The hangover — both literal and figurative. Last night’s losing venture led to drinking… Not a copious amount of alcohol, but enough to make me regret being awake and typing a game recap. I see a nap in my future. The skinny: The BABIP luck dragons took a large chunk out of Alex Cobb’s heels, Ryan Hanigan had a hard time throwing out everyone, and the Rays offense went back into hibernation. The Rays ended the night having been thrashed by the Pirates, 8-1.
Much like his start back on June seventh, Alex Cobb was hit hard and early, this time for six runs on six hits. The BABIP luck dragons weren’t nipping at his heels, they were full on taking chunks out of the lower portions of his legs. And to add insult to injury, the Pirates ran all over him to the tune of four stolen bases. To be fair, Cobb has looked great at times this year, yet last night was not one of those occasions. Cobb has now given up at least six runs in an outing since he returned from injury on May 22nd, with only two wins to show for his efforts. Granted he hasn’t had much offensive support — last night being no different. But the lack of offensive support certainly doesn’t explain his 5.34 ERA and 4.10 FIP in the month of June.
Also factoring into the loss were unofficial fielding gaffes. By my count, there were three plays that could have been made (and maybe would have been made last season) by Yunel Escobar, but weren’t. It could be argued that his defensive placement, closer to third, was the reason those grounders squeaked through his side of the infield. However, I’d argue his range, for whatever reason, isn’t what it once was. A quick look at his fielding stats show that his fielding numbers are down across the board. His UZR dropped from 10.7 in 2013 to -9.3, his RZR dropped over 100 points from .782 to .663, and his fielding percentage on routine plays dropped from 99.3% to 96.1%. His fielding, or lack thereof, has not gone unnoticed:
Escobar is dogging it. He has been for quite some time. It’s time someone said it. I’m putting my name on it #Rays
— Tom Krasniqi (@TKras) June 24, 2014
Drew Laing of DRaysBay wrote,
Last year, Escobar was the “sparkplug” for the Rays – in the field and in the dugout. This year? Not even close. If he’s not fielding, he doesn’t bring much value to the team.
I whole heartedly agree. The Rays were able to turn their 37th double play of the season. That counts for something, right?
On the other end of things, five of the Rays six hits came between the first and fourth innings. That is, Tampa Bay went five innings without a hit. Meanwhile, they only struck out twice. Sure, the Rays made contact with the ball. Yet the majority of their contact was weak. That they grounded into three inning ending double-plays certainly didn’t help.
The New What Next
Sometimes it feels like the Rays lose to pitchers they should beat, and handle those they should be buried by. Hopefully that trend holds up tonight. After all, Tampa Bay should have beaten Voloquez badly, while Jeff Locke — by all accounts — promises to be a tough customer. Locke (0-1, 3.76 ERA) may be the most fearsome starter the Rays will face in this series. Despite getting pounded for six runs in his first start back at the beginning of May, the 26 year-old lefty has cleaned up his act — relinquishing only five runs in his last 21 innings of work. Locke is wont to attack hitters (not nibbling at the edges) with his fastball, utilizing his upper 70′s change-up as his put away pitch. For the Rays, Chris Archer will try to put together another solid outing. You can read about the pitching matchup in our series preview, and I’ll post the starting lineup when it becomes available.
Rays 6/24/14 Starting Lineup
- The Rays have placed JerrySands on the DL with a strained tendon in his left wrist, corresponding by recalling INF Cole Figueroa.
- Per Marc Topkin, “(Joe) Maddon said RHP Jeremy Hellickson (elbow) is healthy after his third rehab start for Durham. Maddon hadn’t spoken with the front office before the game about when Hellickson might return or whether he’ll need another rehab start. Hellickson, who has given up 12 runs in 10 Triple-A innings, is a candidate to start in Friday’s doubleheader at Baltimore.”
- Steve Adams of MLB Trade Rumors reports, “While no deal is imminent at the moment, rival officials tell ESPN’s Buster Olney that the Rays are prepared to move David Price “right now” if the right offer presents itself.”‘
- Your tweet of the day,
So to get to 50-50 as Maddon wanted, #Rays just have to go 19-3.
— Marc Topkin (@TBTimes_Rays) June 24, 2014