James Shields walked five of the first ten hitters he faced. The Rays loaded the bases in each of the first two innings. They didn’t score in either.
That’s not good!
The first inning featured one-out walks from Kevin Kiermaier and Carlos Gomez. C.J. Cron grounded to first to move the runners up, in front of yet another walk, this one to Joey Wendle. Unfortunately, Matt Duffy fanned on four pitches, swinging over a nasty curve from Shields for strike three.
The second inning was the one that really hurt.
Mallex Smith walked and Adieny Hechavaria singled to start the inning, and Jesus Sucre sacrificed them up a bag for Denard Span. But before Span got a chance to drive Smith in from third, Shield got Mallex wandering too far from the bag and picked him off. The putout went 1-5-2, with Hech moving up to third on the play.
Shields then walked Span to put runners at the corners, but KK lined out to left to end the threat.
For his part, Yonny Chirinos made bullpen day feel very un-bullpeny, at least in the beginning. Though he was on a 70-75 pitch limit, he danced his way into the sixth on equal parts stuff, command, and moxie. The righthander left a few pitches up in the zone, but of his 75 pitches, 49 went for strikes.
He was especially impressive wriggling out of a bases loaded jam in the third. A single to Omar Navarez and a walk to Adam Engel started the trouble, but Chirinos appeared to right the ship with back-to-back swinging Ks of Yoan Moncada and Avisail Garcia. But an unfortunate splitter went awry and plunked Jose Abreu to load the bases for the dangerous Matt Davidson. Young Chirinos showed poise in setting down Davidson on five pitches, the last a 97 mph sinker on the corner.
He also showed some nifty footwork in picking off Tim Anderson to end the fourth.
Yonny picks Tim Anderson off at first pic.twitter.com/S4aTf74nhD— DRaysBay (@draysbay) April 11, 2018
Anderson was initially ruled safe, but a smart challenge from Cash got the call overturned.
The Rays finally got on the board in the fifth. With two outs, C.J. Cron just missed hitting one out to center, settling for a double off the wall. Kiermaier, who had singled earlier, was running all the way and scored from first easily.
C.J. Cron blasts a double to deep center, bringing home Kevin Kiermaier for the first run of the day! Watch the @RaysBaseball and the White Sox finish up their series live now on FOX Sports Sun and FOX Sports Go! #RaysUp #MLB pic.twitter.com/c8kufwxZEx— FOX Sports Florida (@FOXSportsFL) April 11, 2018
Unfortunately, that would be all the scoring for Tampa Bay.
The White Sox threatened again in the sixth. Garcia led off the inning with a double, then moved to third on a screaming drive to center by Abreu that Kevin Kiermaier was able to run down. That would be it Chirinos. 5 1⁄3 innings, 4 hits, a walk, and 5 strikeouts. Cash called on the lefty Jose Alvarado.
Davidson was again the victim in a huge strikeout, as Alvarado got him looking at a 2-2 curve. A walk to Delmonico followed, after which Alvarado finished working out of the spot by getting Yolmer Sanchez to ground into a force. The shutout was intact.
But it’s really hard to win a 1-0 game. Especially when your defense lets you down.
With no Romo or Colome on the day, Cash hoped to squeeze an extra frame out of Alvarado. And things started out promising enough: a strikeout of Tim Anderson. Omar Navarez then lifted an easy pop to Mallex Smith in left for what should have been the second out.
Should have been.
Mallex dropped the ball. Just whiffed on it. Then, to compound matters, his throw to second was into right field. By the time the Little League play was over, Mallex was charged with a double error and Navarez was standing on third.
Cash called on the mound-shifting Chaz Roe and his Ultimate Frisbees to try and bail out his left fielder.
On the 1-1 pitch to Leury Garcia, Roe let go of a ridiculous back-foot slider that broke probably three feet. But for some odd reason, the White Sox had put the squeeze play on. With Garcia squared around, he just managed to get the bat pulled back, and the back-foot slider nailed Garcia ... well, right in the back foot.
First and third, one out for Yoan Moncada.
Roe again unleashed a silly slider, and the Sox again tried to put on the squeeze play. Unfortunately for Navarez on third, Moncada thought better of trying to bunt the Frisbee, and got his teammate picked off 2-5. A couple absurd sliders later, and Roe was out of the jam.
But even with the heroic bullpen efforts, one thing the Mallex Defect had done is moved up the timeline for everyone. And so it was that in the eighth of a 1-0 game, Kevin Cash called on Austin Pruitt.
Pruitt got Garcia swinging on a 3-2 slider to start the inning, but gave up a blistering single to left to Jose Abreu after an eight pitch at bat.
That brought up the two-time goat on the day so far, Matt Davidson. Davidson came through this time, hammering a 1-1 changeup from Pruitt out to center.
The Rays got a brief chance in the ninth, but wasted it with impatience. Nate Jones was extremely wild, walking Matt Duffy on five pitches, two of which nearly decapitated him. He then fell behind Mallex Smith, but was bailed out by 1) a gift strike one call, and 2) Mallex striking out swinging at ball four. Hech followed, chasing three pitches that weren’t close, and Sucre grounded out.
Next up: The Rays travel home to host the Philadelphia Phillies at 7:10 PM on Friday.