New York looks like truly a terrible place to live.
I don’t mean the city, because living in The City that Never Sleeps is probably fantastic. Although maybe it is awful, who am I to say, I’m certainly not cool enough to live there. I’m talking about the objectively horrible winters, which apparently can last well into April. People in the Northeast like to convince themselves that their winters aren’t that bad, and that the change in seasons is worth it. These poor folks have developed Stockholm Syndrome, and we are cruel indeed to not do everything we can to forcibly relocate everyone out of New England into warmer weather.
Anyway I’m starting the recap with this little aside about weather because like this climate, I’m bitter about today’s game. I wrote on Twitter today that this young season has felt a little bit like the first half of Moneyball where nothing is going right for the A’s. Moneyball is my favorite baseball movie in part because I know how that story ends, and also because I get to see an actor play Carlos Pena when he’s somehow considered a bit of a villain. With this season, I’m not so sure.
It’s obviously the opening week of the season. Also the weather was bad, as the Rays were far away from the all-consuming, life-giving dome. Just go ahead and assume that I get that, and that all those bet hedges you’re coming up with are ones I’ve already made. Does that make me feel better in the slightest about how the Rays have performed the last couple of days? Absolutely not. I don’t like how a two (or God forbid, a three) run lead feels absolutely insurmountable, especially after the sheer adrenaline high of the 2017 offense. I don’t like looking across the field and seeing the New York Yankees with two of the best power hitters on the planet sitting right next to each other while national media have pounded the Rays for trading away its top performers. Like a small-market team in the AL East needs any more of that kind of attention. It’s a big ol’ bummer. The season is long and things get better. But right now the Offseason From Hell feels like it’s bleeding into the regular season.
And little made me feel worse about the missing home run power this year than watching Didi Gregorius mash a frozen rope to right field. After the Rays scratched, clawed, and lucked their way into a run in the third inning on an error (thanks, Matt Duffy!) Gregorius responded with a three-run shot that made this game feel like a bit of a black hole. This gave the Yankees a 4-1 lead.
A nice little microcosm of the season so far came in the fifth inning. Jordan Montgomery, who had been cruising for a bit, allowed two straight walks to the 8 and 9 hitters: Daniel Robertson and Rob Refsnyder. With the top of the order now up and the best opportunity for the Rays at the plate, Matt Duffy whiffed on the chance. Duffy tried to push a bunt (that sort of says a lot about the season so far on its own), then grounded into a double play. Kevin Kiermaier worked a 3-1 count, then swung at two pitches outside the zone to strike out swinging.
Those things sort of speak for themselves. Remember in 2011 when the Rays started the season 0-6? At least we had Sam Fuld then.
Brian Anderson said that Archer had an “up and down day,” and it is true, because there were some innings where he looked absolutely dominant. In the fourth inning, Archer struck out the side, and also managed to corral Giancarlo Stanton, who thus far is 0-for-9 against Archer. Unfortunately, the Yankees worked his pitch count pretty well, forcing him to do the ol’ five-and-dive before he even reached 100 pitches. Still, eight K’s through five innings ain’t half bad. Archer will always be a HR-prone, high strikeout guy, it’s time we all just came to terms with it.
The sixth inning was a wonderful little surprise. By putting together some dinks and doinks, the Rays strung together four consecutive hits to score a run and load the bases. Down two runs, with two outs and the bases loaded, Denard Span stepped to the plate looking to recapture some Opening Day magic. And you know what? He did!
Span hit basically a carbon copy of his Opening Day double to right field to tie the game at 4-4. Like a fool, I began to believe.
Some people were frustrated by the high K, but high HR offense of last year. One of the best things about that style of offense, however, is that you never truly feel out of any game. The Rays scratched and clawed their way to score three runs in the sixth inning. Didi Gregorius matched that with a single swing of the bat on an 0-2 count.
Although the Yankees had already scored a run on a Duffy error (hey, the Duffman giveth, the Duffman taketh away) this monster blast really put the game out of reach. Gregorius put up 8 RBI today, or about 50% of the total runs the Rays have scored up to this point in the season. The Yankees scored another three runs on a bases loaded walk to Aaron Judge, and a lil’ doinker on a hit to...*checks notes*...Didi Gregorius. So that guy ended up a triple shy of the cycle.
Baseball is great because there’s always another game tomorrow. But sometimes you want to take a break, and I wish that it would take longer than five games for me to feel that way.