Looking Backward While Moving Forward: Rays Fall Again; Souza Placed on the DL; Moore to be Optioned

Steven Souza Jr. falls to the ground after he was hit by a pitch in the fifth inning against the Boston Red Sox. (Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

Steven Souza Jr. falls to the ground after he was hit by a pitch in the fifth inning against the Boston Red Sox. (Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

Matt Moore’s struggles continued on Saturday, as the Boston Red Sox beat the Tampa Bay Rays, 11-7. Despite an impressive rally from a six run deficit, the Rays have dropped their last three games to fall three games under .500 for the first time this season.

Boston took the lead in the first inning when Brock Holt and Xander Bogaerts singled to start the frame. Holt moved up to third on a David Ortiz fly-ball out to deep right. Hanley Ramirez followed by lining a sac fly to center off the Rays lefty for a one-run advantage.

Tampa Bay cut what was a 6-0 deficit to 7-6 in the top of the sixth. However, Boston answered right back in the seventh against the Rays third pitcher, Steve Geltz. David Ortiz walked to start the inning, and after Geltz retired the next two batters, he walked Travis Shaw, and then wild pitched the runners to second and third. Rusney Castillo then singled to right to score both runners, giving Boston a three-run cushion again.

Boston pounced on Moore in the second, who has now allowed 26 earned runs in 26-2/3 innings. Travis Shaw and Rusney Castillo each hit opposite field doubles for a 2-0 lead, then former Ray Ryan Hanigan singled to left, and Jackie Bradley Jr. walked to load the bases.

After a Holt plated a run on sac-fly, Bogaerts hit a two-run double to right to put the Red Sox ahead by five runs. Shaw, who was called up from Triple-A before the game, crushed a homer to right-center in the third for a commanding 6-0 lead.

Yet the Rays began a three inning rally in the fourth inning against Joe Kelly. Steven Souza Jr. singled to right and Evan Longoria walked. James Loney, who’s been in the throes of an ugly slump, lined a single to right, and Logan Forysthe followed with a two-run single to center. Kelly bouned back to retire the next three batters.

Tampa Bay continued their rally in the fifth by putting up a pair of runs. John Jaso reached on an infield hit, and Souza, who later left the game with a fractured hand (more on that below), was hit by a pitch. Longoria and Loney followed with back-to-back RBI singles to bring Tampa Bay within two.

Taking the hill in relief of Moore, Alex Colome allowed a two-out run in the fifth after he walked two batters with two outs, consequently loading the bases. Bogaerts singled up the middle to drive in a run, but The Outlaw cut down Bradley trying to score a second run, keeping the Rays within three.

Kevin Kiermaier then singled in Asdrubal Cabrera, who previously reached on a double, in the sixth to chase Kelly and bring the Rays within two. However, Kiermaier was gunned down by Hanigan at third later in the inning. Although he appeared to get in under the tag, the play was reviewed, and the call stood. That call was important, because Brandon Guyer followed with an RBI double against Justin Masterson to get the Rays within a run. Yet that was as close as the Rays would get.

Tampa Bay put two on with two outs in the eighth, but the right handed reliever Jean Machi fanned Guyer, the tying run, to end that rally.

All he does is produce runs… Shaw hit another in the eighth, this one being two-run homer off Kirby Yates, to cap the scoring for Boston. Forsythe, who also had a big three RBI day, hit his 12th homer of the season with two outs in the ninth for the final run of the game.

More on Souza

Souza has been placed on the 15-day disabled list with a fractured left hand.

The Rays outfielder went to the ground, and writhed in pain after being hit, although Souza stayed in the game after receiving attention from the athletic training staff. The pain increased after he left the game in the sixth inning, and he went for X-rays which revealed the fracture. To replace Souza on the roster, the Rays will recall OF Mikie Mahtook, who was most recently with the team Friday, got two hits and was sent down after the contest.

Because there is a DL move involved, Mahtook doesn’t have to spend the usual 10 days in the minors before being recalled.

Moore optioned to Triple-A Durham

The team also announced that Matt Moore (1-3, 8.78 ERA) will be optioned to Triple-A Durham, effective Monday, after struggling through Saturday’s start.

