Optimism will make you suffer fools gladly. I’m holding out for you to do the right thing, emphatically.
— American Steel
When you go into things with lowered expectations, anything above and beyond that low water mark feels like a godsend. Case in point, the Rays against the Tigers reigning Cy Young Award winner, Max Scherzer. Tampa Bay took an unexpected four run lead against the uncharacteristically jittery Scherzer before he could settle in. And though he would go on to retire 16 of the last 19 hitters, Chris Archer was given ample an ample four run lead to play with.
With the task of preserving the early lead, Archer looked great in the front four innings. He racked up the majority of his strikeouts in the front four, and effectively worked through a pair of RISP situations. Things were rolling, the Rays tagged a pitcher who’s posted a 1.98 ERA over the last 30 days with four runs, and this weird feeling crept upon me… I believe it’s called optimism.
…Then the fifth and sixth innings happened.
Archer yielded four runs (three earned) on three hits, an error, and two walks which allowed the Tigers to get back into the game. Two innings later, Joel Peralta gave up the go-ahead run to JD Martinez, who promptly deposited a center cut breaking pitch over the center field wall. The Rays were able to knot the game at five runs apiece in the eighth, yet Grant Balfour did what he’s wont to do in the 11th — allow hitters to reach via the free pass, and give up the winning runs.
With the Rays down by three, it was up to the top of the order (Kevin Kiermaier included) to tag Joe Nathan with at least three runs in the bottom of the inning. They were able to scratch out a run with two outs, however Sean Rodriguez went down swinging to end the game — stranding the tying runs on first and second.
In the end, no one expected the Rays to get anything off Scherzer. In kind, I’d imagine a similar expectation was placed upon Archer. That they were able to get four runs off the Tigers ace only makes this bitter pill that much harder to swallow. They had the victory within reach, yet the pitching failed.
I live blogged the game in its entirety over at our Tumblr page. Want to agonize over this disheartening loss in all of its blow-by-blow glory? Click the link where you’ll be regaled with this heartbreaking tale of woe.
The New What Next
As I alluded to in our series preview, neither team should expect a smooth ride against the other over the course of the series. And it’s not going to get any easier tonight when Jake Odorizzi takes the mound against Rick Porcello and the Tigers. Tampa Bay beat up Porcello (13-8. 3.28 ERA) to the tune of seven earned runs in 5-2/3 innings during their 7-3 win against the Tigers back at the beginning of July. He, however, has pitched well since, giving up three runs or fewer in six of his last seven starts. His start against the Rays, as well as his six run (five earned), 10 hit outing Friday stand as the exception to his season, not the rule. You can read about the pitching matchup in our series preview.
Rays 8/20/14 Starting Lineup
- Of Chris Archer’s five walks, four came against the 7-8-9 hitters in the Tigers lineup. What BA mentioned in the broadcast is true, his numbers increase across the board against the bottom of the order. The only other troublesome spot in the order for Archer is the number three hitter. Though Archer was able to keep Cabrera at bay for the most part, he certainly set up the top of the order for success — four of the seven Tigers’ runs batted in came from the first four hitters.
- Thank you for everything, David Price:
- The Tampa Bay Rays activated Wil Myers from the DL, corresponding by optioning Belnome to Durham, and moving Jerry Sands to the 60-day DL. By moving Sands to the DL, the Rays are able to keep Kevin Kiermaier on the 25-man roster. Myers is expected to see time both in left and right field (and DH), and play pretty much every day.
- Friend of the blog, DRaysBay’s Daniel Russell wrote an interesting piece on how to improve the Rays roster. His suggestions included hitting Evan Longoria third (I’ve been saying that all season), platooning James Loney when there’s a tough lefty on the mound, ending the Grant Balfour experiment, and keeping Kevin Kiermaier in the lineup. You can read his piece via the link above.
- There have been five bases-loaded walks in extra innings this season in the majors — three of them have beenby the Rays (Ramos, Balfour and Reifenhauser).
- Everybody’s workin’ for the weekend… Only two more days until our next watch party. See you at Green Bench!