Nothing made sense about Game 1 of this series against Cleveland. The Rays Opener Diego Castillo lasted longer than one of the favorites for the 2018 Cy Young Award. The Rays knocked out Corey Kluber in the 2nd inning.
That was not supposed to happen.
And then the Rays, normally great bullpen, was not quite as sharp. Starting with the Bulk Guy Jalen Beeks. Beeker made some good pitches in key spots, but he wasn’t the normally fairly sharp pitcher we have all come to expect. It’s okay, because this Rays bullpen has been money all year. Also money, usually, the Rays defense. Well, again, not last night, with some minor mistakes, and plays just missed leading to multiple runs.
That was also not supposed to happen.
And then the Cleveland baseball club’s very, very good bullpen basically struck out the Rays for most of the rest of the game. Brad Hand, the former great Closer for the San Diego Padres and current great relief ace in Cleveland came in shut the door. After a tough, close at bat from Tommy Pham and a dribble seeing eye single the other way to survive with two outs, it was up to a lefty on lefty matchup. Ji-Man Choi vs Brad Hand. All Star vs the guy the Rays traded Brad Miller for.
The Rays now have the same record as the Braves and Mariners and have a better record than the entire NL West— Cespedes Family BBQ (@CespedesBBQ) September 11, 2018
None of this was supposed to happen.
- Thanks to *gestures wildly to everything above* the Rays have now won 12 straight games at home, setting a franchise record.
- Rays Radio has a bunch of good post game interviews from a wild night at the Trop:
- Jake Bauers got his first HR since August 1st, and it was a big one off of perennial Cy Young candidate Corey Kluber (helping knock the Klubot out of service in just the 2nd inning).
- Carlos Gomez is (and continues to be) a delight.
- Speaking of delight, enjoy this series of videos of Ji-Man Choi playing with Sergio Romo’s dog Chuco.
- The Tampa Bay Lightning joined the Rays for some pre-game fun at the Trop. The Rays and Bolts are a lifelong friendship that I am very much here for.
- Kevin Kiermaier missed Game 1 against Cleveland with an undisclosed illness, which has been the only thing slowing him down lately. He was MLB.com’s Rays selection for their 30 teams and 30 players who are better than their 2018 numbers.
- Today the Rays will face off with a familiar face but in a new place, as Josh Donaldson is set to make his Cleveland debut.
Around the League:
- A huge portion of the success of the Rays season has to go to their bullpen. Of course, the reason the Rays are still on the outside looking in for the postseason is that the Oakland A’s have out “magic’d” the Rays in 2018, and that includes their pen. What’s so unexpected is that A’s bullpen has done a full 180 degree turn around, and have the largest improvement in a bullpen in recent history (beating out the huge leap the 2007 Devil Rays pen to the 2008 Rays pen).
- SPeaking of the Athletics, David Laurilla of Fangraphs has another tremendous interview, this time with A’s Assistant GM David Kantrovitz.
- Justin Verlander made his emotional return to Detroit.