Sunday’s 7-6 — game 162 — victory can be summed up in five words: A tale of two halves. Tampa Bay charged out the gate, tagging a pair of pitchers (Todd Redmond and Neil Wagner) for six runs in the first inning, but almost, predictably, blew it in the late innings. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again — a win is a win is a win. However, this win was bittersweet. The pitching and offense looked dominant in the front five, yet they didn’t resemble a playoff team in the bottom four. Be it as it may, the Rays will head to Texas Monday for a one game tie-breaker, ahead of the AL Wildcard game Wednesday, in Cleveland. A few game peripherals are below.
- The Rays were able to tag Toronto for seven runs on nine hits, however the damage incurred all took place prior to the sixth inning. As Neil Solandz pointed out in the post game show, Tampa Bay didn’t get a hit after the second out of the fifth inning. Nevertheless, Wil Myers got the game started with a one out double to center off St. Petersburg native, Todd Redmond. James Loney followed, slapping an RBI single to shallow right, giving the Rays a quick 1-0 lead. Evan Longoria plated Loney all the way from first on a double to the right-center gap, subsequently getting into scoring position for Ben Zobrist who moved him to third on a fielder’s choice. With two outs and a runner on the hot corner, Delmon Young singled up the middle, giving the Rays a three-run lead. A two out walk of Matt Joyce ultimately spelled the end of Redmond’s day, but the Rays weren’t done. They welcomed reliever Neil Wagner with a two-RBI double off the bat of Jose Lobaton, and Yunel Escobar joined in on the fun, driving Lobaton home on a single to shallow center before he got caught trying to stretch the base hit into a double. The Rays remained quiet until the top of the fourth when Wil Myers drove in an important insurance run on a double to left field. With the exception of a Delmon Young single two outs into the fifth, the Blue Jays wouldn’t allow another base runner for the balance of the game.
- Meanwhile, Matt Moore started the game on shaky ground, but after a three walk first inning, the Rays other LHP put together a decent outing — that is until the sixth when he gave up four consecutive hits, including a two RBI double. Moore was ultimately credited with three earned runs after Jake McGee, who inherited runners when he came on in relief of Moore one out in the sixth, gave up a sac fly to JP Arencibia.
- Jake McGee, Joel Peralta, and Fernando Rodney teamed up to increase the blood pressure of every Rays fan, after they combined to give up three runs in 3-2/3 innings of work, shrinking the Rays lead to a run. Granted the Rays pitchers got squeezed by home plate umpire Paul Schrieber (more on that below), the A+ bullpen looked very hittable after relinquishing six hits. Also, both Peralta and Rodney had a hard time locating their pitches, teaming up to give three free passes to the Blue Jays. Overall, all four pitchers allowed Toronto to go 5-8 wRISP.
- Joe Maddon got tossed for the fifth time this year after he argued balls and strikes with Schrieber in the seventh inning (you can see his strikezone plot below). Joe Maddon walked to the mound “to talk with Peralta,” after Joel gave up a five pitch walk. As Ian Malinowski of DRaysBay so eloquently put it,
Home plate umpire Paul Schreiber clearly wasn’t having a great day, but his unpredictability was benefiting Toronto more than Tampa Bay. Outside pitches to Rays lefties were all being called strikes, while a Blue Jay batter got a ball in much the same spot, and Jays righties were given balls all around the edge of the zone from pitches that should have been strikes.
Maddon had nothing to say to Peralta, but he waited on the mound until Schreiber came to break up the conference, and then turned to him in full conspiracy theory mode. “WHAT THE F**** IS GOING ON?!?! WHAT THE F**** IS GOING ON?!?!” And with that he was tossed.
When a manager has made all the correct moves, and his team is still in the woods, he has only one recourse, only one way to make a statement, both for his team and to the umps. It’s fair to say that tonight Maddon pulled out all the stops.
The New What Next
It’s come down to this. If the Rays can beat LHP Martin Perez (10-5, 3.55 ERA) and the Rangers, they’ll head to Cleveland for a one game play-in against the Indians. And if they lose? Welp… David Price will take the bump for the Rays.
The 22 year-old Perez last appeared in a game against the Astros, throwing seven innings of six hit/three run ball. He’s been good this season, with 11 of his total 19 starts coming as rulebook quality starts. Even then, he’s only given up four or more runs five times this season. Perez has been described as a, “fastball/curveball/changeup pitcher who has also started mixing in a slider. His fastball is generally in the low-90s, though it can get up to 96, and the potential he shows with his change — described as his best pitch when he signed in 2007 — is one of the reasons the Santana comparisons have been invoked. On the other hand, Perez still has major issues with the consistency of his command, and he has had a tendency to react poorly to adversity and let problems snowball on him.”
