Jacob Faria started his major league career working down and away. It’s a prudent approach. Down and away is safe. It gets groundballs. Trust your defense and settle in, rookie. But Leury Garcia slapped a fastball to the hole between shortstop and third, and beat out Tim Beckham’s throw for an infield hit.
Jacob Faria stayed with the plan, mostly staying away from Melky Cabrera. But one changeup snuck high, and Cabrera lifted it to center field. It was a flyout, but maybe not the pitch Faria had wanted. Was he coming apart?
Next up, Jose Abreu knocked an outside fastball through the right side of the infield for an RBI single, and the narrative was all there: some bounces don’t go his way and the rookie folds.
Except that didn’t happen at all. It’s a cliche, but Jacob Faria pitched like someone who has been here before. Despite early trouble with his secondary pitches leaking up and armside, Faria trusted his stuff. The first run of his major league career was followed by the first strikeout of his career when he caught Avisail Garcia looking with a 1-2 changeup on the inside edge of the plate.
Over the next several innings (he seemed completely in control by the fourth) Faria got his offspeed in order. Throughout, he was calm and effective. Occasionally he was dominant, as exemplified by his matchup with Kevan Smith in the second inning. Three fastballs.
Of his 95 pitches, a full 60 were fastballs, and the immediate note is that this is a true four-seam fastball with very little horizontal run but a ton of vertical rise to it. It’s a pitch that Faria should be able to work up in the zone for swinging strikes (it produced 10 tonight).
Off that fastball, Faria worked a mid-80s slider and a low-80s changeup. The changeup seems to be the better pitch but both are workable. He two curves on the night, so that pitch does exist as a fourth option.
When Faria walked the second batter of the seventh inning on four straight pitches, Kevin Cash pulled him before things had a chance to go sour. Faria ended his night with a line of six and a third innings, three hits, five strikeouts, and two walks.
He was good.
Just Enough Offense
Mike Pelfry isn’t an especially good pitcher anymore. It’s debatable whether he ever was. So the Rays will breath a sigh of relief that, while not taking advantage of all their chances, they were able to scrape across enough runs to make Faria’s performance stick.
In the bottom of the third, Evan Longoria hit a grounder into the hole and beat out the infield hit. Logan Morrison saw a fastball in the zone and drove it into the alley for a double. Pelfrey was able to catch Steven Souza Jr. looking, and then walked Colby Rasmus to set up a double play.
But Tim Beckham did not hit the ball on the ground. Instead he lifted a line drive into right. Avisail Garcia bobbled his pickup, and then tried to throw to third. Longoria and Morrison scored, while Beckham and Rasmus ended up at second and third.
On the next play, Daniel Robertson grounded to third base, and while the throw came home in time, Smith’s tag was slow and Rasmus was able to sneak his leg in for the Rays third run.
Sharp appearances from Tommy Hunter, Jose Alvarado, and Jesus Colome made the lead stick.
Some other notes:
- In the bottom of the second inning, Dewayne Staats said about Daniel Robertson, “He’s a bit of a throwback to baseball player days.” This came directly after Robertson got hit on the hand by a pitch, and declined to be checked out by a trainer. My wife asked me what Staats meant, and I really couldn’t come up with anything that wasn’t subtext. The text is nonsensical.
- In the ninth inning, it was quiet enough to hear “Let’s go White Sox” chants. That’s annoying.
- There was a good sequence from the Rays battery in the top of the third. With the speedy Leury Garcia taking big leads off first base, Faria threw over twice. When that didn’t decrease Garcia’s lead, Derek Norris set up on the outside of the plate, half out of his crouch, and Faria hit his mitt with a fastball. It was a competitive pitch that was as good as a pitchout. It went for a strike, Garcia was running, and Norris threw him out.