The plan is for the lefty to get his innings in without impacting the Tampa Bay, which is trying to stay in the AL wild-card race.

With several off-days in their schedule, the Rays will use a four-man rotation for the time being. The team, however, is expected to make an addition to the roster after Moore’s option to Durham is official.

Options may include: 1B/DH/C J.P. Arencibia (20 homers, .220 average), 1B/3B prospect Richie Shaffer, INF Nick Franklin, and INF/OF Taylor Motter (Known for defensive versatility and offense, hitting .311 with nine homers and 55 RBI).

The team also may check the waiver wire — Danny Valencia, just let go by Toronto, is an appealing option.

The New What Next

Jake Odorizzi (6-6, 2.76 ERA) will make his 17th start of the season on Sunday, opposite of LHP Wade Miley (8-9, 4.65 ERA). Odorizzi held the Tigers to one run on six hits and a walk in six innings on Tuesday. He has finished at least six innings 12 times in 16 starts this season, compared to 14 times in 31 starts in 2014. Miley has pitched well against the Rays this season, going 1-1 with a 1.50 ERA in two starts. You can read about the pitching matchup in our series preview.

Rays 8/2/15 Starting Lineup

Guyer RF
Butler DH
Longoria 3B
Forsythe 2B
Cabrera SS
Loney 1B
Mahtook LF
Kiermaier CF
Rivera C
Odorizzi RHP


Looking Backwards While Moving Forward: Gaffes in the Field Cost the Rays a Win

Erasmo Ramirez pitches during the first inning on July 31, 2015. (Photo Credit: Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

Erasmo Ramirez pitches during the first inning on July 31, 2015. (Photo Credit: Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

The Tampa Bay Rays lost a seesaw battle in Boston Friday night, dropping the first game of a three game set to the Red Sox by a score of 7-5. The Rays, now 51-53 on the season, allowed six two-out runs in a game mired by errors and sloppy play. It certainly isn’t what’s expected out of a team who has pitching and defense in its DNA.

Source: FanGraphs

Tampa Bay took a brief 1-0 lead in the first inning against lefty Eduardo Rodriguez after Brandon Guyer worked a leadoff walk, Evan Longoria hit a one out single to left, and Logan Forsythe accepted the second free pass of the inning. With the bases loaded, Joey Butler plated the run after beating out a potential double play ball to second. The team settled for only one run in the top of the inning, as Asdrubal Cabrera grounded to third for the final out.

The Red Sox countered in the bottom of the frame, tagging Erasmo Ramirez for three unearned runs. Ramirez quickly put down Brock Holt on three pitches by coaxing a grounder to first. But Forsythe* — playing first base vs. the left handed Rodriguez — and Tim Beckham committed errors on the next two plays which put runners on first and third with just one out. Boston took advantage on a single to right by Alejandro De Aza, and a two-run bloop single to left by Blake Swihart.

Down but not out, Tampa Bay added runs in the second and third innings, knotting the score at three. Mikie Mahtook doubled to left off the Green Monster, then moved to third on a strike three wild pitch which also allowed Guyer to reach first. Mahtook scored on a Steven Souza Jr. infield single to third, where wild throw across the diamond by Josh Rutledge pulled Mike Napoli off the bag. In the third, Asdrubal Cabrera singled off Rodriguez, then moved to second on a Beckham comebacker. Cabrera came around to score on a two-out single to right by Mahtook.

Boston retook the lead in the fifth after Holt led off the bottom of the inning by beating out a soft grounder to short. He advanced to second on a fielder’s choice by Bogaerts. Ramirez* came back to fan Ortiz for the second out, but Napoli walked to put runners on first and second. It was just the second walk allowed by Erasmo in the last 83 batters faced. DeAza followed with a single to right-center, giving the Red Sox a one run advantage.

Ramirez did not allow another run, and put together a 6 IP/5 H/4 R (1 earned)/2 BB/6 K line on 95 pitches (63 strikes). His 42.9% LOB for the game is telling — the fielding gaffes not only accounted for three of Boston’s six runs, but forced the Rays starter to make 33 pitches in the first inning alone; a little more than a third of Erasmo’s total pitch count. Yet Ramirez departed the game on the winning side of the ledger after Tampa Bay took a one run lead in the top of the seventh.

