The Tampa Bay Rays once again found themselves with a tally in the win column, after they blasted the Toronto Blue Jays by a score of 10-3, Saturday. Led by Kevin Kiermaier’s hitting and Jake Odorizzi’s solid pitching, the Rays reclaimed fourth place from the Red Sox (who lost to Houston), and start the day just 5-1/2 games behind the third place New York Yankees. Odorizzi got the start in place of scheduled starter David Price, who was feeling ill. Price will take the mound this afternoon, opposite of RA Dickey, in series finale.
Kiermaier put the Rays on the board in the first inning, thanks to his nonstop hustle. Outlaw hit what should have been a single to the right-center gap, stretching it into a double when Anthony Gose was slow to return the ball to the infield. Ben Zobrist moved him up to third on a deep flyout to center, then scored on a sac-fly — also hit to deep center — by Matt Joyce, giving the Rays an early 1-0 lead.
However, the tandem of Kiermaier and Brandon Guyer gave the run right back to Toronto in the top of the second inning. Kiermaier made a diving attempt on a liner off the bat of Colby Rasmus, but it glanced off his mitt and bounded to the left-center wall. Guyer, who should have been backing up the play, was slow to react, forcing Ben Zobrist to come all the way over from right field. By the time Zobrist returned the ball to the infield, Rasmus found himself at third with a one out triple. Juan Francisco plated Rasmus with a sacrifice fly hit to left to even the score at one apiece.
The Jays took the lead in the fourth inning when Odorizzi gave up an unearned run. Jose Bautista reached on a grounder up the middle to Sean Rodriguez, who made an excellent play to field the ball. But Rodriguez skipped his throw to first, past James Loney, and allowed Bautista to take second base. Odorizzi gave up back-to-back singles to Dan Johnson and Dioner Navarro, consequently moving Bautista to third before plating the go-ahead run. Yet Odorizzi limited the damage and retired the next three batters in order (two on strikeouts).
One thing was certain from the get go: Hutchison was very hittable Saturday night. Because of it, the Rays didn’t wait around to tie the game. Loney led off the bottom of the fourth with a single to left. Then, after a Brandon Guyer strikeout, Yunel Escobar singled to left, moving Loney to second, and bringing the mighty bat of Jose Molina to the plate. Molina, who found himself chasing the Mendoza line, brought Loney home and advanced Escobar to third, with a single to center that Rasmus — much like Kiermaier on his triple — dove for, and missed. With two outs in the inning, Molina stole second base — his second steal in as many attempts this season. His fleet of foot running was rewarded with a standing ovation from the crowd. Kiermaier struck out to end the inning with just one run to show for the three hits.
Sean Rodriguez made for his earlier fielding miscue in the top of the fifth inning, when he threw out Jose Reyes at second. Reyes attempted to stretch a single into a double after Zobrist couldn’t come up with a catch in shallow right field. Always one to back-up plays, Rodriguez hustled out to right field and gunned down Reyes. Toronto challenged the out call, but it was confirmed upon review.
The Rays buried the Blue Jays in the bottom of the sixth inning. The first three hitters of the inning reached to load the bases for Molina, who — as he’s wont to do — struck out. Joe Maddon made a controversial call when he pinched Sean Rodriguez for Cole Figueroa to face the righty. However, the move instantly paid dividends with an RBI walk that scored Loney, signaling the end of Hutchinson’s night. J.A. Happ, who was initially scheduled to start this afternoon’s contest, was called upon to get the Jays out of the jam. However, he did anything but.
Kiermaier stepped into the box and hit a single to left field that scored Guyer and Escobar, giving the Rays a 5-2 lead. Zobrist continued the hit show with another RBI single to left, scoring Figueroa. Matt Joyce was next, hitting another RBI single, this one scoring two more runs to give the Rays a commanding 8-2 lead. Evan Longoria (hitless in five at-bats) popped out to second for the second out of the inning, and Loney (batting for the second time in the inning) ended the sixth with a strikeout.
My question going into the seventh, how might the extended sixth effect Odorizzi? After all, the previous inning took 20+ minutes from the beginning to the end. That question would be answered when Blue Jays got a run back in the top of the seventh with a rally of their own, started by a one out double to center off the bat of Francisco. And though it looked like Odorizzi could get out of trouble without any damage after a he struck out Steve Tolleson, Gose singled to right — scoring a run, and cutting the Rays’ lead to five. Odorizzi’s night was done after walked Reyes with two outs. His final line: 6.2 IP/6 H/3 R/2 ER/2 BB/7 K 107 pitches (66 K). Joel Peralta came on in relief and struck out Melky Cabrera to end the threat.
The Rays hit parade continued in the seventh. Guyer led off the inning with a double to left, and Escobar followed with a single. Molina, who worked a good at-bat, walked to load the bases for Figueroa. Finding himself in a deja vu like scenario, Figueroa struck out for the first out of the inning. But the Outlaw came up big once again, singling to right and scoring Guyer from third. With the bases still loaded, Zobrist hit a sac-fly to center, scoring Escobarand giving the Rays a 10-3 lead. The inning ended with a Longo pop-out to second, but the ultimate damage was done.
Peralta remained in the game for the first two outs of the eighth inning, however a Navarro double spelled his doom. Maddon called upon Juan-Carlos Oviedo to retire Rasmus and end the inning.
Finally, Erik Bedard (the Rays’ scheduled starter for Sunday if Price couldn’t go) pitched the ninth inning. And despite allowing a pair of hits with no outs, Bedard retired the next three batters without allowing a runner to score.
The New What Next
The Rays look to end the symbolic first half of play with a win against the Blue Jays. A victory would find the Rays with a 21-12 record, extending back to June 11th. Price will take the bump, opposite of RA Dickey. Need I really do a writeup on Dickey?
Rays 7/13/14 Starting Lineup
- Jeremy Hellickson has been optioned to Double-A Montgomery in order to make room on the roster for Jake McGee who has been reactivated from paternity leave. Hellickson will make a start Monday for the Montgomery Biscuits, then make another start with the Stone Crabs. He’s expected to rejoin the Rays for the Boston series at home.
- That was quick. After the news spread of Price’s start this afternoon, he was replaced on the All-Star roster by former Ray Fernando Rodney.
- Your tweet of the day,
Jennings not in the lineup but says “I’m straight.” Should be ready for Friday
— Matt Baker (@MBakerTBTimes) July 13, 2014