The outcome of Friday night’s meeting under the big top couldn’t have been better…well, that is unless you’re a Yankees fan. With Chris Archer at the helm, Tampa Bay handcuffed the Bronx Bummers by a score of 7-2, effectively deflating the big-headed behemoth that is the Yankees — a team that entered the Trop in the midst of a five game winning streak, also having won eight of their last 10. The icing on the cake: Tampa Bay starts the day percentage points in first place in the AL East, following a late night Red Sox loss to the Dodgers.
Rookie of the year candidate Chris Archer was outstanding, holding the Evil Empire to two runs on four hits (one a triple), allowing only six base runners to reach in seven innings of work. Archer kept the ball down and induced 10 groundouts, impressively getting the Yankees hitters to expand their zone and getting swings and misses in the borderline regions of the zone. Incidentally, Archer fed a fastball hungry Yankees 69 fastballs (39 for strikes, seven whiffs) to great effect, also leaning on a deadly slider which he threw 39 times (29 for strikes, five whiffs). The rookie RHP was the beneficiary of a few line drives hit to fielders — a credit to the spreadsheeters upstairs and in the dugout who had the fielders placed perfectly, ultimately robbing the Yankees of more than a few hits. Case in point, the seventh inning.
Archer found himself in an awkward position two outs in the inning. Though he’d pitched well, Archer was over 100 pitches and seemed to be tiring, missing the plate with his fastball and allowing back-to-back base runners on a walk and a single. With two men on and two outs, Chris Stewart hit a hard liner to deep left-field that looked like a double for sure. But the newly acquired David DeJesus ranged far back, and to his left, and snagged the ball just before crashing into the wall.
In fact, the night was full of excellent defensive plays. In the second inning, Yunel Escobar made an excellent play on an Eduardo Nunez chopper to short. He barehanded and threw, all in one motion, and got Nunez at first by half a step. A ridiculous play by all accounts, yet one that he’s been making all season. He made a similar play in the ninth to get the much less speedy Alex Rodriguez.
Then in the third, Archer allowed Brett Gardner to reach on a HBP. An eager Gardner took off for second and Curtis Granderson hit a liner to right that looked like it would drop. A charging Matt Joyce made a shoestring grab for the first out, and easily doubled Gardner off first. It should be mentioned, Jamey Wright picked off the eager Gardner in the eighth with a beautiful move to first before he came set.
Offensively speaking, Matt Joyce got things started in the second inning, reaching on a soft liner over A-Rod’s head. Kelly Johnson followed that up with a liner up the middle, setting the table for Jose Lobaton. With a hunger that can only be satiated by ice cream, Lobi jumped all over a hanging slider and bounced it off the right field foul pole, giving the Rays a 3-1 lead. Then in the bottom of the fourth, Evan Longoria and Matt Joyce went yard, hitting back-to-back homers to give Tampa Bay a 5-1 lead. As if three home runs weren’t enough, Ben Zobrist led off the fifth with a solo shot to left, giving the Rays a commanding six run lead — one they would not relinquish.
The New What Next
David Price will go for the series win against Grimmace in game two of the Rays current three-game set. Sabathia is the recipient of a +8 ERA and 24 earned runs against the Rays this season. You can read about the pitching match-up here.
Rays 8/24/13 Starting Lineup
- Roberto Hernandez looked good in relief last night, putting together a 1-2-3 ninth inning on eight pitches. Ian Malinowski of DRaysBay summed up his outing well, “Some of you will doubtless be happy to know that the “Roberto Hernandez Experiment” (man do I hate that term) has come to an end. After providing over 130 innings of 3.50 xFIP starting pitching, Hernandez has now official joined the bullpen. He worked a one-two-three ninth inning, producing three groundouts. He didn’t gain anything on his velocity (it was in the low 90s) in this outing, but if he can adapt to the rhythms of being a reliever, he will be successful working his sinker/changeup combo to hitters on both sides of the plate. With Matt Moore apt to return soon, the bullpen just got stronger.”
- Archer’s stripes are greater than the Yankees pinstripes: He is 3-0 with 1.23 ERA — the first rookie since Kevin Brown in ’89 with three wins in one season against the Yankees.
- Ben Zobrist last night tied the Rays team record, held by Akinora Iwamura, of 75 straight errorless games at second base.
- Tonight is the ninth meeting between Price and Sabathia. Price is 5-1 with a 2.35 ERA, and Rays have won 7-of-8 so far.