In a season full of offense, run prevention still matters.
The Tampa Bay Rays finally became the first American League team to 90 wins after flirting with the mark and falling short in the previous two games. They didn’t just get a win, they shutdown and shutout the red hot Toronto Blue Jays in a 2-0 win Tuesday night.
Before getting into the great performances from the Rays players, you have to tip a cap to the performance from Jose Berrios for the Blue Jays. Aside from a solo home run to Ji-Man Choi (EV 110.1, LA 25, 437 feet) in the second inning, he was absolutely dominant. In seven innings of work Berrios only gave up four hits while striking out four Rays hitters. Only one hitter reached base of the final 13 he faced and that was due to Nelson Cruz getting hit by a pitch.
José Berríos puts in a great night’s work, but is on the hook for the loss if the #WeAreBlueJays can’t find a way to comeback.— Coolbet Canada (@CoolbetCanada) September 15, 2021
4 Khttps://t.co/RMMajRMwvL#MakeItMajor pic.twitter.com/ppM5H8oH48
Can we pause for just a moment and enjoy the blast from Choi one more time?
When the Blue Jays replaced Berrios with Tim Mayza in the eighth inning, Brandon Lowe took full advantage and hit a solo homer (EV 100.0, LA 32, 384 feet) of his own to extend the Rays lead to two runs in a game where every ounce of offense counted.
Another ball on a tee, another ball that's not coming back pic.twitter.com/749Dsp9xzy— Tampa Bay Rays (@RaysBaseball) September 15, 2021
Now, let’s talk about the Rays pitching.
Things got started for the Rays with their all other duties as assigned pitcher Drew Rasmussen on the mound for his eighth start of the season. It would be hard to ask for a more efficient start from a pitcher as Rasmussen finished with five scoreless innings pitched while only allowing two hits on 52 pitches.
The Rays bullpen combination of Pete Fairbanks, JT Chargois, David Robertson and Andrew Kittredge all combined for four shutout innings proving it is possible to slowdown the Blue Jays lineup at this stage in the season where they have been almost unstoppable.
Beyond the great pitching this game is really about a lot of well struck balls that just fell for outs. The Rays and Blue Jays xBA were .332 and .257 respectively while the actual batting averages were .182 for the Rays and .102 for the Blue Jays. Manuel Margot found himself in the right place at the perfect time to get Reese McGuire out in the third (xBA .890) and Vladimir Guerrero Jr. (xBA .780) out among a handful of other plays for both teams that could easily have resulted in baserunners and ultimately more runs from these potent offenses.
It was a fun game to watch if you are a Rays fan and frustrating game to watch if you were rooting against them. 90 wins is an important milestone for a team with championship aspirations and this Rays team is on pace for their best season in franchise history.
Their quest continues tomorrow with a 3:07pm first pitch against the Blue Jays. Michael Wacha (3-4, 5.37) will take the mound for the Rays opposite Robbie Ray (11-5, 2.69) for the Blue Jays.