It’s been a long day, my softball team lost our season finale, and I’m tired. In lieu of a proper game recap, what follows are a handful of highlights and a dash of lowlights.
― Erasmo Ramirez got the start for the Rays, and aside from a third inning solo shot off the bat of Rajai Davis, the righty sailed through the front five on just 72 pitches (a little more than 14 pitches per inning). Ramirez racked up nine strikeouts (six whiffs) in that time, while allowing three base runners on three hits. The happy one’s change-up was really working for him, and he made a couple of the Tigers’ big boppers ― namely Ian Kinsler and Miguel Cabrera ― look foolish on a pair of well located off-speed offerings.
― Tampa Bay answered Davis’ third inning solo-shot by putting up a run in the fourth. Mikie Mahtook tripled with one out, and Evan Longoria followed by lining a sacrifice-fly to left.
― The Rays took a 5-1 lead in the sixth. Kevin Kiermaier worked a leadoff walk off Matt Boyd, and J.P. Arencibia moved him to third on a single to right. Grady Sizemore both drove in a run and moved Arencibia to third on a single to right. Tampa Bay scored three more runs on singles by Longoria, Logan Forsythe, and Tim Beckham. The lead, however, was short lived.
― Down by one in the seventh, Arencibia doubled to right with one out. One out later, Daniel Nava hit an RBI single into shallow left, giving Tampa Bay a one-run advantage. The lead, again, was short lived.
― Down by one once more in the ninth, Kiermaier (walk), James Loney (single), and Nava (walk) loaded the bases off the command strapped reliever Bruce Rondon. Seriously, the Rondon couldn’t hit the zone if his life depended upon it, due in part to the fact that he literally has four different deliveries ― all featuring variations of his release point. With the bases loaded and only one out, Longoria hit a sacrifice-fly to deep right field.
Davis attempted to catch the ball, but it popped out of his glove, which allowed all of the runners to safely move up 90 feet. Tigers’ skipper Brad Ausmus requested a review of the play at third when it appeared that Nick Franklin may have lost contact with the bag on his slide. Yet the call was confirmed; safe at third. Unfortunately Tampa Bay only converted one run in the frame ― something that would ultimately prove costly.
― Nathan Karns made his first appearance out of the ‘pen, and promptly gave up a solo homer to J.D. Martinez on his second pitch. He settled in (kind of) from there, and though he got into a pair of heart pounding, high leverage situations in the ninth and tenth innings, Karns miraculously wriggled his way out by making those all important big pitches when he desperately needed to.
― Brandon Gomes took over in the eleventh, and despite giving up a single to Davis ― subsequently balking him to second and allowing him to move to third on a fielder’s choice ― he too wriggled out of a high leverage situation, coaxing an inning ending popper out of Kinsler.
― 18 of the Rays 37 outs against Detroit came via the strikeout.
― The wheels fell off for Ramirez in the fourth after he allowed three consecutive hard hit singles to Anthony Gose, Kinsler, and Cabrera. Erasmo got yanked in favor of Matt Andriese, who walked in Martinez after a nine pitch at-bat. Andriese has now allowed 12 runs (11 earned) in seven appearances and 10-1/3 innings since August 19th. Why Cash chose to go with him in this situation is well beyond the realm of my understanding. This may explain things, if just a little:
One tidbit to explain how #Rays used bullpen tonight – neither Geltz nor Cedeno were available
— Marc Topkin (@TBTimes_Rays) September 9, 2015
― Alex Colome took the mound with the bases loaded and one out in the sixth. Colome put down Nick Castellanos looking, then hit James McCann in the head by a pitch, plating a run. He then gave up a two-run single to left, allowing Detroit to knot the game at five. Longoria was apparently unaware that the runner had stopped on the play. He cut off the throw from Sizemore to the plate, and never noticed that the runner stopped halfway between home and third. He, instead, caught McCann in a rundown between second and third, consequently allowing a run to score.
― I will continue to pound the drum for the Rays’ postseason chances as long as they are mathematically still in the running. However, I am also quite rational and I am fully aware that Tampa Bay has anywhere from a 1.6% (per FanGraphs) to 3.5% (per Baseball Prospectus) chance of a playoff berth. Let’s just call it incredibly cautious optimism.
The New What Next
Jake Odorizzi will take the mound for the Rays, opposite of Kyle Lobstein in the series finale. Odorizzi allowed just three hits over 6-2/3 innings in his last outing, but all three were home runs. The righty yielded just one run over six innings against the Tigers in July. Lobstein will make his second start since returning from the DL. He allowed six runs on eight hits over 4-1/3 innings last Saturday against Cleveland. You can read about the pitching matchup in our series preview.
Rays 9/9/15 Starting Lineup
― Look at the bright side Rays fans, my softball team ended the season nine games under .500.
― Steven Souza Jr. (fractured left hand) will play at least through Wednesday night’s second playoff game with the Charlotte Stone Crabs, then be re-evaluated in hopes of rejoining the Rays on Friday. Souza Jr. went 3-5 and hit a three-run homer Tuesday night.
― The Rays 10 consecutive extra-inning losses are the most in a single season since the Houston Astros dropped 11 in 2012. Much uglier, Tampa Bay is 17-30 in games decided in the seventh inning or later, while they have either held a lead or came back to tie the score in 12 of their last 13 losses.