swinging Corey Dickerson. He deserves a spot in the midsummer classic.

Dickerson hit a nice HR in the 3rd inning, but it was his 2nd HR of the night that was the rainmaker.

What a majestic blast.

Not to be outdone, Tim Beckham decided to take this home run thing one step further: hit a HR with a runner on. Oh and hit it to deep left-center, above the tall wall.

Odo 5 strong innings, 1 not so hot

The beneficiary of these bombs was Jake Odorizzi. Odo pitched a very smooth, fairly comfortable 5 innings. Through those first 5, Odorizzi had given up just 1 run on 4 hits, with 4 Ks. The came a rough 6th.

The first five Cleveland batters were able to hit Odo, and some quite hard. After singles from Lindor and Brantley, Carlos Santana smoked a sharp ground ball that seemed destined to go down the line for extras. That destiny was denied by a fantastic dive by Logan Morrison.

Odorizzi would not escape big damage, however, as Edwin Encarnacion sent an 87 MPH cutter over the wall. This would be as close as Cleveland would get.

Is Alvarado for Real?

Jose Alvarado got the call to start the 7th inning with a 6-4 lead to defend. Alvarado was pitching in Double-A a month ago. Last year he was not past High-A. He had serious command and control issue, with a BB% over 16%.

That is not the Alvarado we have seen this year.

In a very small 2017 AA sample, Alvarado had reduced his BB% to 11.9%. So far in 7 plus innings in the majors, Alvarado has yet to issue a walk. In our writers room Slack chat during the game, Nomo and I were discussing how he hasn’t really looked like that wild of a pitcher. His command of his 98+ MPH fastball has been good, and he’s broken off some very nice breaking balls for strikes. This guy looks shockingly comfortable for somebody so young and so inexperienced.

In a match-up against Cleveland’s top prospect, Bradley Zimmer, Alvarado absolutely dominated, throwing a high fastball at 98 MPH for a strike, and the throwing three breaking-balls to get the K. Zimmer finished his big league debut with 3 Ks.

Jose Alvarado pitched 2 perfect innings, recording one K and bridging the gap to Colome in the 9th.

Colome notched his 10th save, and the Rays brought their win total to 20.