To put it bluntly, the swarming offense, that Joe Maddon’s so candidly spoken about, had more in common with a swarm of sugar ants Friday night, than it did with a swarm of yellow jackets. The Rays dropped an easily winnable game to the Yankees by a score of 6-2, and again find themselves two-and-a-haf games behind the third place Yankees going into Saturday afternoon’s game at Yankee Stadium.
The casual fan will look at Roberto Hernandez’s 7 IP/9 H/5 R/5 ER/o BB/4 K slash line, and assume the loss should be placed firmly on his shoulders. But to be fair, that assumption inaccurate. After all, Robo’s outing was a glaring example of the idea that pitchers are or aren’t lucky. In short — with a few exceptions, of course — Hernandez was a ground-ball machine.
A good number of the Yankees nine hits came on the ground, while Hernandez was able to induce 13 ground-ball outs. To put it another way, with a 68.2% ground-ball percentage (3.75 GB/FB) Hernandez did his job. The hits on the ground found their holes — squeaking past the Rays infielders — as the BABIP luck dragon nipped at Robo’s heels all night.
Look to the bottom of the fourth inning for further evidence. Hafner, Overbay, and Almonte hit three consecutive base-hits to load the bases. Overbay and Almonte’s singles found their holes, squeaking through the right side just out of reach of Zobrist and company. Hernandez followed that series of hits by inducing a double play, an aborted inning ending single, and a fielders-choice to short. The two-run outcome had more to do with luck, than anything else. Hernandez noted as much after the game,
“Some bad luck…I make good pitches, I’m trying to get a double play. The other ground ball scores a run. I can’t control that.”
The culprit of the Rays loss was the offense. Tampa Bay had ample opportunities to do damage, but they just couldn’t take advantage of those opportunities. As Joe Maddon put it in the post game presser,
“We attempted to swarm and the Raid was out…They swatted us back. We couldn’t get it going.”
Three of the four guys at the top of the order — Joyce, Jennings, and Longoria — went a combined 0-for-14 on the night. To add insult to injury, both Joyce and Jennings had the opportunity to blow the doors open with runners aboard in the third and fourth innings, though the only damage they would incur came in the third when they moved the runner over on a pair of ground-outs.
Per Marc Topkin, Matt Joyce assumed the blame, saying,
“Honestly, I think, for myself, we have to get at least one run right there,” he said. “There’s no really other way of putting it, just it has to be done. It’s basically giving you a run. There’s a lot of pressure on them, the pitcher, to throw a strike. And as a hitter you know your job — you’ve got to get that run in. It’s a tie ball game. That’s what I tried to do, I just didn’t get enough of it. …
“It’s frustrating for me because I feel like that’s something I take a lot of pride in. I look forward to those situations and really relish those situations, and it’s frustrating to not come through.”
Tampa Bay went on to strand nine men on the bags, while only pushing two runners across the plate.
The New What Next
The Rays have a good opportunity to beat the Yankees Saturday when they face CC Sabathia — a pitcher they’ve had a good amount of success against. Going for the Rays will be Alex Colome, who was impressive in a 5-2/3 IP start earlier in the year. You can read about the pitching match-up here.
Rays 6/22/13 Starting Lineup
- David Price pitched Friday with the Charlotte Stone Crabs. Price posted a 2-1/3 IP/1 R/2 H/4 K/2 BB 49 pitches (29 strikes) slash line against the Pirates Single-A affiliate, in Bradenton.
- In other good news, Alex Cobb has started his rehabilitation.