Do you remember when the Rays would swarm the opposing pitcher? You know, back in the olden days of last year, when the offense would knock the pitcher off his game early on — not allowing him to get comfortable. Those sure were the good old days. I certainly would have killed for that approach at the plate last night. Tampa Bay fell to their Florida rivals by a 3-1 margin in Miami. The Marlins improved to 21-11 at home (29-28 overall), while the Rays fell even further back in the rankings. The good guys have now dropped seven consecutive games, scoring all of 17 runs in the process. This isn’t good, and yes…this sucks.
Tampa Bay fell behind early in a disastrous three-run, two hit, two walk, 28-pitch first inning. Alex Cobb had a hard time commanding his fastball and changeup, and the hit hungry Marlins took full advantage by working good counts, and forcing predictability out of a largely unpredictable Cobb. Working largely off his curve ball, Cobb finally put things back in order, coaxing a huge double play out of Garrett Jones for the first and second outs of the inning, then wringing up Adeiny Hechavarria, swinging, two batters later — ultimately limiting the to damage to three, and ending the inning.
From the point of Hechevarria’s strikeout onward, Cobb turned things around and kept the Rays in the game. The split-change throwing RHP sat down 13 consecutive batters — striking out five while inducing four ground outs (or infield liners), including this fourth inning web gem:
It would be another four innings before the next Marlins batter reached base. Brad Boxberger came on in relief in the seventh, and dominated. Boxberger struck out the side — all swinging — on 15 pitches (10 strikes), and Jake McGee pitched the final two frames of the game, striking out five of the six batters faced. McGee, impressively, has now retired the last 20 men faced and hasn’t allowed a run in 14-1/3 innings.
For the Marlins, three runs were all they needed against the offensively strapped Rays. As they’ve been accustomed to this season, Tampa Bay went 0-5 wRISP. Desmond Jennings plated their only run on a fifth inning double which scored Sean Rodriguez from first. Threatening with a runner on second, Logan Forsythe hit a 2-0 fly-out to right, and Jerry Sands — who pinch hit for Ali Solis after only 4-1/3 innings behind the dish — lined out, bringing Alex Cobb to the plate. Cobb worked a full count, but struck out looking to end the inning. If I may, between the solid contact he made in the third, and the full count strikeout to end the fifth, Cobb easily put together two of the Rays’ best at-bats of the night.
Of the 33 men that came to the plate, only 14 got ahead in the count. What’s more, six Rays struck out looking — largely at borderline pitches on the corners of the plate. BA made an interesting observation in the middle of Ben Zobrist’s first at-bat. The Rays announcer noted that Zobrist said something to the home plate umpire following the second strike — an outside fastball (or change, I can’t remember) — presumably inquiring if that’s how far he’d take the strike-zone. Two pitches later, Zobrist struck out looking on a 1-2 pitch on the inside corner. It all boils down to this: the Rays hitters didn’t protect with two strikes — especially the right handed hitters. All this is evidenced by the five caught looking strikeouts against Randy Wolf, who’s largely a contact pitcher.
The New What Next
Chris Archer will try to halt the Rays skid in its tracks tonight against Henderson Alvarez (2-3, 2.97 ERA). Alvarez is 0-5 with a 6.28 ERA in his career against Tampa Bay. You can read about the pitching match up, and more, in our series preview.
Rays 6/2/14 Starting Lineup
- Your tweets of the day, courtesy of Marc Topkin:
#Rays Cobb: “I’m over taking positives away … That obviously isn’t getting us anywhere. Maybe we need to dwell on the negatives …. more”
— Marc Topkin (@TBTimes_Rays) June 3, 2014
#Rays Cobb: “It’s beyond frustrating. There’s no words. We’ve got to figure something out. This is not the way we play baseball around here”
— Marc Topkin (@TBTimes_Rays) June 3, 2014
- Bad news. The Rays announced that OF Wil Myers has a slight stress fracture in his right wrist, and he will miss at least two months of the season. They went on to say that Myers will be in a cast from five to six weeks before he can start rehabbing his wrist.
- If I may, I don’t understand why Joe Maddon started Logan Forsythe at second, and Ben Zobrist in right, last night. Forsythe went 0-3, while also grounding into a crucial seventh inning double play. Meanwhile, Kevin Kiermaier got a pinch hit single in his only at-bat against LHP Mike Dunn. Mind you, Forsythe was expected to be a lefty masher, yet he’s been anything but so far this season. Kiermaier has been fantastic in the field and at the plate this season, slashing .316 BA/.316 OBP/.632 SLG/.949 OPS in 19 plate appearances, with two homers, two runs, and three RBI. Granted 19 plate appearances is an incredibly small sample size. Yet, when you factor in Kiermaier’s numbers in Triple-A (.305 BA/.362 OBP/.461 SLG/.823 OPS, with three homers, 28 runs, and 13 RBI), and compare them to Forsythe’s overall numbers in 41 plate appearances, Kiermaier should see more playing time in right while Myers is on the DL. He holds more promise, offensively, than Forsythe.
- Red Sox RHP Workman was handed down a six-game suspension for throwing at Evan Longoria, Friday. He was also fined an undisclosed amount.
- Drew Laing of DRaysBay writes, “The Rays franchise player needs to step up and show what he’s made of.“