The Rays walked away from Monday night’s game with sole possession of the first Wildcard spot, after Tampa Bay, led by Alex Cobb, handed the Texas Rangers their seventh consecutive loss. The 6-2 game had everything one could want — a Wil Myers solo shot to the DanJo junk-shot seat in right field, a granny-panties wearing streaker, a six-run unraveling by former Ray Matt Garza, and a productive offense that went 6-11 wRISP. Game peripherals are below, and there’s a fairly complete blow-by-blow account of the game at our Tumblr site.
- Pitching, pitching, pitching. Suffice it to say, after Jake McGee and Joel Peralta’s lackluster outing against the Twins Sunday, the Rays needed Alex Cobb to step up and put together an inning-eating outing (crap, say that five times) — and an excellent one at that. Cobb, by an large, exceeded that expectation, pitching eight innings of two run, 10 strikeout ball. The Rays righty had it all — fastball command (35 for strikes, 68% K%), a deadly change-up (24 for strikes, 72% K%, 9 whiffs), and an excellent curveball (15 strikes, 68% K%). Cobb impressively pitched inside to right-handed hitters, exploiting home plate umpire Larry Vanover’s liberal strike zone and frustrating a Rangers team that was strapped to put anything together. He also worked through a pair of run scoring innings that, arguably, had as much to do with misplays by Jose Molina and Desmond Jennings, than Cobb (below).
- In the fourth inning, Molina allowed a pitch in the dirt to skip away, moving Alex Rios to third on the passed ball. AJ Pierzynsky singled Rios home in the next at-bat tying the game. