The Rays took the second game of a three game set against the Blue Jays Tuesday, on a very stormy night in St. Petersburg. With the sound of thunder echoing inside a 2/3 empty Tropicana Field, the Rays — led by Matt Moore — lowered a 5-1 boom of their own on the hottest team in baseball, scoring runs in the second, fourth, and seventh innings, while stifling a Blue Jays team who could get runners on, but couldn’t get them over and home.
Prior to Tuesday night’s game, Rays’ starters hadn’t posted (at least) three consecutive quality starts since April. And as of the third inning, it looked as though Matt Moore wouldn’t even make it to the fourth inning, after he loaded the bases with only one out. Moore faced a growth moment. The Rays lefty not only got out of the inning unscathed after striking out Rajai Davis and Colby Rasmus, he also went on to pitch three more innings while wringing up five more Jays along the way.
Moore’s control was awful at times, however he was dominant when he was able to regain it. Allowing seven base runners on two singles and five walks in the front three innings alone, Moore walked six Jays overall. He also struck out 11 and made big pitches in the third and sixth innings, when Toronto was threatening with runners in scoring position.
Moore varied his velocity, throwing fastballs as slow as 90 mph — though with a lot of movement — and the Blue Jays simply couldn’t hit them. He ultimately mixed his pitches well — hitting his spots — and the rest is history. Moore’s breakout: two-seam fastball (38 total/23 for strikes/4 whiffs), four-seam fastball (42 total/23 for strikes/9 whiffs), Change-up (15 total/eight for strikes/2 whiffs), slider (25 total/16 for strikes/7 whiffs).
Offensively speaking, Tampa Bay seemed perfectly comfortable against Mark Buehrle, tagging him for four runs on eight hits (seven singles) and four walks.
James Loney singled with one out in the second inning, ultimately advancing to second on a wild pitch. Jose Molina followed that up by walking. With two on and two outs, Desmond Jennings hit a well struck single to left field, plating Loney and knotting the game at one apiece. The Rays would go on to score three more runs fourth inning.
Jose Molina walked to open the inning, while Kelly Johnson was hit by a pitch to put a runner in scoring position with no outs. Jennings followed that with another single, consequently loading the bases and setting the stage for a special play at the plate. Sean Rodriguez hit a fly ball fairly deep to right field and Molina tagged, running as though a bear was chasing him from behind. Jose Bautista fired a strike home, by all accounts beating Molina to the plate. At this point things got a bit cloudy — after all, the outfield isn’t necessarily the most conducive location to see the intricacies of a play at the plate. I’ll leave this part to Ian Malinowski of DRaysBay,
“Molina is apparently trickier than he looks. He ran to the outside of the baseline, kept his left side back, and reached over the tag with his right arm to touch the base, safe.
John Gibbons came out to argue, but the call was correct, and Bautista looked decidedly unamused. Both runners were able to advance on his ambitious throw, and both would come around to score, on a sacrifice and a single.”
Tampa Bay would tack on an insurance run in the seventh inning, following a James Loney and Yunel Escobar double steal to move into scoring position. It should be noted that this wiped the slate clean of a triple-play threat with Molina at the plate. Malinowski went on to mention in his account of the game,
“Molina grounded straight to Encarnacion at third. Brian Anderson revealed that Rick Odioso, the statistician in the booth for the broadcast, pointed out that the double steal may have kept the Rays out of a triple play. He was absolutely right. With Loney at first and Molina running, I’ll go so far as to call it a probably triple play.”
Escobar would score on a softly hit Kelly Johnson ground-out to second.
The New What Next
The Rays will go for the sweep with Roberto Hernandez on the mound. Robo will share the rubber with knuckle-baller RA Dickey. You can read about the pitching match-up here.
Rays 6/26/13 Starting Lineup
Jeremy Hellickson worked into the seventh inning for the first time since May 22nd, in the Rays 4-1 handling of the Toronto Blue Jays Monday night, snapping Toronto’s 11-game winning streak. Don’t look now, but the Rays are starting to look toasty once more. Not only have they strung together back-to-back victories, they’ve also won four out-of-their last six games. The game also went down in the annals of Rays history and lore, after James Loney, Wil Myers, and Sam Fuld hit back-to-back-to-back solo shots for the first time ever in the Trop. More on the game below, in a segment that we like to call The Good, The Bad, and The Argyle: A Bulleted Summary of the Game.
