Tuesday night’s game was a somber affair to say the least. Most of you are well aware of the incident with JA Happ in the bottom of the second. Because of it, I don’t feel the need to attach a video of Desmond Jennings’ line drive comebacker, it’s readily available elsewhere. Nor do I feel the need to recount what happened, that too is readily available elsewhere. In the end, it’s not our intention to capitalize – in a manner of speaking – off the events of the night before.
It would be foolish to ignore what happened; it happened and it was potentially devastatingl,. However, I’m not a fan of fetishizing dramatic events – within context, of course (after all, I’m going to rip Marty Foster a new one in a moment). JA Happ’s family, as well as the Blue Jays organization, needs an opportunity to collect their thoughts. They however do not be bombarded from all angles.
Moving forward. Roberto Hernandez was on fire Tuesday night, though his solid start was almost for naught. Sure, it was a start that he could build off of. But Tampa Bay would ultimately blow another sizable lead, dropping their second consecutive game to the Blue Jays by a score of 6-4. I know… This scenario is as annoying as it is redundant.
Throwing 102 pitches over all, Hernandez scattered five hits over six innings, avoiding the big inning he’s been want to get into this season. The Rays RHP mowed over the Jays hitters, striking out seven by leaning heavily on his sinker (44 pitches, five whiffs) and his changeup (36 pitches, six whiffs), both of which looked very sharp.
But that’s where the pitching compliments come to an end.
There was much consternation surrounding Rays bench coach Dave Martinez’ choice to remove Hernandez prior to the seventh inning. To be honest, I’m pretty certain this was the worst move that could be made. I get it; the Rays like to play the game of match-ups. I also get that they’re trying to build the confidence of the pitchers in the pen. However Hernandez showed little to no signs of taking his foot off the collective throats of the Jays hitters. Even at 102 pitches, he should have been given the opportunity to start the seventh inning. If we’re talking about building a pitchers confidence, then what better way is there than to allow him the opportunity pitch deeper into the game?
Hernandez was replaced with Jake McGee in the seventh, a move that was comical in the tragic sense. To say that opposing hitters have had a field day against McGee would be an understatement. A quick look at his splits show that opposing hitters have posted a .316 BA/.435 OBP/.632 SLG/1.087 OPS slash line against McGee in medium leverage situations, and a .500 BA/.533 OBP/.786 SLG/1.319 OPS slash line in high leverage situations. This isn’t to imply that his outing Tuesday night was of the high leverage sort – at least from the get go. However, McGee has given up 15 runs in 12 innings of work thus far, including 13 in medium and high leverage situations. If this wasn’t a medium or high leverage situation from the get go, it certainly was by the end of the inning. What seems inconceivable to me is that McGee was called upon instead of Cesar Ramos. Even from the perspective of a fresh-armed lefty vs. an overused lefty, Ramos represented the most logical choice.
What’s more, why — even when they did bring him in — was he used only to bail out Kyle Farnsworth, who again looked atrocious on the mound? To be honest, why Josh Lueke isn’t in the pen instead of Farnsworth is well beyond my realm of understanding. This isn’t a validation of Lueke as a person, rather an acknowledgement of how well he’s doing in Triple-A. But that’s beside the point.
A valid point regarding the use of Farnsworth in the eighth was made by the folks at DRaysBay,
“Why was Kyle Farnsworth pitching? When McGee was in trouble, Martinez (correctly in my opinion) got Gomes up in case he needed a pitcher who could get out of a jam. Now generally, you want your good pitchers to pitch with a one run lead in the eighth inning. Also generally, the set of pitchers who can get out of jams, and the set of pitchers who are “good,” overlap almost entirely. There is no valid reason for Gomes to be the choice to potentially get out of the seventh inning but not to start the eighth.”
It’s become abundantly clear that the Rays are going to need to pour over their facts and figures, and re-evaluate the pitching staff. 20% of the season has passed, and though the season is still relatively young, there have been no indications that the pen is getting any better. The question stands: Where do we go from here?
The Rays once more clustered all their runs into one inning, this time the bottom of the second. Sean Rodriguez led things off with a double, which was followed by a James Loney base hit up the middle, putting runners on the corners. Jose Molina laid a bunt down the first base line, but Edwin Encarnacion was able to charge it and throw the ball home ahead of Sean Rodriguez who ran on contact. SeanRod pulled off a beautiful slide, by all accounts (cough, with the exception of Marty Foster) evading Encarnacion’s tag as he reached back with his left hand, brushing the back corner of the plate.
Good old Marty Foster called Rodriguez out at the plate; saying said that he never touched the bag. The replay clearly showed that he had, and the slide marks across the bottom portion of the plate clearly showed the same. Maddon came out to argue the call but eventually got tossed in the first of two Foster ejections. And so it goes, Marty Foster struck AGAIN!
Recall a month back when Joe Maddon said “thatcan’t happen in aMajor League game,” following the initial Marty Foster third strike botched call. Yeah, well… it DID happen again — at least in a manner of speaking. Foster has now made the Rays the recipients of a pair of bad calls in the span of a month. There hasn’t been any on word whether Foster retracted his latest botched call. Nevertheless, the evidence against Foster speaks volumes. I can only hope that he faces some sort of repercussions from another horrendous call. From us to you Marty Foster, FUCK YOU!
Yunel Escobar hit a single to put a runner back into scoring position, before the Desmond Jennings line come-backer that scored two runs. Ryan Roberts singled in the fourth Rays run of the inning, and the game.
I’m not certain what deflated the Rays momentum last night. I can say that Tampa Bay has made a habit of knocking around pitchers early on, only to go into a state of dormancy thereafter. Is Tampa Bay getting a lot of hits and scoring a lot of runs? Absolutely. In fact they’re ahead of the pack in runs scored in the first inning. They’re aggressive early on, a tactic that has benefitted the Rays well.
To be honest, there really aren’t any reasons why the Rays shouldn’t or can’t win those games. Why they don’t is another story. It goes without saying that a consistent offense that scores a lot of runs over the course of a game is preferable to one that just scores a lot of runs. The proof is in the pudding. Though scoring a lot of runs overall is great, it does nothing to sustain a team’s momentum. Case in point: Game 162. The Yankees lost the momentum and the Rays pounced. Look to last two games as further evidence.
The New What Next
It’s another day. Matt Moore will take on Ricky Romero and the Jays, as he seeks out his sixth win of the season.
Rays 5/8/13 Starting Lineup
- Good news, JA Happ has been discharged from the hospital. Per Bay News 9, J.A. Happ’s condition was upgraded from fair to good Wednesday morning, according to hospital officials. He suffered a head contusion and a laceration to his left ear.
- Per Marc Topkin, JA Happ will address the media at 5:00 PM today at the Trop. Desmond Jennings, who hit the ball, plans to call Happ this afternoon, and will talk to media after that.
- According to Roger Mooney of TBO, David Price said he would be open to trying some kind of protective head gear for pitchers.
- Joel Peralta has an off-day today. He mentioned that Maddon told him he could have worn beach gear to park.
- Here’s a nice nugget of joy from Miami. Because of lacking attendance, the Marlins are closing off the upper deck for some weeknight games. Per Neil deMaus of Field of Schemes,
“That’s right: On top of setting a record last year for worst attendance in the first year in a new stadium, and being dead last in the league in attendance in their second year (though three American League teams have even sadder ticket sales, including the second-place Kansas City Royals), now the Marlins are using a cost-saving trick — and no matter what the team says about a “better fan experience,” this is mostly about saving operating costs by shutting down concession stands and restrooms in underused areas — that has previously been used only by teams demanding new stadiums because their old ones are so poorly attended.”