For those of you pining for the acerbity of the Rays and Red Sox games of yore, the acrimonious linkage returned to The Trop Saturday night, in what would go down as one of the more truly bizarre games in recent history. A power outage to start the game, five hit batsmen, and a TKO of Dustin Pedroia later, the Tampa Bay Rays walked away with a combined 7-0, one hit shutout of the Boston Red Sox.
As a storm raged outside of Tropicana Field, a reported lightning strike caused a power surge that resulted in the dimming of some of the stadium lights. After a 12 minute delay, the fireworks began inside.
Both sides went down in order in the first, while Jake Odorizzi racked up the first of seven strikeouts. However, in the second inning, Odorizzi came up and in on with a pitch that squarely nailed Yoenis Cespedes. As Cespedes took his base, he gave Odorizzi a menacing glare – a foreboding warning of what was to come in the bottom of the inning.
As if on cue, Allen Webster hit Evan Longoria with a pitch to start the bottom half of the frame. If this was and intentional act, what followed blew up in the face of John Farrell and his crew. James Loney sent an RBI double to deep right field, scoring Longo from first. Brandon Guyer followed with a single through the left side, and Logan Forsythe walked his way on to load the bases. Ryan Hanigan launched a deep sac-fly into center which put the Rays up 2-0.
…And the next round of fireworks were primed and ready to go off.
Both Guyer and Forsythe aggressively tagged up on Hanigan’s sac-fly as well, with Forsythe’s being the more substantial of the two. Forsythe slid into second head first as Pedroia fielded the throw from center field. When Logan made a swim motion to avoid the tag, his elbow connected with the side of Pedroia’s head. The impact left Pedroia face down on the field – resulting in him leaving the game for precautionary reasons after he exhibited symptoms consistent with a concussion.
Forsythe’s aim wasn’t to injure the Red Sox’s second baseman, and he was clearly apologetic. After the game, Forsythe was asked if he hit Pedroia on purpose,
“Absolutely not. I’m definitely not that kind of player. The only move that I made was to try to swim-move the tag to get out of the way. It was a bang-bang play, and the way he came down, too — it was a hard play.”
Farrell certainly didn’t think Forsythe had any intent to hurt Pedroia,
“Pedey’s coming in to try to put a quick tag on him. Momentum looked like with Forsythe’s head-first slide, he struck him with his elbow, that much was clear,” said Farrell. “It looked like the momentum took him across the bag. He’s reaching out ahead of him to try to brace himself and not slide past the bag. As he’s reaching forward, he caught him with a good elbow to the left side of the head.”
Once the game resumed, Ben Zobrist hit a grounder to second that scored Guyer from third. Zobrist beat out the throw on the back end of the double play attempt, but Wil Myers struck out to end the inning with a 3-0 lead.
With two on and one out in the fourth, Webster hit Kevin Kiermaier with a pitch on the hands to load the bases with one out. For whatever reason, Farrell challenged call to see if the ball made contact with Kiermaier or the bat. The call was quickly confirmed. Zobrist put the Rays up 4-0 with an RBI ground out. But with a pair of runners in scoring position, Myers ended the inning with his second strikeout of the night.
Tampa Bay scored three more runs in the fifth inning. It all started with Matt Joyce and Longo on base following a walk and single (respectively). Brandon Guyer laid down a beautiful bunt that only David Ross could field. However, Ross’s throw was offline and the Rays base runners were off and running after the ball bounded away. Joyce and Longo both scored, putting the Rays up by six runs. Forsythe, appropriately, scored the final run on a sac-fly to right that plated Guyer and gave the Rays a 7-0 lead.
Overall, Jake Odorizzi was outstanding. He stayed out of trouble until the seventh when he looked like he was running out of gas. Jake walked the bases loaded with two outs, but managed to induce a weak popper out of Xander Bogaerts to get out of the jam unscathed.
Odorizzi tinkered under the hood between starts, rebounding nicely following his rough outing Monday. Of note, he followed through better rather than “spinning off pitches.”
“I was rotational last time and today I was down through,” Odorizzi said. “It wasn’t running, it was going right where I wanted it to and kept it where I wanted to.
“The action was completely different than the other day. [Monday night] was just kind of a weird thing had happened. Minor tweak changes it and changes everything. But when you get in that habit during the game, it’s kind of a tough thing to adjust when you’re in the heat of battle type of thing. But I worked on it in the ‘pen, got back to normal.”
He had a particularly deadly cutter/slider combo that that baffled Cespedes in the top of the seventh. Odorizzi’s final line: 7.0 IP/1 H/0 ER/3 BB/7 K on 103 pitches (65 strikes).
The New What Next
Alex Cobb will oppose Clay Buchholz and the Red Sox, Sunday afternoon. If I may, Buchholz (5-8, 5.77 ERA) has been abysmal this season. The Red Sox are 4-8 in their last 12 games when Buchholz has taken the mound. Meanwhile, the 30 year-old RHP has given four or more runs in seven of those 12 games. Red Sox GM Ben suggested that Buchholz doesn’t have a consistent feel for his secondary pitches, namely his changeup. “He’s always been a guy who’s gotten hitters out with his entire mix, not by being a fastball-dominant pitcher, not by relying exclusively on one pitch, but by mixing and using all his pitches in all parts of the zone and being hard to hit because he’s unpredictable,” Said Cherington. “He just has not had a feel for the entire mix this year. That’s sort of the end result.” You can read about the pitching matchup in our series preview.
Rays 8/31/14 Starting Lineup
- Wil Myers went 0-5 with two strikeouts and six LOB. Ouch.
- The other two Rays who were hit by pitches were Guyer in the seventh, and Hanigan in the eighth for a grand total of four.
- Tampa Bay is expected to call up Curt Casali, Brandon Gomes, and Steve Geltz. They also plan to activate David DeJesus Monday. Geltz will wear number 54, and the Rays will have to make a 40-man roster move to add him.
- On the subject of trading Yunel Escobar, Marc Topkin wrote, “Trading SS Yunel Escobar or even letting him go to the A’s via last week’s waiver claim might have been a popular move, including in some corners of the clubhouse. But the Rays had several reasons not to: They are confident he will play next season more like his stellar 2013 and less like this year; don’t fear him being an attitude or behavioral problem; didn’t feel they have anyone else in house to play short for what they expect to be a contending team (not comfortable that Ben Zobrist could handle it every day in a season he’ll turn 34, or that Nick Franklin is good enough defensively, or that either Hak-Ju Lee or Tim Beckham will be ready coming off major knee injuries); and weren’t likely to sign or acquire anyone as good for as little as they’ll pay Escobar ($5 million).”