The Tampa Bay Rays started off well Monday night, but the Yankees took control in the fourth inning against Jake Odorizzi — and due to a crucial fielding error by Trevor Plouffe — as they rolled to a 5-1 victory.
Tampa Bay took a 1-0 lead in the second inning against C.C. Sabathia, after Lucas Duda drew a leadoff walk and Adeiny Hechavarria shot a two-out triple to left-center, scoring a run.
When he’s not doing this…
He’s hitting a go-ahead triple. 🐾 pic.twitter.com/QjHXDDY3xR
— Tampa Bay Rays (@RaysBaseball) September 11, 2017
And while the Rays had multiple chances to tack on runs in the third, fourth, fifth, sixth and eighth innings, they couldn’t push a runner across the plate. Their best opportunity came in the third inning after Peter Bourjos and Kevin Kieirmaier (swinging) went back-to-back with bunts against a hurler that notoriously has a hard time fielding them.
— X-Rays Spex (@XRaysSpex) September 11, 2017
— X-Rays Spex (@XRaysSpex) September 12, 2017
Sabathia was clearly frustrated, and it appeared that the Rays were on the cusp of breaking things open. Yet with none out and two on, Plouffe struck out looking. Then on a double steal, Kiermaier overslid second bag and was called out. Finally, Evan Longoria grounded out to end the inning.
Sabathia was lifted after 4-1/3 innings, having allowed eight baserunners but just one run. With two on and one out, David Robertson struck out Longoria on a 92mph full count at the bottom of the zone, then fanned Duda to end the fifth. Sound the trombones, the Rays went 0-9 wRISP.
Meanwhile, Odorizzi looked really good the first time through the order. He reverse pitched New York’s batters early in those at-bats, leaning on his curveball (since he didn’t have his splitter), then blew them away with a well located fastball that coaxed a good number of swings and misses. Though he held the the Yankees hitless over the first three innings, they came back to answer big in the fourth.
I’ll let Ian Malinowski (DRaysBay) spin the tale of woe:
Then the second time through the order came around in the fourth inning, and Odorizzi walked Aaron Judge on four pitches, and followed it up by allowing a line drive single to Gary Sanchez. That put runners on the corners with no outs. Danger.
Didi Gregorius sent a fly ball to right that sacrificed home one run, but Odorizzi struck out Starlin Castro, and it seemed like he was going to escape. Matt Holliday hit a grounder down the third base line, and Trevor Plouffe (Longoria was the designated hitter, Plouffe was in the field) had lined up. But the ball went under his glove for a run-scoring E5.
Jacoby Ellsbury reached via catcher interference*, and Todd Frazier hit a no-doubter three-run homer.
*It’s real difficult to see a catcher’s interference from the outfield. Ellsbury hit a foul ball towards us, everyone in front of us stood up, and when they sat back down, Ellsbury was standing at first base rather than in the box. We decided catcher’s interference was the only thing it could be, but it took us a while. “What just happened?” moments are rare when you’re watching on TV. They’re kind of fun.
Odorizzi’s night was done fter after 52-pitch fourth inning. For context Odo threw 43 pitches in the first three innings alone. He went to three-ball counts in just two of the first nine at-bats, but that number blossomed to seven three-ball counts to seven of the last 10 batters he faced.
The bullpen did its job after Odorizzi, although the damage had been done. Chaz Roe, Andrew Kittredge, Ryne Stanek, Chase Whitley and Sergio Romo held the Yankees off the board over the final 5-1/3 innings. Roe was the luckiest of the five, getting away with five consecutive misplaced pitches against Starling Castro and Matt Holiday, but coaxing a weak grounder to third, and a flare to right.
Friends, I’ve tried to stay optimistic and beat the drum for Tampa Bay’s playoff hopes, but with 17 games left to play, one simple truth stands out: this is not a postseason contending team. Just do us a favor, at least look like you’re having fun!
The New What Next
Tampa Bay will play the second game of the series Tuesday night with Blake Snell (3-6, 4.36 ERA, 4.44 FIP) on the mound. He’ll pitch opposite of Sonny Gray (3-4, 2.74 ERA, 4.06 FIP).
Snell allowed six runs on seven hits (including two homers) across four innings in a no-decision against Minnesota on Wednesday. He fanned seven and did not issue a walk. Snell reportedly did not feel like he used his fastball well enough, which resulted in the end of a career-long streak of five consecutive starts lasting six innings or longer. The 7/0 K/BB looks good in theory, however, Snell in the strike zone left a pair of pitches over the plate to Brian Dozier and Ehire Adrianza who made him pay with two homers. Be that as it may, he has posted a respectable 3.92 ERA since the All-Star Break.
Gray allowed one run (unearned) on six hits and two walks in Thursday’s win over Baltimore. He struck out five over 5-2/3 innings. Gray struggled his last time out, yet this time he pitched around eight baserunners to limit the damage. The right-hander — who limited the Rays to two-runs on seven hits over 6-1/3 innings on July 19 — is rebounding from his 2016 campaign with a 3.22 ERA/1.17 WHIP/8.6 K:9. Key Matchups: Corey Dickerson (3-11, HR, 3 RBI), Danny Espinosa (1-3, HR, RBI), Kevin Kiermaier (3-12, 2B, HR, 3 RBI), Evan Longoria (10-26, 4 2B, HR, 3 RBI, BB)
You can read about the series in our preview.
Rays 9/12/17 Starting Lineup