If I were not a Rays fan, I would have appreciated this fine pitchers duel.
But because I am a Rays fan I can’t help but feel frustrated by a team that struck out 14 times and left nine runners on base en route to a 1-0 loss.
Both teams had runners the first inning without scoring. In the second inning, however, Seattle was able to string together a few hits to score the first run. The inning could have been much worse if not for a bad base running mistake by Seattle’s Josh Rojas, who managed to get tagged after a pop foul was caught because he was too far off first base. Where did he think he was going?
At any rate, that was it. That was the game’s only run.
Early on I thought the Rays did well to try to create some opportunities against a good pitcher. There were some patient at bats that drew walks. Luke Raley bunted for a hit.
Because Castillo had uncharacteristic control problems, the Rays actually had several opportunities in the early innings. They hit into some bad luck — 109 and 101 mph liners were hit right at outfielders.
But after the first few innings, Castillo and three relievers kept the Rays from making solid contact. The majority of base runners came via walks or hit batters, and two of those were erased when runners were caught stealing. (To be clear I’m not even complaining about the caught stealing — the Rays needed to make something happen, and in both cases it took perfect throws to get the runner).
As for Zack Littell, well, while he did pitch into and out of jams in the first two innings, thereafter he was near perfect, giving one of the best Rays pitching performances of the season. He pitched eight innings, the first Rays starter to do to this year. He scattered five hits and walked one. He only struck out four, but strikeouts are not his game, he’s a weak contact guy. And he got through eight innings throwing 86 pitches, the model of efficiency. I was really hoping Cash would let him pitch the ninth. The Rays chances of winning were not high, at least let us have that complete game!