Nelson Cruz has been reactivated and is expected to be in the lineup tonight. Cruz has been good against Price, posting a career .500 BA/.571 OBP/1.000 SLG/1.571 OPS slash line against, with two homers and four RBI in 12 total at-bats. Adrian Beltre, Alex Rios, and Elvis Andrus have all put up good numbers against Price as well.
Both teams have been very good in the last 10 games of the season (after mediocre play throughout much of August and September), though it could be argued that the Rangers may have an edge after sweeping both the Astros and Angels to end the season on a seven game winning streak. Then again if one thing holds true, it’s that the Rays, historically, tend to ratchet things up against teams that are considered to be contenders — their 47-37 record against contenders (both from this and last year) speaks to that.
Rays 9/30/13 Starting Lineup
- From Jonah Keri’s lips, to gods ears, “Other factors to watch tonight: Desmond Jennings hurt/might not start vs LHP & Jesse Crain being hurt taxes an overworked Rays bullpen.”
- Tampa Bay has called up OF Kevin Kiermaier to add defense with Jennings limited. Jesse Crain has been added to the 60-day DL. Kiermaier will wear No. 41, and is sharing a locker with September rookie of the month, Wil Myers.
- The stats, the Rays starters have posted nine quality starts (in 28 opportunities) in the month of September.
- “The key to their (the Rangers) recent run,” writes Marc Topkin, “Has been a re-emphasis on the running game, which can be particularly vexing to the Rays. They have 13 steals in 14 tries during the seven-game streak.”
It Bears Mentioning…
Roger Mooney of the Trib did some interesting sleuthing on the subject of one-game tiebreakers. He found:
The Rays and Rangers meet for the 14th tie¬breaker game in major league history.
Seven of the previous 13 winners went on to the World Series, and four of those seven won the World Se¬ries.
All-time, road teams have gone 4-5 in one-game playoffs, but during the Wild Card era they are 1-5.
Here’s a breakdown:
1946 STL def. BRK, 2 games to 0, for NL pennant STL won WS
1948 CLE def. BOS, 8-3, in 1 game, for AL pennant CLE won WS
1951 NYG def. BRK, 2 games to 1, for NL pennant NYG lost WS
1959 LAD def. MIL, 2 games to 0, for NL pennant LAD won WS
1962 SF def. LAD, 2 games to 1, for NL pennant SF lost WS
1978 NYY def. BOS, 5-4, in 1 game for AL East title NYY won WS
1980 HOU def. LAD, 7-1, in 1 game for NL West title HOU lost NLCS
1995 SEA def. CAL, 9-1, in 1 game for AL West title SEA lost ALCS
1998 CHC def. SF, 5-3, in 1 game for NL WC CHC lost NLDS
1999 NYM def. CIN, 5-0, in 1 game for NL WC NYM lost NLCS
2007 COL def. SD, 9-8 (13 inn), in 1 game for NL WC COL lost WS
2008 CWS def. MIN, 1-0, in 1 game for AL WC CWS lost ALDS (to TB)
According to the Elias Sports Bureau, Del¬mon Young will become the third player all-time to play in three different tiebreaking games or series, joining Dodgers outfielders Carl Furillo (1946, 1951, 1959) and Duke Snider (1951, 1959, 1962).
The following Rays players and staff have experienced a tiebreaker game in the majors:
Don Zimmer, managed the 1978 Red Sox, lost to Yankees, 5-4 on Oct 2, 1978 to decide the AL East
Joe Maddon, first base coach, 1995 Angels, lost to Mariners, 9-1 on Oct 2, 1995 to decide the AL West
Delmon Young, LF, 2008 Twins, lost to White Sox, 1-0 on Sep 30, 2008 to decide AL Central…Young was 0-for-3
Delmon Young, LF, 2009 Twins, beat Tigers, 6-5 in 12 innings on Oct 6, 2009 to decide AL Central…Young was 1-for-5
Fernando Rodney, RP, 2009 Tigers, took the loss vs. Twins in the 6-5, 12-inning game on Oct 6, 2009 to decide AL Central…Rodney’s line: 3-IP, 4-H, 2-R/ER, 3-BB, 1-SO, 48 pitches
Jesse Crain, RP, 2008 Twins, lost to White Sox, 1-0 on Sep 30, 2008 to decide AL Central…Crain did not pitch
Jesse Crain, RP, 2009 Twins, beat Tigers, 6-5 in 12 innings on Oct 6, 2009 to decide AL Central…1.1-IP, 1-H, 1-R/ER. 0-BB, 2-SO