I knew when I agreed last week to recap this game that I could be writing about either the most or least significant game of the year.
Happily it’s insignificant, with the Rays clinching already on Friday, although a shot for a home game on Wednesday might have been nice.
I started out taking notes for a traditional inning by inning recap but midway through I realized this was a little like recapping a Spring Training game. The score meant little, the starting players were largely gone by the 6th inning, we saw six Rays pitchers, and the main point was to work on stuff and not get injured.
Sure as fans we would have liked to see them come out with the win. Getting to 97 wins and tying the 2008 team would have been nice, but not very important. Ending the season on a high note has its benefits, but winning 96 games and going to the postseason is already pretty sweet.
So here are some random thoughts about what we saw today and whether it has any real significance:
- The one thing that the Rays and their fans were eager to see was Blake Snell’s performance. Snell came back from surgery and has now pitched three times: the first was great, the second was terrible, and then today was somewhere in between. He allowed three hits, two walks and two runs; he struck out four. But he only lasted 2.1 innings which took him 62 pitches.
- In the fourth inning, Avisail Garcia doubled on a liner to left that was almost comically misplayed by Teoscar Hernandez (this guy crushed the Rays at the plate so it’s not as though he had a bad day). I expected to see Garcia racing around second trying for a triple, but instead there he was sort of walking to second. I realized, after a moment, that of course he wasn’t going all out; how bad would it be for a key player like Garcia to get injured legging out an extra base hit in a meaningless game with the postseason looming?
- Kevin Kiermaier, however, didn’t seem to get the “take it easy” memo:
Kevin Kiermaier is nuts. What a play. pic.twitter.com/mQSECOcgqF— Josh Tolentino (@JCTSports) September 29, 2019
I really don’t know whether to applaud him for that “every day I’m hustling” attitude or condemn him for taking such a risk.
- Johnny Davis is probably one guy on the field today who is auditioning for a Wild Card roster spot. The Rays need to figure out whether his potential deficits in many aspects of the game are too glaring to keep him around for his speed. Pinch running for Adames, he ran on contact when Yandy Diaz lined into the outfield, and was just passing second base when the ball was caught. He quickly turned and headed back to first, but apparently never touched second base along the way and was therefore called out. Not how you want audition for your playoff pinch runner role! Otherwise, his performance was undistinguished; he didn’t have all that much work in centerfield but covered his ground well, and he didn’t get any hits but did make contact twice (and also struck out a few times).
- A good day to try something new(ish): we saw Perez at first and Wendle playing right field.
- We saw a lot of Rays pitchers — pretty much a list of guys who will definitely not be pitching on Wednesday - and no one was stellar (although McKay and Roe didn’t allow any base runners for their respective .2 and .1 innings). Chirinos, Banda and deLeon all got hit, with Chirinos turning a 2-1 game into a blow out by allowing two home runs.
- In case anyone is feeling the urge to think this loss is significant I would note that the Athletics also lost today, 3-1, to the Mariners.
OK, that was the tune up. The team flies to Oakland and has two days to get acclimated before facing the Athletics Wednesday night at 8pm.