Butler accepted a four pitch leadoff walk off Robbie Ross. After Cabrera went down looking, and Beckham flied to center, Mahtook was hit by a pitch to put two on with two outs. Kevin Cash called upon the left handed bat of pinch hitter John Jaso and the gamble paid off. Jaso lined a two-run double to deep center off Junichi Tazawa (who entered in relief of Ross), and made his way to third on a throwing error by Blake Swihart. Kevin Kiermaier had an opportunity to drive in an insurance run, yet he went down swinging on three pitches to end the threat.

The lead, sadly, was short lived.

The typically dependable Jake McGee allowed two runs in the seventh. The lefty made quick work of Holt and Bogaerts on eight pitches, but Ortiz walked in after an 11-pitch battle and Napoli hit the sixth pitch he saw, a high 2-2 fastball, into the Monster seats in left field to put Boston ahead to stay. It was a good pitch, and how Napoli was able to power it (just barely) over the wall is beyond me. If the game was held at the Trop, we’d probably be talking about a warning track fly-ball.

Tampa Bay had a chance to regain the advantage in the eighth, after Souza and Longoria hit back-to-back singles off Tazawa. However, Logan Forsythe popped to right and Butler grounded into a 6-4-3 double play.

Boston tacked on another two-out run in the eighth. Swihart hit a one out double off the Monster that was misplayed by Mahtook. The left fielder tracked the ball and leaped at the very last moment, but the ball bounded off the wall toward Kiermaier, who quickly got the ball back to the infield. His trepidation in making contact with the wall surely played a part in how Mahtook attempted to make a play. Had he taken one or two stops to his left, then leaped, chances are the double would’ve been an out. Jackie Bradley Jr. moved Swihart to third on a fielder’s choice to first, and Brandon Gomes uncorked a two-out wild pitch.

Koji Uehara took the mound in the ninth. Though he allowed a leadoff walk to Cabrera, Uehara retired the next three hitters for the save.

The Rays had runners on base in each inning, and stranded 13 men on base.

*Erasmo wild pitched Xander Bogaerts to third with David Ortiz at the plate.

The New What Next

Matt Moore (1-2, 7.61 ERA) will make his sixth start of the season opposite of Joe Kelly. He hasn’t gone more than five innings in any of his starts this season, becoming the second in franchise history to start the season with five starts of five innings or fewer. Moore is 2-2 with a 3.86 ERA in five career regular-season starts against the Red Sox. Kelly got roughed up in his last start. He has pitched just once against the Rays in his career, giving up eight hits and five runs in a no-decision. You can read about the pitching matchup in our series preview.

Rays 8/1/15 Starting Lineup

Jaso DH
Souza RF
Longoria 3B
Loney 1B
Forsythe 2B
Sizemore LF
Cabrera SS
Kiermaier CF
Casali C
Moore LHP


— Mahtook was optioned back to Triple-A Durham after going 2-for-4 with two runs and an RBI. The problem last night was the defense, which begs the question, why haven’t the Rays promoted Richie Shaffer? According to Marc Topkin (Tampa Bay Times) Cash acknowledged that slugging INF prospect Richie Shaffer, who has 23 homers between Double A and Triple A, “has had a ton of success but it’s not quite the right time for him.”

I’d argue that by demoting Joey Butler until the September roster expansion, you’d have the opportunity to promote a true first baseman who could platoon with Loney on days when a lefty takes the mound. Instead, playing Forsythe at first (instead of a true first baseman) last night cost the Rays an error, run, and Erasmo a good number of pitches. Sizemore was recalled.


Rays 7/31/15 Starting Lineup, Etc

Sigh... three more games against this dick-hole. (Photo Credit: Stuart Cahill)

Sigh… three more games against this dick-hole. (Photo Credit: Stuart Cahill)

Rays 7/31/15 Starting Lineup

Guyer CF
Souza RF
Longoria 3B
Forsythe 1B
Butler DH
Cabrera SS
Beckham 2B
Mahtook LF
Casali C
Ramirez RHP


― Today’s lineup has Mikie Mahtook starting in LF, and no Kevin Kiermaier or James Loney versus the left handed Rodriguez.

