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TB 1, HOU 5: A pitching duel until it wasn’t

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Eovaldi looked great, and then not so great. Morton looked shaky and then not so shaky.

MLB: Tampa Bay Rays at Houston Astros
We are all Wilson Ramos tonight
Shanna Lockwood-USA TODAY Sports

Nathen Eovaldi looked in command, in control, cruising and carving through a dominant Houston lineup. Through the first 5 innings Eovaldi (with just one exception) Eovaldi did not give up a single well struck ball. Evo was getting weak grounders and infield pop-ups from monster hitters.

And then the Astros turned the lineup order for a 3rd time.

Eovaldi and his streak of weak contact ended abruptly. Sure, he had one small speed bump earlier in the night with a poorly located fastball to Jose Altuve who sent a baseball into orbit that will come around in another 74 years. But it wasn’t until the 6th inning, when the Astros saw Eovaldi for a 3rd time, when the fireworks really began.

To three consecutive batters, Eovaldi gave up three straight moonshot HRs: Springer, Bregman, and then Altuve again.

To paraphrase an old joke (hat tip to John Ford): other than those 4 pitches, how was the play, Mr Eovaldi?

Mallex Affecting

The Rays scored their run through a pitch perfect Mallex Affect. It could and should be used as the dictionary definition.

First, Mallex slapped a nice single to right field. First pitch after that, he took off, but Carlos Gomez at the palte fouled the pitch off. Mallex didn’t wait around long though, and was already on the run when Gomez slapped a grounder to Bregman at 3rd.

Second, during this play, as Alex Bregman fields the Gomez grounder and makes the throw to secure the out at 1st, Mallex never stopped running. Yuli Gurriel was affected by this shocking move and airmailed the throw to 3rd wide of Bregman, allowing Mallex to quickly make his way home.

Mallex went 1st to home on a ball that only left the infield when it went sailing into foul territory by an errant throw.

Bauers Impresses

Jake Bauers seems like he’s already a 10 year vet. He’s so shockingly comfortable at the plate and it impresses me every day. Bauers will work a count. He will spit on pitches out of the zone. He will dare you to challenge him. As we have seen so far, many pitchers are choose to avoid that challenge.

He started his night off with a double, and continued to be a pest to Charlie Morton with two walks in his next two plate appearances.

In the field, Jake made a few very athletic stretches and picks at 1st. Often we overlook 1B defense, until there is a mistake. But good glovework at 1B is a joy, and Bauers can bring the leather.

Bauers was also on the lookout for his first stolen base in the bigs. It seemed like he had gotten that first steal in the 5th, when he easily swiped second off of Brian “somehow every play is against the unwritten rules” McCann. However, Wilson Ramos’ backswing made contact with McCann and Bauers was signaled back to 1st base.

Final Thoughts

Overall, the Rays played another competitive game, and an overall very competitive series against the World Series champs. Eovaldi pitched a heck of a game, but ultimately left some juicy pitches once he faced the Stros for the 3rd time, and they didn’t miss.

The Rays continue through their unbelievably brutal month, heading home to the Trop to take on the Yankees.