At least this game was quick. After a mini-marathon 10 inning game on Monday and a full-on marathon 16 inning game on Tuesday, playing just 9 innings and getting it done in under two and a half hours seemed merciful.
Maybe the Rays were tired, maybe José Ureña, Drew Rucinski, Elieser Hernandez and Brad Ziegler are elite pitchers, whatever it was the Rays offense was dead. They managed four hits (just one, a double, for extra bases) and four walks, but these were spread out across the nine innings. Also, three double plays of various stripes and a caught stealing eliminated several of these base runners. The Rays really never mounted a threat. Indeed, Carlos Gomez, below speaks for us all (and cue all the “that’s the best contact he’s made all year” comments):
We weren't *going* to have fireworks at Marlins Park today... pic.twitter.com/7MQAbkbgXU— Miami Marlins (@Marlins) July 4, 2018
It’s not that the Marlins were crushing the ball either. Their whole offense was on J.T. Riddle, whose triple resulted in two runs (more on that below) , and who added that extra layer of security with an eighth inning home run off of Hunter Wood to give us our 3-0 score.
To me the most noteworthy part of this forgettable game was the five innings pitched by one Ryan Weber, that not only spared the taxed bullpen, but also was pretty good, in fact better than the two-run line would suggest.
First, a confession: Since the Rays signed Weber, a Clearwater Central Catholic product, this off season, I had assumed he was the same Clearwater Central Catholic guy who had pitched for them in 2016. But it turns out the Clearwater Central Catholic guy who pitched in 2016 was Ryan Webb, a totally different guy.
THIS Clearwater Central Catholic grad named Ryan had made just one major league appearance for the Rays; I don’t remember the game but his 27.00 ERA coming into today suggests it wasn’t a great .1 innings.
But today he really did his job. He seems to be a sinker/off speed guy so he generated a lot of weak contact. Even the RBI triple he gave up to J.T. Riddle seemed more like a very high pop up – albeit one to the center field wall! – than like a ball that had been smoked. That it became a triple was at least partly due to some rough Kevin Kiermaier ball handling. And the J.B. Shuck ground ball that would score the second run was almost too soft, so that Robertson’s effort to throw out Riddle at home came in too late (and was with hindsight probably the wrong choice, although Shuck’s getting thrown out on an attempted steal erased the runner put on by the fielder’s choice very quickly). Weber has to my eye an unusual delivery – not side arm but not fully overhead either, a sort of in between arm angle that gives the illusion he is merely playing a friendly game of catch. His final line shows four hits (as noted earlier, none really squared up), one walk and one strike out, alongside eight ground balls.
Given the Rays’ need to have multi-inning relievers, Weber’s results today suggest he has a role here — at least until the next departure of the Durham shuttle.
And let’s note, from the tweet below, that he almost didn’t get word that he was needed in Miami. The takeaway: if you are minor league pitcher in the Rays system, make sure your phone is ALWAYS on.