― Unless you’ve been living in the hole and didn’t hear the news, the Rays traded RHPR Kevin Jepsen to the Minnesota Twins for a pair of Single-A pitchers. You can see a timeline of the rumors and moves at our non-waiver trade deadline thread.

― If you haven’t read our Rays/Red Sox series preview, rectify that now. If you have, make it a two-fer.


Rays Roster Moves: Non-Waiver Trade Deadline Open Thread; Team Trades Jepsen to Minnesota

Is Kevin Jepsen still on the trade bubble? Marc Topkin (Tampa Bay Times) seems to think so. (Photo Credit: USA Today Sports)

Is Kevin Jepsen still on the trade bubble? Marc Topkin (Tampa Bay Times) seems to think so. (Photo Credit: USA Today Sports)

Today is the day: the MLB non-waiver trade deadline comes to pass at 4:00 PM this afternoon. The Tampa Bay Rays already dealt OF/DH David DeJesus to the Angels for a Double-A prospect ― a move that was necessary in light of the team’s current (and future) roster jam. The question begs, what other moves might  Matt Silverman make?

As of 11:52 AM, no further moves have been made. That said, this piece is an open thread to document any rumors and moves leading up to the four-o-clock hour.

8:56 AM — Chris Cotillo (SB Nation) tweeted as of yesterday, the Dodgers, Giants, and Diamond Backs had interest in Nathan Karns:

Jon Heyman (CBS Sports) responded to Cotillo:

9:00 AM — Marc Topkin (Tampa Bay Times) wrote a piece where he opines that Kevin Jepsen is the most likely (if any) to be dealt by the deadline:

10:00 AM — Cotillo noted the interest in Brad Boxberger, Jake McGee, and Jepsen by the Houston Astros:

11:00 AM — DRaysBay posts trade deadline open thread piece:

11:21 AM — Per Topkin, all is still quiet on the trade front:

12:46 PM — The Orioles traded Zach Davies to the Milwaukee Brewers for Gerardo Parra. The Jays and O’s made their big moves; is it time for the Rays to do the same?

1:15 PM — It might be wise to not expect a big, lumbering power bat in return for Jepsen.

1:53 PM — Cotillo confirmed the Twins have an interest in Jepsen, and are in talks with the Rays, although the Mariners seem to be in hot pursuit as well:

1:57 PM — Per Rosenthal, Jepsen appears to be headed to Minnesota:

Cotillo concurs, although there has been no confirmation from Topkin or the team:

2:00 PM — And here’s your confirmation from Topkin:

In return, Tampa Bay will receive two low level minor league relievers.

Despite culling a 2.81 ERA, Jepsen’s K/9 is way down from 2014 (7.34) and his walks are up at 4.32 BB/9.

The reliever is reaching his final year of arbitration (2016), and is projected to receive a significant pay increase, somewhere in the ballpark of $5MM next season. For now, the trade frees up money to retain Jake McGee and Brad Boxberger, who are expected to remain in a Rays uniform.

2:28 PM — Cotillo made mention the two relievers the Rays will get in return:

RHP Chih-Wei Hu is 5-3 with a 2.44 ERA at Class-A Fort Myers. Tapia was 1-2 with a 3.60 ERA at rookie level and A ball for the Twins.

3:22 PM — Some peripherals on the Rays’ newest acquisitions:


The team also recalled Kirby Yates from Triple-A Durham Bull to take Jepsen’s place on the active roster. How long he lasts with the big league squad is dependent upon how well he pitches. Personally, I’d like to have seen Andrew Bellatti or Matt Andriese recalled.

It should go without saying, the loss of a good teammate, no matter how well he performs, does impact the other players on the roster:

3:34 PM — Jepsen also talked about the impact with Topkin:


The New What Next: Rays vs. Red Sox, Part Four — A Series Preview


Asdrubal Cabrera celebrates his home run with teammate Kevin Kiermaier during the fifth inning of a game against the Detroit Tigers on July 29, 2015. (Photo Credit: Brian Blanco/Getty Images)

The Tampa Bay Rays head to the sardine can like confines of Fenway Park, on the heels of a series win against another fringe contender, the Detroit Tigers. If the Rays have any hopes of playing relevant baseball through September, and into October, they will need to continue playing as they had the in the previous three games — if not a cut above. There is no better time to start than now, when they’ll begin a three game set against a very beatable Boston Red Sox.