- I suppose that Jeremy Hellickson’s outstanding outing is a good place to start. Prior to last night, the Blue Jays averaged 6.7 runs per game over the span of their 11-game winning streak, while the pitching staff held opponents to 2.21 runs per game over the same span of time. In short, the Jays were scoring — on average — four runs per game more than their opponents. Enter Helly. The Rays needed a good start out of Jeremy Hellickson going into this series, and a good start they got in spades. Relying heavily on his four seam fastball (45 total/26 for strikes) and his change-up (32 total/22 for strikes/4 swinging), Hellickson posted seven solid innings of one hit/four walk ball, keeping a powerful Blue Jays team off-balance all night. Toronto had an incredibly hard time of making solid contact, while Colby Rasmus seemed to be the only Jay that was able to get anything started after walking three times and seeing almost a quarter of Helly’s total 96 pitches.
- A historic second inning… Suffice to say, Esmil Rogers has been very good this season, only allowing five runs in a span of 30-1/3 innings dating back to May 14th. Rogers has also been incredibly tough against righties this season — so tough, I made the errant assumption that Myers wouldn’t hit his first homer at the Trop last night. Because of this, I neglected to purchase tickets to his home debut, choosing to attend tonight’s game instead. Whoops! Little did I know (going into last night’s game) that Tampa Bay would make history. It all started with one out in the bottom of the second. James Loney saw two pitches — a ball and a strike (on a foul) — before Rogers left a meatball in the heart of the zone, consequently finding a home 402 feet away in the right-center stands. Wil Myers followed Loney, crushing a massive 428 foot blast to dead center in his first at-bat under the big top. Then Sam Fuld, the last person that you’d assume would go yard, hit a 356 foot line drive shot to right-field, giving the Rays an early 3-0 lead. Loney, Myers, and Fuld made history, hitting three consecutive homers under the dome for the first time in franchise history.
- More on Myers. Myers became the third Rays player to homer in his first plate appearance at the Trop. He is also the first player in franchise history with seven runs batted in his first eight career games. Furthermore, Myers is currently in the throes of a seven game hitting streak. Both Joe Maddon and Sam Fuld seemed to be in awe of the Rays rookie, saying,
“That’s right up there. To see a young man come in like that and do that on his first at-bat, I thought it was outstanding…The crowd reaction was really wonderful also, and Wil responded. Like I said, he’s not really impressed with this whole thing yet.”
“Mine’s more like a thud,” Fuld said. “His is like, ‘Whack.’ It’s true.” … “I guess, in some respects, hitting a grand slam [at Yankee Stadium] and then hitting a ball 1,000 feet to center field, it’s pretty impressive.”
- If I must… It’s only fair to acknowledge Luke Scott’s contribution to the game. Mister .243 BA blooped an RBI double into short left-field, scoring Matt Joyce from second.
- Fernando Rodney put together his second consecutive save. It wasn’t as pretty or dominant at the preceding save, however Rodney’s 22-pitch outing was much more impressive than many of his earlier appearances. Rodney allowed only one base runner on a JP Arencibia come-backer that Rodney couldn’t snag, while striking out two and inducing the game ending Maicer Izturis ground-out to second.
- How refreshing, I’ve nothing to report!
- Alex Torres’ scoreless streak comes to an end. Let’s be realistic, the scoreless streak had to come to an end at some point. However, that he was able to get out of a bases loaded mess with minimal damage, while also getting Bautista and Encarnacion to ground out and pop out, was HUGE. Though Torres was visibly upset with himself as he made his way back to the dugout, he can be confident that he did an outstanding job of making the big pitches that ultimately quelled the Jays uprising.
The New What Next
Matt Moore will attempt to follow a solid 6-1/3 IP/4 H/3 ER outing against the Yankees, with another quality start against Mark Buehrle and the Blue Jays Tuesday night at the Trop. You can read about the pitching match-up here.
Rays 6/25/13 Starting Lineup
- Zobrist is tonight’s DH, while Kelly Johnson gets the start at second base.
