The Tampa Bay Rays rolled to their third consecutive victory on Friday, beating up on Toronto’s R.A. Dickey in a 12-3 victory.
Trailing by two in the fourth, the team erupted for four runs against Dickey, leading the former Cy Young Award winner to say, “I threw some really bad ones tonight that they hit. Sometimes those get popped up or not swung at. Sometimes it’s great and sometimes you stink. Tonight it stunk,” following the contest. Evan Longoria finally got a pitch to hit and belted a double to left-center, while James Loney (2-5, 2B, HR, 2 R, 2 RBI) — fresh off the DL — homered to right to tie the game at two.
Later in the inning, Rene Rivera capped the rally with a two-run blast to deep centerfield — his first home run of the season. The Rays are now back above .500 after improving to 9-8 on the season.
Tampa Bay put up five more runs in the fifth, consequently chasing Dickey from the game early, and tagging the knuckleballer for his second straight less-than quality outing. Brandon Guyer was hit by a 69 MPH knuckleball to start the rally, scoring on Asdrubal Cabrera’s triple to left center. Longoria (1-4, 2B, R, RBI) followed with a sac fly to deep right-center, giving the Rays a dominating 6-2 lead. Loney beat the shift by hitting a bloop double to left, and Desmond Jennings followed with a hard single to center to move put runners at the corners.
Dickey departed after the Jays couldn’t turn double-play scoring Loney scored and extending the Rays lead. With Jeff Francis on the hill in relief, Kevin Kiermaier hit a high fly ball to deep left center. As outfielders Steve Tolleson and Dalton Pompey came close to colliding, the ball glanced off Tolleson’s glove. Forsythe and Kiermaier circled the bases, in what could aptly be described as a little league inside the park homer, capping a five-run rally.
Tampa Bay added to its lead in the seventh against Francis when Kiermaier singled home a run, and Tim Beckham (2-2, HR, R, 2 RBI) belted a two-run homer to left on a hanging breaking pitch. Oddly enough, all three of Beckham’s homer homers came in games he didn’t start.
The offensive outburst came in Smyly’s solid return to the rotation after being sidelined with shoulder tendinitis. The lefty put down the first 10 batters in order, five via strikeout (four swinging) in his 4-2/3 IP start. Although he allowed a solo homer to Devon Travis, as well as three more singles in the fourth, Smyly retired the next four batters.
Smyly threw 79 pitches and surrendered just the two runs on four hits — coming within one out of winning his first start of the season:
That’s baseball, said Smyly. I had a pre-determined pitch count and it stinks that it landed with one out to go in the fifth.
Smyly’s pitch count was 75-to-80 pitches.
Manager Kevin Cash told Marc Topkin (Tampa Bay Times) the decision to lift Smyly without getting the win was “on me,” due to a strict pitch count, also noting he apologized to the lefty:
Extremely unfortunate that his pitch count kind of got to the difficult decision-making zone, and that’s on me that we had to prioritize his health over his record at this point. I apologize to him, but that’s the plan we had in place and we wanted to stick to it.
Fastball (both two and four seam) 33 (26 strikes, 3 whiffs)
Change-up 8 (six strikes, 2 whiffs)
Slider 27 (18 strikes, 2 whiffs)
Cutter 11 (5 strikes, 1 whiff)
Smyly’s velocity range:
78 mph (off-speed pitch) – 94 (fastball)
Jose Dominguez got the last out in the fifth and threw a hitless sixth to earn his first MLB win, and Matt Andriese pitched the final three innings for his first career save. Other than a solo shot off the bat of Justin Smoak in the ninth, and a Danny Valencia double, Andriese looked excellent.
The Rays optioned Dominguez to Triple-A Durham after the game, corresponding by selecting LHP Everett Teaford from Triple-A Durham, and designating 1B Allan Dykstra for assignment in order to make room on the 40-man roster. Cash named Erasmo Ramirez as the starter Saturday, leaving a huge question in the balance: with a big lead on the scoreboard, why did he opt to go with Andriese Friday night instead of Ramirez? I think it is safe to say the confidence level in Ramirez is nil at best.
The New What Next
Erasmo Ramirez will take the hill for the Rays Saturday. He’ll pitch opposite of LHP Daniel Norris. Ramirez was roughed up by the Jays in his only start of the season, allowing eight earned runs and nine hits in 3-1/3 innings at Rogers Centre. Norris hopes to move past his self described dead-arm phase. And while he isn’t hurt, Norris’ velocity and movement on his pitches hasn’t quite been there so far this season. You can read about the pitching match-up (and so much more) in our series preview.
Rays 4/25/15 Starting Lineup
Souza Jr. RF
— Alex Cobb felt great after throwing 22 fastballs in his first bullpen session since being sidelined during spring training by forearm tendinitis. He was excited for the chance to be that much closer to a comeback, telling the Tampa Bay Times,
You put a little more into it when you’re on the mound. Your mechanics come together, and you try to re-teach yourself how to pitch again. It’s a big deal getting on there. …I feel like once you do have the opportunity to step a foot on the mound, you can kind of see the light at the end of the tunnel and you can kind of map out your progression.
— Closer Jake McGee is scheduled to throw off a mound Saturday. His rehab assignment is expected to start soon.
— Former, and beloved, Ray Ben Zobrist has been sidelined and will likely miss the future series at the Trop. Per columnist John Shea, Zobrist has a torn meniscus that will be trimmed. The injury came when he landed wrong on a slide into second. Zobrist is expected to miss four-six weeks, although he hopes to return sooner.