I’ll give it to the Red Sox, they were able to avoid a four game sweep by beating the ChiSox by a fairly large margin in the series finale on Thursday. However, that does nothing to deter from the fact that Boston is 3-7 over their last 10, and 4-11 over their last 15. And when you take a look at their offensive peripherals (below), one thing becomes glaringly obvious: the mighty David Ortiz and company really are no better than the offensively strapped Rays. Did I mention that they own the worst record in the American League?

As I reflected below, the Rays could be sellers at the non-waiver trade deadline, as the team is reportedly listening on Nathan Karns. However, as Marc Topkin (Tampa Bay Times) wrote, It still seemed more likely that if they made a deal, it would involve a reliever, with RH Kevin Jepsen atop the list of candidates to be dealt. That being said, Kevin Cash has penciled in Erasmo Ramirez, Matt Moore, and Nathan Karns to start over the next three days.

Ramirez (8-4, 3.74 ERA) had a run of nine consecutive starts allowing two or fewer earned runs come to an end when he was touched for five runs and seven hits in 7-1/3 innings against the Orioles on Saturday. The righty yielded a grand slam in that start, although it should be noted that the slam was set up by two BABIP luck dragon hits, and a bad call by the home plate umpire. Moore (1-2, 7.61 ERA) struggled through five innings, allowing five runs on eight hits and two walks in a 5-2 loss to the Orioles on Sunday. Karns (6-5, 3.37 ERA) picked up his sixth win behind six strong innings Monday against Detroit, as he allowed one run on three scattered hits and no walks. He fanned three.

Rays and Red Sox series starters over the last 14 days (assuming none are traded).

Rays and Red Sox series starters over the last 14 days (assuming none are traded).

Rays and Red Sox offensive production over the last 14 days.

Rays and Red Sox offensive production over the last 14 days.

Rays and Red Sox by the numbers.

Rays and Red Sox by the numbers.

Eduardo Rodriguez: Rodriguez (6-3, 4.26) bounced back from a terrible outing by limiting the Detroit Tigers to one run and three hits in seven innings. The 22 year-old has allowed 22 runs over 10 innings in his three losses, and seven runs in 51-1/3 innings over his other eight turns. Rodriguez is making his first start against Tampa Bay and is 3-2 with a 5.35 ERA in six home starts.

Joe Kelly: Kelly (2-6, 5.94 ERA) is perennially just one adjustment away from being a solid starter. However, that one simple adjustment has evaded him this season, thus his gaudy ERA and 4.42 FIP (4.07 xFIP). The Rays blew him up to the tune of five runs on eight hits in his only start against Tampa Bay this season. Since that start, Kelly has allowed four runs or more eight times. A caveat: Cash is starting Moore opposite of Kelly. Key matchups: Asdrubal Cabrera (2-6), Logan Forsythe (1-2), Evan Longoria (1-3), Steven Souza Jr. (2-3, 2B, HR, RBI).

Wade Miley: After a pair of quality starts against the Astros and Angels, Miley (8-9, 4.65 ERA) crashed back to earth Tuesday, allowing seven runs in 5-2/3 innings against the White Sox. Nevertheless, Miley continued his streak of success against Tampa Bay on June 27, when the lefty held the Rays to two runs on five hits while fanning eight over 6-2/3 innings. Key matchups: Logan Forsythe (4-12, 2B, HR, 3 RBI, 2 BB), Rene Rivera (4-10, 2B, 2 RBI).


— Asdrubal Cabrera is 5-for-8 with five runs scored in his last three contests.

— According to Topkin, Bobby Wilson has been claimed on waivers by the Rangers. The Rays also made it official, OF Mikie Mahtook has been recalled to fill the spot on the roster left in the wake of David DeJesus. Mahtook, who went 3-20 with two homers earlier with Tampa Bay this season, and is hitting .236 in 76 games at Durham, with two homers and 26 RBI.

— Pablo Sandoval (left wrist) left Thursday’s game after being hit by a pitch and is listed as day-to-day.