ST. PETERSBURG. I don’t know quite what to say about this game. The Rays lost a game that we sure wish they’d have won.
Their pitching wasn’t elite but it wasn’t terrible either. Starter Trevor Richards pretty much did his job. We saw several of the Rays b-list relievers and they were OK.
Outside one two run home run early in the game, no one bothered to hit, however. It’s hard to win without offense.
The first few innings looked promising. Richards had good control and limited Orioles to some scattered soft singles.
The Rays drew a walk each of the first three innings, but could not put bat effectively to ball.
The Rays finally broke through in the fourth. Pham singled – 109 mph and wow was that loud. And his smoothie partner Travis d’Arnaud was good enough not to leave him hanging, driving him in with a home run to dead center to put the Rays up 2-0.
With Trevor Richards successfully controlling the zone (he walked none in his five innings and his hits were largely soft contact knocks) it seemed like that could be enough for this game. But the very next inning, suddenly, it wasn’t. Richards gave up another forgettable bloop single to put a runner on, but that was, in this case, followed by followed by a home run from Rio Riuz, and the score was tied, 2-2.
Speaking after the game, Richards said he was largely pleased with his performance. “I left one pitch up,” he said, a change-up, and that mistake was hit out of the park. Cash was “very encouraged” by the outing.
After the fifth the Rays pitched a succession of relievers — Oliver Drake, Pete Fairbanks, and Hoby Milner. The difference in the game was the home run Drake gave up to Anthony Santander in the sixth, and then the coup de grace, a fourth Orioles run in the top of the ninth, on a single and then a run-scoring pinch hit double by Mark Trumbo, who I seem to remember did something similar in yesterday’s game. Pham briefly bobbled the ball in the corner, which eliminated any possibility of a play at the plate.
Rays simply couldn’t get their offense going; other than the d’Arnaud home run they scattered singles and walks, with two double plays also serving to kill potential rallies (they also turned two double plays, which helped Richards out in the early innings).
Asked whether he thought the team was “low energy,” Cash pushed back. “We had energy, we just didn’t get hits”, he said. He credited Baltimore pitchers for keeping the team from getting good swings (funny that those pitchers, all with four-plus ERAs, don’t seem to have that ability most of the time). “We didn’t get the big hit”.
For game two, Andrew Kittredge will be opening as Rays hope to split the double header and win the series.