Minneapolis — Through the first half of the 2018 season, Blake Snell and Nathan Eovaldi have been nearly un-hittable. Snell was 12-4 with a 2.09 ERA coming into last night’s game. Eovaldi, tonight’s starter, has made three starts (of eight) this season of at least six innings pitched and one hit (or fewer).
But for whatever reason, they both did not to have it on consecutive nights. Snell was chased early last night giving up three runs in three innings on 75 pitches. Then tonight, the Twins rapped four runs off Eovaldi in the first inning thanks to four singles and a triple, then four more in the third inning, capped by a 3-run big fly by Joe Mauer.
Eovaldi’s command was off from the get-go, evidenced by him throwing 54 pitches to record the first seven outs.
“I just have to do a better job of making my pitches. I felt like all the pitches that they hit were pretty much right down the middle,” Eovaldi said. “If it wasn’t in a hitters count, I wasn’t executing my pitches. I had a couple times I was ahead of the count and the splitters went down the middle. I didn’t do a very good job of executing.”
Heading into tonight’s game, the Rays right-hander had allowed 2 runs through his last 19 innings heading into the game.
“It’s definitely frustrating. Based on the last start I had, I felt like I was making good ground to everything and tonight I couldn’t locate. The cutter was missing down the middle and same with the fastball. I didn’t make the big pitches when I needed to.”
His final line: 2.2 IP, 9 H, 8 ER, 2 BB, 1 K, 65 pitches, 45 strikes.
At 2.2 innings, the outing was his shortest start since August 10, 2016. The nine hits was a season high, and most since June 8, 2016.
With teams likely making calls on him, especially given the razor thin starting pitching market, it’s fair to suggest the ugly outing decreased his value. There’s a lot riding on his next start, which could determine whether the Rays can get something of actual value in return in a trade.
To think these Rays were going to fold down 8-1 would be foolish.
Jake Bauers, Wilson Ramos, and Joey Wendle led off the top of the fourth with three straight hits off Twins starter Jake Odorizzi, cutting the deficit to six.
Andrew Kittredge had a 1-2-3 bottom half. Then the offense started the fifth the exact same way as the fourth, but instead of an rbi-single as the third hit of the inning, it was a 407-foot three-run dinger to right center for Jake Bauers.
This was a redemption moment for Bauers, whose home run earlier in the game was overturned into a ground-rule double after replay.
“I got some curls and push ups in, and got the next one out.”
What’s the story behind the weight-lifting approach?
“Earlier in the year, Mallex’s home run got overturned so he came in and starting doing push-ups. He hit one a couple days later so once I came around and scored (from the double),” Bauers explained, “I came into the dugout and Mallex brought up some dumbbells for me and was telling me to knock out some different workouts. So credit to him on that home run.”
Odorizzi got Wilson Ramos to ground out the next at bat, but 4.1 innings would be all he would last. It was his third shortest start of the season, allowing a season-high eight hits and his 16th home run of the season (tied for 15th most in the AL among pitchers with at least 18 starts).
A few batters later, CJ Cron doubled off the right field wall to score Joey Wendle (who was HBP a batter earlier) from first.
Deficit cut to two, and we have a ballgame.
Kittredge shot another zero in the bottom of the fifth. Subsequently, Adeiny Hechavarria singled to open up the 6th. After a Kiermaier groundout to move him to second, Matt Duffy sliced a fastball down the right field line to score Hechy.
Deficit cut to one.
But that would be all the Rays get
The Twins punched back with two runs in the bottom half of the sixth; one off Kittredge and the other off Ryan Yarbrough.
Toss in another run on the Twins half of the scoreboard, add a mammoth 420-foot shot off the flagpole by Joey Wendle (that hit the flagpole!!!), and we have a final score of 11-8.
Playing from behind has not been something the Rays have had to deal with much of the season. The offense did a fine job battling back, as seven runs should be enough to win a ball game, but an 8-1 deficit proved too much to overcome.
Give the Twins credit for keeping their foot on the gas, picking up three important insurance runs after the Rays valiant comeback effort.
“If we score eight runs or more, we’re going to win more games than not. But it was just too little, too late.”
- The Twins have now won won eight of their last nine games.
- Jake Cave (3-for-4) extended his current hitting streak to eight games with an RBI single in the first.
- Brian Dozier (1-for-4) recorded his 200th career-double and 19th of the season to extend his hitting streak to eight games. He’s hitting .354 (11-for-31) with three home runs and nine RBI over the streak.
- The Rays drop to 5-16 in their last 21 road games and 22-29 on the road overall.
- Nathan Eovaldi’s 2.2 IP were the fewest of any start since August 10, 2016. The nine hits was a season high, and his most since June 8, 2016.
- This was only the Rays second loss in 32 games where they score at least five runs.