The Tampa Bay Rays battled back from a four-run deficit on Monday night, yet Cleveland’s bullpen held on to the lead as the Rays fell 8-7. A botched double play in the first inning ended up being the difference, turning a one-run inning into a five-run frame.
Yeah, it was one of those games. Source: FanGraphs
Tampa Bay took a one-run lead in the first inning on a two-out double to right by Logan Morrison. However, Cleveland answered in the bottom of the inning after Chris Archer walked two of the first three batters, bringing Carlos Santana to the plate. Santana drove in a run on a line-drive single to left-center, knotting the game at one a piece.
And while Archer coaxed an RBI grounder out of Edwin Encarnacion for what should have been an inning ending 6-4-3 double play, the tandem of Tim Beckham and Brad Miller conspired to only get one out on the play. After the Rays’ ace walked Jose Ramirez, Lonnie Chisenhall hit a three-run homer to right for a 5–1 lead.
The Rays played from behind from that point on, scoring in each of the next three innings.
In the second inning, Kevin Kiermaier drilled a solo shot to right – his second in three days.
Kevin Kiermaier launches a solo home run to right field, bringing the Rays within three runs in the top of the 2nd inning
Steven Souza Jr. plated the Rays’ third run on a sac-fly in the third, while Brad Miller hit an RBI single in the fourth – chasing Carlos Carrasco, who left due to a pectoral injury after 3-2/3 innings.
Nick Goody entered with a pair of runners on, and promptly allowed a run-scoring double to Evan Longoria, making it a two-run affair. Yet after Terry Francona called for an intentional walk of LoMo, consequently loading the bases, Souza grounded out to short on the first pitch he saw, ending the threat.
Cleveland maintained its lead partly because of the ‘pen, yet also because Archer was unable to put together a shutdown inning until the fourth. Cleveland scored an unearned run in the second on a throwing error by Derek Norris, who tried to gun down Michael Brantley as he swiped second, and another in the third on a Yan Gomes’ two-out double to left-center, scoring Jose Ramirez from first.
Archer ultimately settled in, but not before the damage was done. He walked five of the first 15 batters he faced, and three of them scored. He lasted just five innings and allowed seven runs (six earned) on four hits and a career-high six walks.
The Rays battled Cleveland’s impressive bullpen, which entered the contest with a stellar 1.84 ERA. Kiermaier singled and Norris doubled to left with two outs against Nick Goody in the sixth, but Boone Logan retired Corey Dickerson on a fly out to left to strand a pair of runners in scoring position.
Then in the seventh, Bryan Shaw walked two batters with one out, yet Andrew Miller entered the game in relief and struck out the next two hitters – as he’s wont to do – ending the threat.
Miller did allow his first run of the year in the following inning when Morrison hit a sac fly to deep center, scoring Dickerson – who initially made his way to third on a single by Miller and a fielder’s choice by Longoria – after he reached on an eight pitch walk. That put Tampa Bay within a run, but Francisco Lindor hit a two-out homer to right off Jumbo Diaz.
Of interest, BA noted that Diaz’s pitches have been flat of late. While he has increased his fastball velocity over the last month, he also has lost some of the horizontal movement on his four-seamer and changeup. Something to ponder moving forward.
The extra run of support played crucial, as Peter Bourjos hit a two-out homer off Cody Allen to make it a one-run contest. Yet Allen ultimately notched his 10th save after Norris fouled out in foul territory to end the game.
The New What Next
Tampa Bay and Cleveland play game two of three on Tuesday when Jake Odorizzi (2-2, 2.61 ERA, 4.64 FIP) takes the mound opposite of Danny Salazar (2-3, 5.20 ERA, 3.52 FIP).
Odorizzi has been on fire since his mid-April return from the disabled list, going 2-1 with a 1.50 ERA in three starts, while allowing just nine hits and three walks over 18 innings. The 27 year-old right-hander has now allowed two runs or fewer in each of his past five appearances — and just six over 25 innings — giving him the ability to lower his ERA to 2.61. He isn’t racking up the strikeouts (a 7.0 K/9 and 21.3 strikeout percentage speak to that), although Odorizzi is in a nice groove.
Salazar lasted just 2-2/3 innings in his last start, allowing five runs on five hits and two walks. He’s allowed 11 earned runs and a opponent’s average of .429 in the first inning — the inning in which the Rays have done their most damage this season. Salazar’s velocity also has lagged during the opening frame, on average hitting 94.9 mph. Compare that to 95.5 mph in the second. Per ESPN, Salazar’s slow start to games might have something to do with his pregame routine:
The 27-year-old has posted a 6.35 ERA since adding that part of his workout sometime around last year’s All-Star break, when he was dealing with arm issues. Before installing this technique, Salazar would register 20-25 throws before calling himself game-ready. With the weighted balls, he would only need a few. Regaining his previous rhythm could help him on his way to pitching more like his FIP (3.55) than his ERA (5.20).
Key matchup: Peter Bourjos (1-4)
You can read about the pitching matchup, and so much more, in our series preview, and I’ll post the starting lineup upon availability.
Rays 5/16/17 Starting Lineup
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