It wasn’t particularly the prettiest of victories, especially late in the game, however we can walk away knowing that the Rays achieved the preferred outcome Saturday, in a 4-3 victory against the Blue Jays. The hottest team in baseball (Fox said so, so it must be true) did just enough to keep the wolves at bay, taking the second game of their three game set as they prepare for a sweep against a somewhat erratic RA Dickey, Sunday. Jeremy Hellickson walked away with his fifth consecutive win, while Fernando Rodney racked up his 23rd save of the year — a save that almost wasn’t.
All of the Rays scoring came in the first and third innings. Desmond Jennings led off the game with a walk and was subsequently moved to second on a Ben Zobrist bunt single to third. Jennings was then able to move to third on an Evan Longoria pop-out to right-field. With runners on the corners, Wil Myers hit a sac-fly to shallow right, plating Jennings just ahead of the throw to the plate from Bautista. Ryan Roberts ended the inning by grounding into a fielder’s choice to third, forcing Zobrist at second.
Sam Fuld led off the third inning with a single to center. Desmond Jennings laid down the second successful bunt base-hit of the game, quickly applying the pressure to a flustered Mark Buerhle — who ultimately loaded the bases with no outs, on a Zobrist walk. Evan Longoria joined in on the fun by driving in his 54th RBI of the year on a fielder’s choice to short. Though Zobrist was forced at second on the fielder’s choice, he did a great job of breaking up the potential double play to put runners on the corners with only one out. Wil Myers was next. The Rays rookie drove in his second run of the day on a single to left, moving Longo to second. Ryan Roberts capped the scoring on a fielder’s choice to short, forcing Myers out at second. Longo moved to third, and scored on a throwing error Brett Lawrie.
The Rays would threaten wRISP in the fifth, seventh, and ninth innings, however Buehrle and Casey Janssen did an outstanding job of making the big pitches when they needed to, keeping the Jays in the game until the end. Tampa Bay ultimately went 1-8 wRISP, stranding 10 men on the bags.
In an act of total journalistic laziness, here are some by the inning observations of Jeremy Hellickson, Alex Torres, Joel Peralta, and Fernando Rodney. Yes, I did just cut, paste, and modify posts from our Tumblr account.
-Helly gave up two runs on five hits and three walks, putting together a respectable five inning outing. It’s not technically a quality start, though he is still in line for a win — assuming the Rays take second game of this series.
Alex Torres quickly retired the Jays in order, on a Colby Rasmus strikeout (looking at a 95 MPH fastball), and a pair of ground-ball outs.
-Rays are up 4-2 going, into the seventh.
-Holy drop on that change-up, Torres! Wow! Watching the Rays LHP reliever wring up Lawrie (looking at a well placed change-up) was a thing of beauty.
Torres ultimately retired the side in order once again, this time needing only seven pitches to do so.
-As the graphic designer of the blog so eloquently put it, “I really don’t want to like Luke Scott, but he’s making it hard on me.” Luke extended his hitting streak on a base hit, however he was deleted on a failed bunt attempt by the Rays fastest (editors note: the first “s” in fastest could have easily been replaced with a “t”) runner, Jośe Molina.
Could someone please inform Molina that he, under no circumstances, should square up to bunt. Never ever.
-Maddon begrudgingly pulled Alex Torres in favor of Joel Peralta, after Torres walked two consecutive batters to start the bottom of the eighth.
Torres’ final line: 2+ IP/0 H/0 R/2 BB/2 K.
-After Peralta walked the first batter he faced to load the bases, he sat down the following three Jays in order. The final out of the inning was particularly filthy, a full count JP Arencibia strikeout (swinging) on a filthy splitter in the dirt, preserving the Rays two run lead.
-A walk and a base hit; runners on the corners with two outs. Rodney’s fraying a few nerves…
-Rodney incurs an error on come-backer by Encarnacion, plating a run and cutting the Rays lead to one.
-Rodney gets a pop-fly out to end the game.
The New What Next
Tampa Bay will send Chris Archer to the mound to face RA Dickey, in the final game of this three game set. A win against Dickey would give the Rays an enormous wave of momentum going into Boston, Monday. You can read about the pitching match-up here, and we’ll post the starting lineup when it becomes available.
Rays 7/21/13 Starting Lineup
- Per the Tampa Bay Rays, “Fernando Rodney tied Danys Baez (71) for second place on the Rays career saves list, in just his second year as closer. Roberto Hernandez leads with 101.”
- A question of what the Blue Jays “fans” were chanting during the game was posed. The picture below should clear that up:
- Wil Myers is not in the lineup because of a sore left wrist. Per Roger Mooney of the Tribune, “Myers said (his) wrist is sore. Hurt it sliding yesterday. Expects to play Monday in Boston.” Maddon said Myers could pinch-hit today if needed.
- The prognosis on Yunel Escobar: He’s fine. Escobar’s thorough workout is over, and Joe Maddon said he expected to play in Boston, though Maddon doesn’t know if he’ll start Monday. Ryan Roberts has been sent back to Durham.