After a full walk-off weekend, the Rays left a bit of a stain in their pants Monday, getting demolished 9-3 by the 53-73 Seattle Mariners. The offense continued to look limp, Brendan McKay had his second straight rough start (and he honestly hasn’t looked great in over a month—when he was likely performing a bit over his head), and the defense had a rare off night.
It’s not too hard to spot the silver linings on Monday night actually, so let’s get those out of the way. Tommy Pham went deep for the second straight day, after having hit only two the previous month before that. Considering there were calls for him to hit the DL as recently as Friday, it’s great to see Pham going yard (and sending one to the warning track in center later in the game).
Austin Meadows also went deep, after having broken an 0-for-18 stretch the at bat before that. Meadows has quietly struggled for a large swath of the season. After reaching his peak OPS of 1.127 on May 29, he had slashed .228/.296/.412 for an OPS of .708 over his past 65 games before last night. The numbers suggest that while Meadows wasn’t the 1.127 OPS guy he was the first two months, he also isn’t the .708 OPS he had been since. If he can even settle into the .868 OPS guy he’s been on the year in total, that would be a huge boon for the Rays.
Of course, even with those two hitting, the lineup looked a bit sketchy. They got only three hits outside those two guys, a double from Travis d’Arnaud in the first (one of the few bats I still trust), a single from Eric Sogard in the second (sure), and a single from Jesus Aguilar (lord of the single) in the eighth. Getting Brandon Lowe, Yandy Diaz, Avisail Garcia (especially for lefties), and to a lesser extent Joey Wendle back in the lineup come September is going to be such a difference maker. We just need to tread water against these mediocre teams we play until then.
Brendan’s final line: 2.0 IP, 3 H, 7 R, 3 ER, 3 BB, 1 K, 2 HR is probably a little harsh, but it’s definitely troubling that after posting a 33:3 K:BB ratio in his first six starts, that number has flipped to 8:9 in his last two. Of course, one of those three walks came on a Classic C.B. Bucknor call, that actually could’ve been a massive double play but was instead incorrectly ruled ball four. Look:
It’s never any use to play the What If Game, but it’s not at all hard to see McKay’s line looking something more like 5 IP 5 ER if that call (the right call...) gets made. Oh well, it’s one start (or two if you drag the last start in), I’m not all that worried yet.
Again, probably not worth dwelling on all that much, but a pair of errors from the middle infield (which has been a stout area of the field all season for the Rays) definitely threw McKay even more out of whack, and put the Rays in a hole there was simply no digging out of. (Speaking of which: Very curious as to why Nick Anderson was used in the seventh inning of a six-run ball game. Would have much preferred to see him double dip Tuesday-Wednesday...)
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That’s 0-for-3 on the three main facets of the sport, so it’s far from shocking that this was a spanking. It’s also not all that surprising that the game played out like it did. Monday just looked primed for a letdown game. In the Tank article I wrote this morning, I hinted at Seattle +185 being a pretty tasty bet for this series opener for all the degenerate gamblers in the house:
Monday’s series opener pits Marco Gonzales against Brendan McKay, and while I won’t do a full Rays Betting Series on it, I wouldn’t mind an emotional hedge given the state of the Rays offense and the heavy bullpen usage over the weekend.
Yup, add in three Mariner home runs, and that’s pretty much how it played out.
We get a battle of the bullpens tomorrow, and then Charlie Morton on getaway day. Let’s salvage the series and move on to the semi-professional team plying its trade in Baltimore for the second half of the week.