Some losses on the year hurt a ton. You just know that if a bounce here or there go the other way, the result would be different. There are some games where it’s just no contest, easy loss. And then there’s another category where it almost transcends into comedy.
And they all count as one.
The Rays today were not sharp, they were not playing great baseball, they didn’t defend well, they couldn’t really get many good swings on Jose Berrios, and the pitching was...not great, Bob!
Taj Bradley got the start for the Rays and it was decidedly his least sharp performance of his young major league career. His cutter wasn’t up to his normal high standards, and his command just came and went all game. All that being said, Taj still battled, he still filled up the strike zone, avoided walks, and still notched whiffs (14 out of 80 pitches thrown).
Bradley finished the evening with 4 IP 9 H 4 ER 0 BB 7 K. 35% CSW and 32% Whiff really showcases what a special talent Taj is and the potential he has. It’s not his best day, but he’s still an incredibly special pitcher who can keep his team in it even when he’s off.
Taj Bradley's 3Ks in the 1st. pic.twitter.com/twtWT2nYsr— Rob Friedman (@PitchingNinja) May 23, 2023
With the score 4-0, and not wanting to overtax Bradley, the Rays turned to the bullpen to start the 5th. This is the last time this game would be anywhere near the rails.
Zack Burdi, fresh off the Durham shuttle, got the ball and proceeded to strike out Brandon Belt looking to kick off the 5th with an out. It would then go immediately downhill from there. Here’s the sequence immediately after the 1st out was recorded:
Single - 6-0
Wild Pitch - 7-0
Sac-Fly - 8-0
Wild Pitch - 9-0
Single - 10-0
and 3rd out recorded as Vladdy tried to stretch that Single into a Double on the throw home.
Eventually, it was position player pitching time, and Luke Raley got the first crack at it, providing one of the very, very few highlights for the Rays and some much-needed whiff for the Rays pen:
Luke Raley, Overpowering 50mph Pitch.— Rob Friedman (@PitchingNinja) May 24, 2023
Perfected the Chuck and Duck technique. pic.twitter.com/ElhWSTdguV
There’s honestly not much to take away from this one. Sometimes you just have a stinker. The end result is wildly lopsided 20-1, but a full half of those runs from Toronto are off of a RF and a C.
The Run differential will grow, the Rays will have better days, and the best thing to do is just put this one in the bin and move on.