The Rays lost a close game today, falling victim to two long balls as their offense failed to put together any sustained rallies.
The Detroit pitcher, Alex Faedo, is truly a local boy. Alonso High School, where his dad also coaches, University of Florida. First round pick in 2017. After losing time to Tommy John surgery, he has debuted this year with the Tigers, and made his third start today. I don’t know about you all but while I did want to see a Rays win, I didn’t want to see a young guy humiliated in front of friends and family. My sweet spot would have been a Rays 3-1 win.
The first hit off of Faedo was a deep fly ball, legitimately well, hit, but somewhat misplayed by Robbie Grossman in right field allowing Ji-Man Choi to have an easy double. But the Rays managed to run themselves out of that threat; Brujan hit a grounder between first and second, and second baseman Jonathan Schoop swiftly threw to third to get Choi. Brujan was then thrown out trying to steal second. From man on second no outs to bases empty, two outs.
Kluber was far more effective tonight than in his last start, getting into a little trouble with two hit by pitches (like just barely grazed uniforms HBPs but they still get a base!). The tie was broken in the fourth however. Miguel Cabrera singled, and Jonathan Schoop put a further damper on the evening with a two-run home run.
Brett Phillips cut the lead in half with a solo home run in the sixth inning. The ball hit the C ring — a homer according to ground rules — and then bounced on the field; Phillips had been in a typical home run trot but probably seeing the ball on the field surprised him so he turned on the burners, streaking to second and third until the Tropicana Field home run horn sounded and Brett slowed back to a trot crossing the plate. The Tigers challenged the Home Run call, but why?
Faedo was gone after 5.2 innings, with a solid outing, but the Rays were definitely making decent contact off of him — just that their hard hit balls were right into players gloves. Kluber’s six inning outing was a good one, with the Schoop home run the only real mistake.
The Rays finally tied it up in the eighth. Brett Phillips (who was basically the whole offense tonight) doubled, moved to third on a wild pitch, and scored on Wander Franco’s deep fly to center.
Alas that tie was short-lived. With Andrew Kittredge pitching the ninth, a slider was hung and a home run was hit and the Tigers went ahead 3-2. Kittredge has been a little too home run prone of late, and it’s cost the Rays a few times.
While Harold Ramirez did get a two-out, two-strike single to keep hope alive in the ninth, Mike Zunino flew out to center to end the game with a Rays loss.
Clearly the Rays offense is sputtering a bit right now. Margot has been their most consistent hitter of late, but he’s on the IL. Brandon Lowe also hit the IL today. Several of the players we assume will carry the Rays offense have been slumping. But sometimes you also get unlucky. The Rays actually made good contact today — they only struck out six times, which is not a lot for this team. But their batted balls ended up in outstretched gloves.
Here’s hoping the baseball gods are a little more sympathetic tomorrow.