The Rays gave us something to cheer about on a tough night for Tampa Bay sports fans, whose Lightning ended a great season with a shockingly poor playoff series.
But there is still much baseball to be played this year, and your division-leading Rays continued their division-leading ways with a relatively easy and quick (2 hours, 41 minutes) victory.
Tyler Glasnow did not have his best stuff. In his last start he stuck out 11; tonight he struck out 3. The Orioles attacked him early in the count and managed 7 hits, including several strung together in the first and third innings, accounting for the Orioles two runs.
But nearly all those hits were singles (Renato Núñez had a double, but it was a hard grounder that deflected oddly off of Yandy Diaz). And Glasnow did now allow any walks; when you pitch a “no-walker” you can afford to give up some singles and still suppress runs. Glasnow had some quick innings after yielding those two runs and was able to finish seven innings.
Also, when you are as tall as Glasnow, you’d better be good at ducking:
The Rays offense took a few innings to get going. Dylan Bundy came in with an ERA of over 8.0 but his not very elite stuff seemed to keep the Rays off balance. Dewayne Staats and Brian Anderson were quick to point out Bundy’s weaknesses – essentially, he has meh “stuff” but he’s not crafty – as we watched the Rays provide every variety of pop up you can imagine. (My colleague Brian Menendez notes that Bundy’s pitches have a very high spin rate so pop-ups are a likely outcome).
But second time through the order proved to be the charm. In the bottom of the fourth inning, Pham drew a lead-off walk. Ji-Man Choi pulled a liner over the head of a leaping Trey Mancini at first base, putting runners on second and third and ending Dylan Bundy’s no-hitter, thank goodness. Pham was able to score on Yandy Diaz’s long opposite field sac fly, a tough fly ball chased down by Joey Rickard, who haunts us still. 2-1 Baltimore, with Choi moving to third base with just one out. Brandon Lowe unfortunately struck out, but Avi Garcia decided not to leave any chicken on the bone tonight, coming through with a two-run home run to put the Rays up 3-2.
It was Garcia once again coming through in the bottom of the eighth for the all-important insurance run. Yandy Diaz singled; Brandon Lowe walked, and Garcia stroked a hard RBI single for a 4-2 lead.
On the defensive side, Kevin Cash brought in Jose Alvardo to face the top of the Baltimore line-up in the eighth and it looked something like this:
Diego Castillo closed out the game with a blessedly uneventful ninth inning, and the Rays improved to 13-4 on the year but I know we’re not allowed to be excited about that because it’s early and everyone knows that the Red Sox will catch up with them before you know it.
- Tommy Pham still has his on-base streak going but truth be told he has been slumping a bit, with walks and singles accounting for his time on base, as he is hitting for neither average nor power. However the fact that he manages to get on base every single game is quite impressive – even when he’s not “hot” he still figures out how to contribute.
- Early in the game, rightfielder Avisail Garcia misplayed a single, but Kiermaier was right there backing him up; his quick response and throw made sure that the single didn’t turn into a double and you could see Garcia acknowledging him afterwards. And for the second out of the ninth inning, both Daniel Robertson and Willy Adames appeared to track an infield pop-up. Robertson, however, seemed to lose track of the ball, and Willy quickly shifted over a few steps to grab it; the two exchanged grins afterwards. Good to see the teamwork on plays like these.
Tune in, or, even better (if you are local), head to the Trop tomorrow to see the Rays seek to win yet another series.