The Tampa Bay Rays look to bounce back from a 1-0 loss against Houston on Friday, when they continue their four-game series at Tropicana Field. Wilmer Font (1-1, 1.64 ERA with the Rays) will get the start for Tampa Bay, pitching opposite of Gerrit Cole (9-1, 2.56 ERA).
…About last night.
The best opportunity to score came in the eighth inning, with reliever Chris Devenski on the mound for Houston.
Willy Adames led off the bungled rally with a double. Kevin Kiermaier followed, dropping down a bunt past the mound on the third base side, noting the placement of both shortstop Marwin Gonzalez and third baseman Alex Bregman.
With runners on the corners and the Rays’ best contact guy, Matt Duffy, stepping into the batter’s box, Rays manager Kevin Cash called for a safety squeeze play.
That was me trying to get one and sac KK over, Cash said. You’ve got so much confidence with Duffy, if it goes 1-0 to 1-1 it’s not that big a deal.
However, the plan didn’t work. Devenski’s pitch, a chanegup, ran in on Duffy, who couldn’t get the bunt down fair, which bothered him.
Then with a 2-1 count, Kiermaier broke hard for second. Duffy got a pitch he liked and lashed a 100 mph liner right at Gonzalez, who snared the ball and fired a throw down to first for the double play.
A little bit of bad luck, Duffy said. But if you look at the whole at-bat there was opportunity there, early in the at-bat, to get a run across.
Jake Bauers grounded out for the final out of the frame, ending the threat.
Took a gamble to sacrifice KK and then obviously get Willy in from third, Cash said.
I look at it that it was bad luck. Nobody did anything wrong. Matt squared up a ball. KK had the base stolen. So it just didn’t work in our favor, for whatever reason.
Obviously it’s frustrating. The guys are frustrated. When you’re sitting there first and third and the way we have been playing, you’re looking with KK at first, there’s a chance to put him in scoring position and we take the lead with three outs to get.
In the end, the Rays dropped their majors-most 20th one-run game.
For what it’s worth, Ryan Yarbrough followed an effective game-opening outing by Ryne Stanek. He allowed just one run on seven hits, including a fifth inning home run to the light hitting Jake Marisnick on a center cut, one-out changeup. Yarbrough was frustrated with the mistake pitch, although he was otherwise pleased with how he pitched.
Just the one pitch was it for the game, Yarbrough said. That was what did it for them. Obviously being able to bounce back from that and trying to keep us in the game was what I was trying to do. Our defense was fantastic for us making all those plays. I felt like we put a good game together but didn’t come out on top.
The question begs, how will Tampa Bay bounce back from the loss? Will the Rays drop three or more consecutive games, as they have throughout the season, or will they recover tonight with a win.
The New What Next
Font vs Cole: a marquee matchup for the ages.
Wilmer Font shut down one of baseball’s most potent offenses on Saturday, stymying a silent Yankees team.
Font threw 5-2/3 solid innings — his longest outing in the Majors — and allowed just three hits, walking just one and striking out four. It was the 28-year-old’s first big league victory (in his 26th appearance and fourth start). He has progressively increased the length of his appearances, from 2-1/3 innings to 3-1/3 to 4-2/3 and now 5-2/3.
It’s exciting, and I’m very happy, said Font, who was acquired by the Rays on May 25 and is playing with his third organization (Dodgers, Athletics) this season. I was trying to attack from the start. The first pitch was very important. After that, work the corners. I felt very, very good today.
Since joining the Rays, he is 1-1 with a 1.63 ERA in eight appearances (four starts). While there is still a lot of work for him to do, as Marc Topkin (Tampa Bay Times) writes, Font may turn out to be a steal for the Rays off the discard pile given his physical tools, maturity and hunger at age 28 to finally succeed.
Gerrit Cole fanned eight over five one-run innings on Sunday against Kansas City. He allowed two hits and three walks along the way. Cole limited baserunners, with the only run against him coming on a Lucas Duda solo shot in the fourth. The Royals fouled off 27 pitches to help push Cole’s pitch count, resulting in his removal after collecting just 15 outs. Despite the short outing, Cole bounced back from allowing four earned runs in each of his last two starts, including four runs on three hits and five walks against Tampa Bay on June 18. Cole is now 0-0 with a 5.14 ERA against the Rays. Key Matchups: CJ Cron (1-4, 2B, RBI), Carlos Gomez (6-14, 3B, 2 BB), Wilson Ramos (3-12, 2 HR, 4 RBI, BB), Joey Wendle (1-3, 2 RBI)
You can read about the series in our preview.
Rays 6/29/18 Starting Lineup