With a hurricane bearing down on the state of Florida, the Rays and Orioles shoehorned tomorrow’s matinee into a day-night double header, and although multiple members of this masthead took advantage of the two-for-one special in St. Petersburg, not many did.
Don’t let that be the narrative for game two, though, there was real baseball of consequence happening.
After the Rays dropped the first game due to some anemic offense (these Rays shine better in the dark of night) they came back with a vengeance for a dominating rout in game two.
Andrew Kittredge opened for the Rays, working a scoreless first inning on one hit, but it was the next few frames of pitching that should be remembered.
We begin with Jalen Beeks, who relieved Kittredge in his first appearance as what is likely to be a traditional relief role for the rest of the season. He would allow two hits and strikeout one over two innings before the Rays pulled him out of there with 34 pitches thrown. This should be the new normal for a Rays pitcher that’s been easy to like but also easy to beat as of late.
Diego Castillo then came on for the fourth and fifth pumping some real 100-mph heat as anyone who’d seen Castillo’s last couple outings held their breaths, but any nerves were unfounded for the faithful following on TV. The slider was working and it was the good version of Diego Castillo. The kind that inspires confidence in every nook and cranny of the Rays roster. The kind you need to see if you have aspirations of your favorite baseball team making the playoffs.
From there, an off day tomorrow allowed Kevin Cash to manage his bullpen aggressively, with some notable moments as Poche, Roe, and Anderson carved up batters — and in Anderson’s case I mean carved. Overcoming his seemingly only weakness in pitching across multiple innings, Anderson struck out four consecutive batters, riling up Orioles manager into an ejection.
I’d feel that way too if I had to send my batters up to face Anderson.
Austin Meadows opened the scoring for either team in Game 2 with a light-tower-power shot to right field, with the ball tumbling over the wall in the fourth. The well struck homer was Meadows 26th on the season, and came off an Ynoa breaking ball he tried to backfoot but left in the wheelhouse.
Mercy. 1-0 Rays
We didn’t see anything exciting off that bat again until the next inning when Avisail Garcia’s bat exploded into a couple pieces in the fifth, with some of the bat going up and over the netting into the audience.
I know MLB investigates some bats that break poorly to see what went wrong, and they should look at this one. It looks like a dangerous incident, but the mood was at least lightened when Willy Adames left the on-deck circle to come smell the broken pieces! Adames often smells his own bat after a fouled pitch, but this is the first we’ve seen him sniff a dissected stick.
Things got weird again in the seventh inning, when Ji-Man Choi hit a triple that bounced off the turf, then up and over Anthony Santander’s head. The big man turned on the jets, making it to third safely for a triple, but the tag came late and knocked him in the jaw. Choi was sprawled out in pain for a minute before leaving the game for pinch runner Guillermo Heredia. Garcia scored him easily a couple pitches later on a line drive to left. 2-0 Rays
The Rays would load the bases in the eighth, which was exciting in that it included an out at home when Wendle came charging in on a ground ball for an easy out, but there were no worries. Emilio Pagan locked down the five-hit shut out with a line out and two K’s before he flexed his way to the high five conga line.
The Orioles continued pitching up and in at Rays batters, with Eric Sogard taking a baseball to the helmet from Paul Fry in the eighth. The pitch bounced off the inside of the helmet’s brim and demolished Sogard’s glasses, sending a lens flying and roughing up Sogard’s nose.
If a timely update comes on Sogard’s condition, we’ll add it here.
The Rays win, but bigger things than baseball weigh heavy on the mind in games like this.
- So aggressive were the Rays going after starter Gabriel Ynoa that by the time they chased him with two runs scored, he’d thrown only 61 pitches in 6.1 innings.
- Double-headers can really mess with a manager’s lineup maintenance, even in September with rosters expanded. There was a clear pinch hit opportunity in Game 1 where Mike Zunino could and should have been swapped for a lefty on the bench, but Cash decided otherwise, and one has to wonder if it’s the double-header’s fault. And yet, later in game two we got Zunino entering as a replacement. His work was not concentrated to one game... so did Cash just like Zunino’s bat in game one?
- Austin Meadows had a great sliding catch across the Shaw Sports turf this evening, notable because Meadows was playing left field while Tommy Pham (who was plunked on the knee last night) took the DH slot in game two.
- How strong is Tommy Pham? He hit a baseball of the end of the bat in the bottom of the sixth that nearly went over the fence in left field. The would-be homer died on the warning track, making it look like (in the words of John Ford) look like, “One of last years baseballs.”
- Willy Adames hit multiple shots through the place where SS Villar was standing today.
- Stay safe out there friends.