This season started with sky-high expectations. But after a decent start, things just haven’t gone right. The ridiculous tear the Yankees have been on. The daily baserunning mistakes. And, of course, the injuries. Margot and Zunino still out, probably for a while. BLowe ready to start his rehab, only to be hit in the head during his first at bat of the first rehab game. Then came yesterday. KK out again with a hip. And the kill shot: Wander with a broken hamate. And you would be forgiven for thinking this was just not our year.
And come on, what the heck is a hamate? Is that even a real bone? Because I had never heard of it till about five years ago, and now all the cool kids are breaking it. Uncle, baseball gods!
Okay, enough whining. Gotta try and salvage this game against the Reds. So let’s check the lineup.
Taylor Walls is hitting third? That’s a choice.
Our last game on the road before the All-Star break is coming up at 1:40pm pic.twitter.com/6672nRrQSJ— Tampa Bay Rays (@RaysBaseball) July 10, 2022
The Book will tell you that the three-hole is overrated. Contrary to baseball conventional wisdom, it’s where you should slot your fifth best hitter. The real problem with today’s lineup isn’t what Cash got wrong; it’s what he got right. Taylor Walls probably was our fifth best hitter. Yuck.
Still, the Rays had a golden opportunity to draw first blood in the first inning. They put runners on the corners with no outs after a Díaz double and a Ramírez infield single. But it quickly turned into fool’s gold as Taylor Walls and Randy Arozarena both struck out on three pitches, and Paredes popped to second.
A Rays rally in the third was also cut short, this time by your regularly scheduled TOOTBLAN. The inning started with a one out Díaz single to right. After a Ramírez flyout, Taylor Walls singled to right, sending Díaz to third. However, Wall took a wide turn when Naquin bobbled the ball. Unfortunately for Taylor, Naquin recovered quickly and picked off Walls before he could scramble back to first.
On the mound, Baz looked good through the first two, even helping himself with a nifty 1-unassisted putout.
But everything came undone in the third as the Reds hung a seven-spot on Baz. Mark Reynolds started it with a single, and Jonathan India homered on a ball that I’m still not sure how it got out.
With one out, Tommy Pham tripled after Lowe failed to make a highlight reel grab on a sinking liner. He then scored on a play that I can’t even describe.
Tyler Stevenson was swinging 3-0. The ball went very, very far.
A Solano single preceded the 200th homer of Moustakis’ career.
7-0 Reds, and Baz was done.
Look, I don’t believe in momentum. I think “makeup” is overrated. But this looked like a team just waiting for things to go wrong. And sooner or later, if that’s the way you’re gonna play it, they will go wrong.
They did show some moxie to make a game of it. The rally started when Randy Arozarena homered to lead off the fourth.
They kept the inning going, loading the bases with two outs on singles by Paredes and Lowe and a hit by pitch of Phillips. Yandy then singled to right, scoring Paredes and Lowe and sending Phillips to third.
Harold drew a walk to reload the bases for...Walls. Who struck out looking. Sigh.
The Reds answered in the bottom of the frame against Phoenix Sanders. A double by Drury, a single by Pham, and a two RBI double by Naquin.
Single, score. 10-3.
Josh Lowe and René Pinto both hit solo homers during garbage time in the eighth, both taking Kuhnel out to right.
Rene Pinto - Tampa Bay Rays (2)— MLB HR Videos (@MLBHRVideos) July 10, 2022
That would be all the scoring. On the plus side, Shawn Armstrong was solid, working three scoreless innings, and Ryan Thompson worked a scoreless inning.
Also — and this has very little to do with the outcome — this zone was an absolute mess. Like “toddler eating birthday cake” mess.
The Rays head home to start a series against the Red Sox that has some wild card implications. Game time is at 7:10 PM.