- David Price will make another rehab start in Port Charlotte Wednesday. Price mentioned that things could hopefully move in the right direction if he felt good on Thursday. Joe Maddon was a bit cautious to conclusions about Price’s forthcoming activation from the DL, stressing that nothing would be decided until Price was re-evaluated after this start.
- Peter Gammons tweeted, “Wil Myers makes Trop debut and they can’t draw 12,000?” We, in turn, wrote a response.
- Cough, an 11-game win streak isn’t always indicative of how good a team is.
Rays 6/24/13 Starting Lineup
1. Matt Joyce LF
2. Ben Zobrist 2B
3. Luke Scott DH
4. Evan Longoria 3B
5. James Loney 1B
6. Wil Myers RF
7. Sam Fuld CF
8. Jose Lobaton C
9. Yunel Escobar SS
SP Jeremy Hellickson RHP
The quotes (below) are from from the Alex Cobb post-injury press conference, held Monday afternoon. All of the quotes come courtesy of WDAE (via Twitter) unless otherwise noted:
“Cobb says he remembers seeing the ball coming back, then laying on the field.”
“Cobb says he’s had nightmares about being hit again, doesn’t know about fear of getting back on mound.”
“Cobb says today has been best day by far. Says headaches had led to vertigo and nausea.”
“Cobb says reports that he won’t pitch this year are not accurate, says he’ll pitch again when his body is ready.”
“Every day I wake up happier that I feel better than the day before.” — Alex Cobb
“Cobb says having his father’s calming reaction with him helped.”
“Alex Cobb says he’ll pitch again this season. I hope so. Sounds like he needs to overcome a huge hurdle mentally as well as physically.” — Tom Krasniqi/WDAE
- Don’t forget: You can read the Rays/Jays series preview, including tonight’s pitching match-up, here.
- “We saw Wil-power today, but 9 walks by our pitchers was too much to overcome.” – Joe Maddon
- “This is just on the pile of tough ones,” said manager Joe Maddon, whose pitchers surrendered a season-high nine walks, including two with the bases loaded. “There’s been a lot of them. Way too many. That’s the difference between us really being one of the elite right now and not. We’ve just permitted too many late games to get away from us…That’s not to say that I don’t have confidence. I do, in all these relief guys. It’s unfortunate. It’s just unsettling that we can’t get these guys right on a consistent basis like in the past, because they’re really good.” – Joe Maddon
- “It’s got to be the toughest one…After Myers did what he did and we came from behind against CC and we had a two-run lead in the seventh inning, we shouldn’t let that go.” – Joel Peralta
- “I don’t know — none of my pitches were working for me…I was trying really hard to throw the ball over the plate and I couldn’t find a way to do it. Bad day.” – Joel Peralta
- “Today was 11th time Rays have blown a lead in the seventh inning or later, and 9th time they’ve lost after doing so.” – Marc Topkin
- “It’s a pretty cool situation to be able to do that after an intentional walk…I was pretty excited. It was just awesome to be down two strikes and the crowd cheering and then to be able to put a swing like that on it. It was just a cool experience.” – Wil Myers
…At least Torres was pretty great once more, posting a 1.2 IP/0 H/0 R/0 BB/3 K slash line on 26 pitches (16 for strikes). Torres now has an overall 20 IP/4 H/0 R/5 BB/27 K line. Whoa!
And this is a pretty awesome view of Wil Myers grand-slam:
The New What Next
I’m at a point where typing certain things has become redundant. For example, I again find myself typing the same thing I’ve typed, time and again, when the Rays have found themselves in a similar scenario. Tampa Bay look to salvage the final game of their four game series with the Yankees. They can come home with a 3-and-4 record for this road trip with with a win Sunday. I wouldn’t really call that a moral victory by any stretch of the imagination, though it’s better than a 2-and-5 road record. Chris Archer will attempt to string together — at least — a six inning start against Ivan Nova (2-1, 5.16 ERA). You can see Archer’s numbers here.
Rays 6/23/13 Starting Lineup
- Per Jonathan Gannt, Chris Archer has thrown his slider 104 times this year, allowing only 1 hit against it. Opponents are 1-for-22 with 10 strikeouts in plate appearances ending with a slider. Furthermore, the Rays have scored only three runs with Chris Archer on the mound over his previous four starts. Only three pitchers have lower run support in June — Shields being one.