There are all kinds of way for a team to lose. Slugfests. Tip-your-cap shut down pitching performances.
My least favorite losses? Games like this one. Where there are men on base, scoring chances, almost every inning. But never, ever, that breakthrough hit.
The Rays stranded 9 runners. Now I don’t think LOB is always a telling statistic — you can score 10 runs and still leave a lot of men on base. Tonight their eight hits and two walks pretty much amounted to nothing.
The Rays managed to get on base several times in the first few innings, but it was Cincinnati that scored first, on a solo home run from Kevin Newman. A hard comebacker from Yandy Diaz hit Reds pitcher Hunter Greene in the third inning, and he was replaced by a reliever to start the fourth. You’d think that would have given the Rays an advantage in this game. It did not.
Other than the home run, Beeks pitched a strong three innings, but his replacement, Kevin Kelly, didn’t fare as well. A hit and two walks loaded the bases with no outs, and one out later a double to deep center field cleared the bases to give the Reds a 4-0 lead.
The Rays looked like they had something going in the fifth inning, with two walks and Brandon Lowe at bat. But Lowe lined into a double play to end the inning. This was definitely shaping up into a frustrating “chicken on bone” sort of night.
An inning later they actually loaded the bases with just one out. Any runs come out of it? No. Josh Lowe struck out. Manuel Margot’s bloop looked like it was just maybe going to drop but it didn’t. Ultimately the Rays would score — on a solo homer from Josh Lowe in the 9th, at which point the game was well out of reach.
Hey, at least that home run streak is in tact!
Tonight was the first appearance of Cooper Criswell, a right handed reliever who had had a strong spring but didn’t make the team. He was called up for today’s game, and after he’d pitched two innings I was starting to write that his pitching was at least one bright spot in this game. But then he had pretty brutal seventh and eighth innings that included hitting two batters in a row and having them both score. I assume if they Rays had a lead he would have been out of the game sooner, but the Rays approach has always been that if they are trailing in later innings, they don’t waste a bullpen arm in hopes of an unlikely comeback.
So overall: the pitching was meh, the at bats were unimpressive and the key hits were missing. Clearly a night best forgotten.