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Rays 3 Royals 6: Still waiting for “El Electrico”

MLB: Tampa Bay Rays at Kansas City Royals Peter Aiken-USA TODAY Sports

When I saw Luke Raley hitting third in the lineup, I had a sense of foreboding about this game. As it turned out, Raley got an RBI single and was robbed of a hit on a first inning liner, so his position in the order was not, ultimately, the problem tonight. But Patiño was inconsistent; the Rays struggled against Royals starter Singer, and Cash got greedy in leaving Ryan Yarbrough in for a third inning.

Patiño had made his first post-IL start just before the break had looked shaky although the results were not terrible (and he’d been pulled early). Tonight’s game could give some evidence of whether that start had been Back to Pitching rust, or whether the young righty still has a ways to go.

He began the game by yielding a single to the lead off hitter, and a single and a walk later he had loaded the bases. (KC seemed to be very aggressive, swinging at the first pitch with some success). Patiño went 3-0 on the next batter, but a chopped grounder went right to Diaz for the force at third.

In the second inning, Choi hit a ball very well, and it carried to the centerfield fence but centerfielder Isbel converted a likely extra base hit into an out.

The Royals threatened in their half of the third when Melendez hit a well struck lead off double to center. Another double by Bobby Witt Jr. knocked in the Royal’s first run. Patiño walked Benintendi — all this with no outs — and this looked like it would be a big inning. A strikeout and a caught line drive later it looked like maybe Patiño would wriggle out of this, Merrifield doubled in two runs to give the Royals a 3-0 lead. Mejia’s arm got the Rays out of this inning - he caught Merrifield trying to steal third.

It looked like the bottom of the fourth would be more of the same — a hit and a walk put runners on the corners. But newcomer Quinn did a great job catching a fly out to right and positioning himself for a throw home, which prevented the tagged runner from scoring. And a few outfield flies later, Patiño had escaped the inning with the 3-0 deficit unchanged.

Ryan Yarbrough replaced Patiño for the fifth had pitched a blessedly quick inning.

Meanwhile, the Rays were heading into the sixth inning without an actual hit. But Roman Quinn led off with a great bunt down the first base line and the no-hitter was over (cue the unwritten rules police!) He was forced out on a Yandy grounder but a few bad throws meant Diaz ended up at second base. He scored on a (drum roll please) Luke Raley RBI single. So at the end of six innings, the Rays trailed 3-1 — not ideal, but considering how much KC was dominating the game it remained surprisingly close.

One thing the Rays did manage to do was to see enough pitches that Singer was pulled in the seventh inning, after giving up a single to Taylor Walls. Singer struck out 12 batters in the six innings of work. After his departure, Mejia added another hit, and then the big hit of the game came from Roman Quinn, whose triple scored two runs and tied the game.

Ryan Yarbrough came back to pitch the bottom of the seventh. He got two quick outs but then proceeded to give up three successive hits. On the third hit, Hunter Dozier tried to score from second on a not very deep single to right; Randy Arozarena got to the ball quickly and fired accurately to the plate, where Mejia was perfectly positioned to tag Dozier out, preserving the tie.

However the tie was broken the following inning. Yarbrough’s 72 mph curve was right over the plate and Michael Taylor got all of it, his solo shot putting the Royals back in front. The inning didn’t end there; an infield hit and another home run later, and the Rays were once again looking at a three run deficit. They would ultimately lose the game 6-3.

Some quick closing thoughts:

  • Brian Anderson’s vacations are always tough days in this household, but hat tip to Doug Waechter for filling in well. Waechter doesn’t have BA’s humor and story-telling ability but he does a good job of sharing observations, especially about pitching. In the second inning when Jason Isbel was on first base, for example, Waechter noted that the runner’s positioning of his feet made clear he was about to run. Indeed, he did take off to second (forced to return when the pitch was fouled off)
  • Despite the loss, we can acknowledge some positive contributions. Roman Quinn made a very positive impression with his baserunning, defense and hitting. Francisco Mejia had two hits, threw out two base-stealers, and completed a put out at home on the throw from Arozarena
  • What are we going to do about Yarbrough’s mustache?

Of course the great thing about baseball is they play it nearly every day, so we barely have time to be disappointed about tonight’s loss before Jeffrey Springs will be taking the mound tomorrow.