After the first inning of Tuesday night’s match-up between the Rays and the Red Sox, a favorable outcome for Tampa Bay — and an excellent outing by Roberto Hernandez, who will endearingly be referred to as Robo from here on out — certainly didn’t seem in the cards. But as Joe Maddon mentioned in his post-game presser, Robo got better as the game went on, and the Rays were able to score in each of the front six innings, rolling to a big 8-3 victory against the Red Sox.
Jacoby Ellsbury quickly started things off for the Sox, sending a 1-0 base hit to left field, then stealing second to get into scoring position. Shane Victorino moved him to third on a single to right, and every Rays fan at the Trop collectively sighed, here we go again. Dustin Pedroia was next, plating a run on a sac-fly that stayed in play just long enough for Ben Zobrist to reach. With a runner on the bags, only one out, and the Red Sox on the verge of pouring it on, Robo was able to strike out David Ortiz and induce a ground-out of Mike Napoli to third to end the inning — but not before he threw 24 pitches.
After a 1-2-3 second inning, the Red Sox would again attempt to pour it on in the third, tagging Robo for a pair of runs on a two-out Mike Napoli single to center. But Robo’s flash of quality in the second, was indicative of what was to come; Hernandez righted the ship, while another narrative was in play — one that was rich in irony. Robo ultimately bested Jon Lester.
While Robo quietly put together a good outing, the Rays hitters were able to rattle a locationally challenged Jon Lester. Seemingly unable to find the zone, Lester had a difficult with locating his off speed pitches — especially down and away. The scoring went a little something like this: Tampa Bay plated a run in the first on a two out bases loaded walk, another in the second when Desmond Jennings unloaded a 422 ft solo shot to center, two in the third on a pair of Ryan Roberts and Jose Molina base hits, one in the fourth on a Evan Longoria solo shot to right — just out of the reach of Shane Victorino, and three in the fifth thanks to a massive two-run 425 ft Matt Joyce blast to right, and another DesJen solo shot to left (Editors note: four seats to my right) off Jose De La Torre who came on in relief of Lester.
Robo went on to post a 7 IP/3 H/3 R/2 ER/2 BB/7 K slash line, throwing 122 pitches (77 for strikes). From the last out of the third inning until the sixth, Hernandez would retire eight in a row — impressively striking out the side (two swinging) in the fourth. Robo sailed for the better part of his outing, throwing zero after zero onto the scoreboard.
Despite tossing 117 pitches, Joe Maddon elected send Hernandez back onto the mound in the eighth inning. What followed was a thing of beauty. After getting ahead of Dustin Pedroia, Robo plunked the Chris Elliot lookalike on a 1-2 pitch, feigning a reaction as the ball connected with Pedroia. As Gareth Rees of DRaysBay put it,
“Though the drilling seemed innocent enough, I would not be surprised if Hernandez’s over the top reaction to the mistake pitch was a cover for a bit of deliberate retaliation.”
Joel Peralta entered the game with a pair of runners on the bags and no outs in the eighth, retiring the next three batters on a strikeout, a come backer, and fly-out to center. Jake McGee came on in the ninth, getting Ross to pop-out to center, Iglesias to strikeout swinging on a 97 MPH fastball, and Victorino to pop out to Yunel Escobar to close out the game.
I’d be remiss if I didn’t acknowledge David Ross’s errant throw in the seventh. Ross attempted to gun down Matt Joyce who was en route to stealing second, yet threw the ball well over the head of Pedrioa. Ross’s throw was so bad, manager Jon Farrell had to make sure Ross wasn’t injured. Joyce consequently moved to third on the over throw.
- The Rays hit four or more homers in back to back games, for the first time in franchise history, Monday and Tuesday night.
- The team struggled mightily with runners on the base paths. Robo had a hard time holding runners, giving the Red Sox easy base stealing opportunities. On the other side of things, two Rays got picked off and found themselves in a run down after some poor reads.
The New What Next
The Rays have the opportunity to gain a game on the Red Sox in the rubber match of the series Wednesday. Chris Archer will butt heads (let’s hope not literally) against Alfredo “The Eyes of Satan” Aceves. Franklin Morales was initially scheduled to pitch, but the Red Sox had to use him in the marathon game. You can read about Archer here. We’ll post the starting lineup when it becomes available.
Rays 6/12/13 Starting Lineup
1. Matt Joyce RF
2. Ben Zobrist 2B
3. Kelly Johnson LF
4. Evan Longoria 3B
5. James Loney 1B
6. Desmond Jennings CF
7. Luke Scott DH
8. Jose Lobaton C
9. Yunel Escobar SS
SP Alex Cobb
- Per the Tator Trot Tracker, “Sunday, Joyce’s pre-beaning trot was 21.89 secs. Monday his trot was 22.32 secs. A lesser man would’ve slowed down.”
- I was tasked with doing a little internet sleuthing by my cousin, on the subject of Evan Longoria and home runs. Okay Bobby, here you go: Longo has posted a .281 BA/.342 OBP/.525 SLG/.867 OPS slash line, with six homers and six RBI when the bases are empty. His numbers spike with runners aboard, posting a .333 BA/.383 OBP/.553 SLG/.935 OPS slash line, with six homers and 32 RBI. His numbers spike once more wRISP, posting a .339 BA/.403 OBP/.518 SLG/.921 OPS slash line with two homers and 23 RBI. He, however, hasn’t been that dependable in high leverage situations, posting a .238 BA/.333 OBP/.381 SLG/.714 OPS slash line, with only a single homer and five RBI.
- Mark Smith takes a look at the Near Future of Wil Myers, in his piece over at Fangraphs.