The Rays lost a game they really needed to win and fell back below the .500 mark. But there are bigger things you should be cursing about than losing to White Sox, or the fact that our bottom five in the lineup for a supposedly meaningful September game went Puello-Bourjos-Hechavarria-Sucre-Espinosa.
No, the real panic move last night was that Chris Archer only threw eight pitches before leaving the game. His fastballs didn’t tick over 92 mph, and two of them left the yard—solo jacks into the right field seats by Alen Hanson (really???!!!???) and Yolmer Sanchez.
For his final pitch of the night, Archer did manage to crank it up to 96. But he also spiked that pitch into the dirt, and immediately began waving for the training staff. His night was over. Word after the game: “elbow tightness.”
Is it serious? Well, we were told him coming out of the game was “precautionary,” whatever that means. Because the truth is, problems with elbows on pitchers are scary no matter how “precautionary,” but it’s going to take some time before we know exactly how scary. On the worry scale, this ranges everywhere from a nothingburger to TJS.
So go ahead and panic a little if it makes you feel better. Or just give up on the season. Whatever helps you get through the cold, dark times of a September slipping away.
Wait there’s still a game?
Yes, Virginia, there was a baseball game. A really, really wet baseball game, with a two-hour rain delay in the middle. A surprisingly competitive baseball game for a team rolling out a B-team lineup, on a night when their ace went down.
Give the boys credit for one thing: they never quit, even though they had every right to. That attitude paid off most of the night (but not all night, obviously, because we still lost), beginning in the third when the Rays cut the early 2-0 deficit in the half with little more than the heart and legs of Kevin Kiermaier.
Avisaíl García gets the Kevin Kiermaier experience
The inning started with a very normal looking single to right. The only person who didn’t think it was a single was, of course, our hero, Kevin Kiermaier. Kevin picked the pocket of right fielder Avisaíl García, straight up stealing second base from him.
Then, after a Souza walk, he followed that up by swiping third base off White Sox starter Carlos Rodón, with Souza trailing into second. And KK capped off a fun trip around the bases by again testing García on Evan Longoria’s shallow fly to right. This time, Garcia wasn’t surprised, and his throw beat KK to the plate. But the baseball gods rewarded KK’s—uh, intestinal fortitude—and the ball skipped off the tip of Narvaez glove. KK scores.
As for the bullpen, they had a good night for the most part. Austin Pruitt came on right after the Archer injury. He kept the Rays in the game, recording 11 outs and working into the fourth inning by scattering four hits while striking out three. The only blemish was yet another solo shot in the fourth, this one by Omar Narvaez.
After the rain, Boxy came on to finish the inning, and also pitched the fifth. He got four outs, all on Ks, while giving up just one hit. He looked good. But still:
3-1 White Sox
In the meantime
The Rays cut the lead to one again in the sixth, when Logan Morrison ambushed a Carson Fulmer first pitch fastball and hit his 35th dinger of the season. Woo!
3-2 White Sox
Romo got five outs and was charged with a run. His walk problem resurfaced a little, and though he worked around that trouble in the sixth inning. He also retired the first two batters he faced in the seventh inning before surrendering a single to Yolmer Sanchez and the ball to flamethrower Ryne Stanek, who was supposed to keep this a one run game. It didn’t work out that way, as Avisail Garcia atoned for some of his defensive lapses by turning around a 100 mph fastball into the popular destination of those seats in right.
5-2 White Sox
One more rally
Did I mention the Rays didn’t quit?
In the eighth, against old friend Danny Farquhar, the Rays put together a two-out rally thanks to a double from Peter Bourjos and a run-scoring single from Adeiny Hechavarria to pull the Rays within two.
5-3 White Sox
In the ninth, the Rays loaded the bases against Juan Minaya on a Danny Espinosa hit-by-pitch and singles for Kiermaier and Steven Souza Jr. Bases loaded, pitcher on the ropes, and up stepped Evan Longoria.
It was at that exact point that baseball gods turned on us with a vengeance. Evan hit into a (run scoring) near 5-4-3 triple play, barely beating out Hanson’s throw to first with an assist from a maybe-violated-the-slide-rule slide from Souza.
5-4 White Sox
Evan Longoria then took second on a weird case of defensive indifference. An alert baseball god would have struck down the White Sox for allowing the tying run to move into scoring position unchallenged. But the BBGs had better things to do, and Logan Morrison struck out swinging on high fastballs to end the game, and maybe the season.
- During KK’s wild ride around the bases in the third, the ball that skipped off Narvaez may or may not have hit the ball boy, which might or might have prevented the ball from going out of play, and is the ball boy part of the field anyway? I’m not sure, but the Rays challenged the play in hopes that Souza would be awarded home. After review, the call on the field “stood” and Souza ended up being stranded at third. But I’d love an explanation on what the challenge and rules actually are. However, it’s 2 a.m. as I write this, and I don’t care that much.
- Sunday’s postmortem game features the return to the rotation for Matt Andriese as he faces off against Lucas Giolitto. Game time is at 2:10 p.m.