My cousin and I got into a conversation about Coors Field about a week ago. In our conversation, we talked about how the thin air effects pitches, tending to flatten them out. Whereas a well struck pop-fly may find a home in the outfield stands. If ever there was a case where movement and location on pitches were at a premium, while the ball jumped off the bat, it was last night.
Four home runs were hit Friday night: A pair by Nolan Arenado and Michael Cuddyer for the Rockies, and a pair by Desmond Jennings and Kelly Johnson. And though all four were well struck, none of them looked like homers off the bat. At the same time, there were other well struck fly-balls that seemed to be carrying, but stayed in the park. Confusing and somewhat disorienting? You betcha!
Neither Matt Moore nor Jeff Francis had particularly good stuff on the mound. Both pitchers had their own issues with command, and both only lasted five innings. Batters weren’t missing Moore’s fastball, and the thin air made it hard to locate his curveball. Moore walked four and only struck out three, while giving up a season high four earned runs. And even though Francis gave up fewer hits and only walked one Tampa Bay batter, exited the game early with the score tied at four.
Jamey Wright, Joel Peralta, Jake McGee, Brandon Gomes, Kyle Farnsworth, and Fernando Rodney would all come on in relief, and hold a very potent Rockies to the four runs they scored in the front five. That doesn’t mean there weren’t opportunities for them to break the game wide open though. In the bottom of the eighth inning, the Rockies put up a serious threat against Jake McGee, something that we Rays fans are very familiar with this season.
McGee struck out Arenado to start the inning, but then promptly gave up a pair of singles to give Colorado a chance to score the go ahead run with runners on first and third and one out. Troy Tulowitzki was sent in to pinch hit in the pitchers spot. Joe Maddon chose to intentionally walk Tulowitzki and let McGee pitch to Eric Young, ultimately getting a strikeout swinging. Gomes came in to face Jordan Pacheco, striking him out looking on a 2-2 breaking pitch and escaping the bases loaded jam. Farnsworth handled the ninth inning to send the game into extra innings.
With the game tied at four a piece, Ben Zobrist lead off the Rays half of the inning by stinging a low liner up the third base line for a double. Evan Longoria promptly followed that up with an RBI single to center, handily scoring Zo from second. With a runner at first and one out (following a Matt Joyce pop-out to center), Kelly Johnson connected for a 406 ft. homer to center, giving Tampa Bay a three run lead. Enter Fernando Rodney.
Rodney gave up a 1-0 single to Arenado to start the inning, but quickly got two outs; a fielder’s choice to erase Arenado, and a Jonathan Herrera strikeout looking. Reid Brignac came in to pinch hit, jumping all over an 0-2 high fastball for a hard hit single to right. With runners at the corners and the tying run at the plate, Rodney struck out Eric Young looking on a 3-2 pitch up in the zone.
The New What Next
David Price will look to get his second win of the season against Jon Garland, in an 8:10 game at Coors Field Saturday. You can read more on the match-up here.
Rays 5/4/13 Starting Lineup
- My eyes were not deceiving me, Fernando Rodney threw a 79 MPH breaking pitch last night.
- Matt Moore hit a sacrifice grounder in the fifth, moving Jose Lobaton to third. DesJen would plate a pair of runs in his next at-bat on a 422 ft homer to center.
- Ben Zobrist and Evan Longoria combined to go 3-8 with a pair of runs and a pair of runs batted in. Have I mentioned how much I like seeing them clumped together in the lineup?
- The Rays were 4-9 wRISP Friday night, driving in a pair of two-out runs, while holding the Rockies to 0-9 wRISP.