If you didn’t watch the game, and just saw the final score, you’d think this had been a reasonably close game.
An “efficient dismantling” was Brian Anderson’s summation — and it was apt through seven innings, as the Rays put up runs in nearly every frame while holding the Red Sox to a single second inning score. But then Kevin Cash chose to rest his relievers and hand this game over to the recently recalled (and I assume soon to be DFA’d) David Hess, and yadda yadda yadda the final score was 12-7.
But we won’t start with the brutally long 54 pitch, six run Hess appearance. Let’s go back to the beginning.
Eduardo Rodriguez had stymied the Rays the last time these teams met, but tonight the Rays got to him in the second, stringing together a series of singles and doubles and even a Mike Zunino triple, his second of the year! His triple at first looked to be a foul ball; Z casually strolled down the first base line but then still had time to turn on the burners to get to third base. Zunino did, however, manage to get picked off third base, yikes! Zunino is to me this year’s MVP but he managed to drive in two runs and also make two boneheaded moves in the same inning. Even with that blunder the Rays managed a crooked number, taking a 3-0 lead.
The Red Sox got one back the next inning and let’s just say that, of course, Hunter Renfroe was involved. How could he have been so terrible for the Rays last year and so good against the Rays this year? He was wasn’t with TB long enough to hold a grudge.
Just an inning later, however, Rays number got even more crooked. Nelson Cruz hit a two run homer, and he picked the deepest part of the park. 107 mph, 410 feet
Another day, another boom pic.twitter.com/E4UjYuT7b4— Tampa Bay Rays (@RaysBaseball) September 8, 2021
And then Zunino said, “hold my beer”. 105 mph, 407 feet
There are no-doubters, and then there's this pic.twitter.com/XRg6ttfFsE— Tampa Bay Rays (@RaysBaseball) September 8, 2021
To which Nelson Cruz said, “not so fast, kid”. 115 mph, 438 ft
.@ncboomstick23's 2nd of the night, 30th of the season and it got out in a HURRY. pic.twitter.com/2YTXPaGOGk— MLB (@MLB) September 8, 2021
And with that, Nelson Cruz becomes the oldest player to have a thirty home run season. A victory for us olds. Also, as Homin Lee noted:
Cruz hit the HR at 95.0 mph fastball. This is the fastest pitch he hit an extra-base hit as a #Rays. Very good sign. Below is the 2nd fastest one. 93.9 mph fastball. pic.twitter.com/iWSCvKXAnD— Homin Lee (@Homein22) September 8, 2021
But wait! Mike says “hey old man, watch this” 106 mph, 405 feet: (oops I can’t find a video of that one).
And an inning later, Jordan Luplow says, “guys, you really don’t have to hit it that hard to get it out of this joke of a park” — 93 mph, 353 feet (but two men on base!)
There's no such thing as a wall scraper for the Rays offense tonight pic.twitter.com/988Bp1s4JL— Tampa Bay Rays (@RaysBaseball) September 8, 2021
So many homers! Even the usually very enthusiastic guys in the dugout are looking a little bored.
That made it 12-1 going into the eighth inning. Drew Rasmussen had pitched very well and finished five innings. He didn’t strike out many (just two) but he also avoided walks and got a lot of ground balls to keep the Red Sox mostly off the board. Louis Head pitched the next two innings and continued his streak of strong outings.
Then came David Hess. I remembered Hess because he was hit hard in Spring Training so I was not surprised when he didn’t make the team. He’s spent the season in Durham where he’s been okay (3.28 ERA, striking out over a batter per inning). He was clearly called up to eat a few innings.
How bad could it be?
Just an endless string of hard hit balls: eight hits, three home runs, and six runs in total. Somehow in between those hits six outs were indeed registered to end the game. Toward the end, Kittredge was warming and I kept wondering at what point Kevin Cash, who clearly did NOT want to use a top reliever in this situation, would decide he’d seen enough. I’m glad we did not have to find out.
Some concluding thoughts:
- Franco was uncharacteristically quiet tonight, but he did draw a walk so the streak survives
- Nelson Cruz, my goodness! Four for five, four RBI, two home runs and a double, and everything hard hit
- Why do Red Sox chant “Yankees Suck” when the Yankees are not playing there?
- And speaking of the Red Sox community, what the heck is this?
You've got to think Eovaldi is going to throw a 99-mph high and tight very early in tomorrow's game. You almost have to, right?— Ian Browne (@IanMBrowne) September 8, 2021
I had thought this was some random Red Sox person tweeting but no, this is the Red Sox MLB beat writer endorsing head hunting against a team that had the temerity to play well.
- Yankees lost again; with their lead up to 9.5 games I’m beginning to the Rays might actually win this darn division. Also, Gerrit Cole left the game early, reportedly as a precaution, with a sore hamstring.