[This recap brought to you by Brad Neveu and Jim Turvey]
This was going to be a story about why two people decided to write one game recap together, but something far more interesting happened on the field.
It was Blake Snell’s #BumpDay.
Coming off a 2.08 ERA and 0.92 WHIP over his last 3 games, it felt like Snell was heating up to his old CY self. Well, he started the game by throwing 28 pitches in the first, putting two men on, but worked out of it unscathed. It felt like nearly all 28 pitches were change-ups and curve balls.
It was actually really interesting. The change-up was very hard, in the 89-91 range, and he used it like he was a sinker ball pitcher. He pound the bottom of the zone with it, sprinkling in high 95 fastballs and then dropping the curve in for the K.
Opposite Snell was Toronto’s Tanner Roark, who the Rays tagged for four hits, four walks, and three runs in four innings just 10 days prior. That didn’t translate to the bottom of the first in tonight’s game as he retired the first three batters with a ground out, walk, and double play ground out.
The top of the second was just what Snell needed after a long first: short and sweet. The defense turned in three beautiful plays, with Brandon Lowe running down a foul ball from RF, Kevin Kiermaier making a diving catch in center, and then Joey Wendle ranging for a deep grounder to end the inning. The boys brought the leather today.
Defense— Tampa Bay Rays (@RaysBaseball) August 24, 2020
To the bottom of the second we go. Ji-Man Choi flyout, gonna be a quiet innin..... TSUTSUGO!!!!!
Go go ✌️✌️ !— Tampa Bay Rays (@RaysBaseball) August 24, 2020
Home run! pic.twitter.com/Mzmw9v0HHm
Wendle followed the homer with a single and tried to score on an Adames triple, but was thrown out at the plate. With Adames on third, KK grounded into a close play at first that was originally called... O-Safe?
That would have scored Adames to make it 2-0, but the call would eventually be overturned to just plain Out. Oh well.
With a first pitch out to start the third, Snell was looking for another quick inning. A four-outfielder shift on Biggio left a hole for him to poke the ball oppo for a ground ball single. With a man on, Snell would K Grichuk for the second out, but give up a double to Vladimir Guerrero Jr. to allow a run. Another K would end the threat, but not before tying the game, 1-1.
Zunino started the bottom of the third by sending one deep for a stand up double. For a guy that seemingly gets one hit a week, this one would go for naught as Meadows, Lowe, and Diaz all immediately went down in order.
All right, time for the acid trip part of the recap as Jim comes in for Brad.
Looks like I timed this entry well, as Snell strikes out the side in order in the top half of the fourth before Willy Adames makes sure you know it’s the fair pole, not the foul pole, poking a two-run homer to right field to give the Rays the 3-1 lead.
In the fifth, the Rays once again get a leadoff double from Zunes, and once again can’t bring him around to score. I wonder if those two missed opportunities will come around to haunt them?
However, Snell continued to cruise into the sixth, when, with two outs and an 0-2 count, he left one over the plate for Lourdes Gurriel Jr. who did what the Jays just seem to keep doing to the Rays, leaving the yard to cut the lead to 3-2 and chase Snell from the game.
[Cut to a dark corner of an abandoned basement where a group who call themselves the Anti-Snellers are chanting something quietly. You step closer and the words begin to take shape: “Can’t go six; can’t go six; can’t go six.” You walk away terrified but a little bit convinced.]
The Rays couldn’t extend their lead after a leadoff walk in the sixth, and that ended up being a big deal, as the top of the seventh was a big one.
To start things off, Edgar Garcia came in to make his Rays debut and looked solid. He walked the first batter but promptly made up for it with a nice hustling defensive play to turn two on the next batter. However, he lost the third hitter to a walk, and that’s when things got interesting.
Let’s play a little game of Choose Your Own Adventure.
If you decide to bring in Aaron Loup for the lefty-lefty matchup, you are Kevin Cash, keep reading after the italics.
If you decide to keep Garcia in to face Biggio, you agree with my original assessment and can go read after the Garcia faces Biggio header.
If you want Bradley back for some semblance of a sane recap, turn to page FOH.
With Loup on to face Biggio (a matchup that had resulted in a Biggio double just 24 hours earlier), the Rays “caught” some really bad luck. On a 1-1 count, Cavan Biggio reached base via a catcher’s interference, and with the new three-batter minimum rule, it meant Loup was now stuck facing righty Randal Grichuk. Grichuk continued the Rays bad luck by sneaking a homer into the Crawford Cutout to put the Jays ahead 5-3.
Moving along to the bottom half of the eighth, the Rays clawed one back thanks to Choi and Tsutsugo singling and walking, respectively, to start the inning before a Joey Wendle fielder’s choice combined with an error brought the Rays back to within one.
However, an error of the Rays doing in the ninth put that lead back to two and put the pressure back on the bats to make a move in the bottom of the ninth.
Manuel Margot’s hustle got things started in the ninth with a leadoff infield single. And a one-out walk to Austin Meadows (who Jordan Romano wanted no part of) gave them some real hope. But the day’s struggled with RISP continued, as Brandon Lowe whiffed and Yandy Diaz grounded out to first on a nice play by Vladito, ensuring the Jays win, thus wrapping up the season series between these two division rivals, 6-4, in favor of Tampa Bay.
Garcia faces Biggio
With the logic that you’d prefer Garcia to Loup for the batters after Biggio, you leave in the fresh-faced righty to try to get the final out of the seventh. Biggio glances at the dugout. You sure you want to leave this guy in to face me, all right then.
Garcia nibbles at the corner with a fastball for strike one. Biggio adjusts his helmet, tugs on his batting gloves and gets back in to the box.
A slider sweeping in on the hands leads to an awkward cut and miss from the typically smooth-swinging lefty.
Garcia paces the mound ready to head back to the dugout for his congratulations. He peers in to see what Zunino is telling him to throw: elevated fastball; can do.
Garcia goes into his motion, making passing eye contact with Biggio for a thousandth of a second just before he releases the ball; Biggio knows.
The pitch is right where Garcia intended it, but Biggio gets his bat around on it and puts a mighty swing on the pitch. The ball takes off the bat like a bullet out of a gun. In right field, Brandon Lowe turns so fast to watch it past that he gets whiplash and is out for the season.
On his way around the bases, Biggio proceeds to punch every single Ray in the nuggets, also knocking them out for the season. When he gets back to the dugout, a Hall of Fame plaque and the 2020 World Series trophy await him—it was that mighty a blast. The Rays not only lose the game right then and there, but all of Major League Baseball is suspended forever because nothing will ever top that moment.
What have you done?
Turn back to page Go back to being a fan/blog writer and don’t try to question one of the best managers in baseball. Better luck next time.