Here’s the deal: some of us — like me — are busy making hurricane contingencies. As with the Tampa Bay Rays’ players who live locally, this is a scary moment for all of us who live in the area. With that in mind, below is Neil Solondz’s (Rays Radio) recap of Friday night’s disaster of a ball game:
Chris Archer’s return to the mound on Friday got off to a tough start at Fenway Park. The Rays (70–72) and Archer never recovered, and fell to Boston 9–3 in the opener of a three-game set against the top team in the AL East.
Archer was coming off a Saturday start where he left after allowing a pair of homers in Chicago due to forearm tightness. This outing didn’t go better, as Archer allowed a ground single to center by Dustin Pedroia, then an opposite field bloop double to Andrew Benintendi to begin the first. Then Mookie Betts tucked a fly ball to right just inside the Pesky pole for a three-run homer, and a 3–0 Boston lead.
Archer eventually threw 33 pitches in the first. After a scoreless second and third, Archer didn’t retire a batter in the fourth.
Rafael Devers looped an opposite field double to left, and Christian Vazquez dumped a single to right where Steven Souza Jr injured his left knee near the side wall. With men at the corners, Jackie Bradley Jr singled to center, making it 4–0. Dustin Pedroia grounded to first, and Logan Morrison mishandled it for a run-scoring error. Benintendi then hit a grounder through the middle for a 6–0 advantage, chasing Archer.
Chaz Roe entered, and walked Mookie Betts to load the bases. Hanley Ramirez singled to left, scoring a run to make it 7–0. Mitch Moreland then grounded into a double play, scoring the fifth and final run of the frame, to make it 8–0.
Tampa Bay went without a hit until the fifth against Drew Pomeranz before Brad Miller singled through the middle with one out. Jesus Sucre then belted a two-run homer into the Monster seats in left, his fifth, to get the Rays on the board.
The Rays had one chance to get back into the game against the Red Sox bullpen in the seventh. Joe Kelly allowed a pair of hits and a walk, and left with the bases loaded and one out. Addison Reed got former Mets teammate Lucas Duda to loop a ball to right. Dustin Pedroia had the ball go off his glove, but recovered to force Kevin Kiermaier at second, as a run scored to make it 8–3. Evan Longoria then hit a bullet toward second that Pedroia extended for and caught, ending the inning.
Christian Vazquez doubled in a run with two out in the seventh against Ryne Stanek, answering that tally and capping the scoring. That was the only run allowed by the Rays bullpen over the final five innings, but the damage already had been done.
The New What Next
The Rays will play the second game of the series on Saturday night with Matt Andriese (5-2, 3.78 ERA, 4.79 FIP) starting opposite Chris Sale (15-7, 2.85 ERA, 2.20 FIP).
Andriese made his first start since returning from a hip injury on Sunday … although he posted a dud, allowing five earned runs on six hits over five innings against the Whit Sox. Nevertheless he earned a win in Boston on May 14th in a 5.0 IP/4 H/2 ER/4 BB/5 K outing.
Sale is in the throes of his first slump of the season, having lost three of his last four starts. The southpaw was tagged for three solo homers, including the first back-to-back job he’s allowed in his big league career. The Yankees did as they are wont to do, fouling off a ton of balls, working over Boston’s ace, and subsequently getting his pitch count up to 109 before he was pulled from the game. The left-hander’s experienced a drop-off since the calendar flipped to August, performing to a 4.57 ERA, while allowing seven homers in as many starts. As it was written elsewhere, his performance in 2017 mimics a career pattern of tailing off in the final two months of seasons past; Sale’s ERA is under 3.00 from April to July in his career, but it’s over 3.00 in August and closes in on 4.00 in September/October. Still, Sale is 3-1 with a 2.48 ERA in four starts against Tampa Bay this season. Key Matchups: Curt Casali (2-6, 2B, HR, RBI), Kevin Kiermaier (3-8, HR, 3 RBI, BB), Logan Morrison (5-14, HR, RBI, BB), Trevor Plouffe (14-49, 2 2B, 2 RBI, BB), Wilson Ramos (3-6, 2B, HR, 3 RBI)
Rays 9/9/17 Starting Lineup
— Souza is out of tonight’s lineup as expected, with Peter Bourjos taking over in right field, and Cesar Puello holding it down in left.
— Two of Marc Topkin’s (Tampa Bay Times) takeaways from last night’s game were particularly on point:
- Starting RHP Chris Archer turned out not to be such a good thing. Archer unexpectedly deemed himself ready to go after leaving last Saturday’s start due to forearm tightness, but though he looked healthy, he didn’t make it out of the fourth inning.
- Losing RF Steven Souza Jr., who left Friday’s game with a bruised left knee, for any amount of time will be a serious blow to the lineup. Though slumping of late, Souza has been one of the Rays’ most productive players overall and is capable of getting hot and carrying them.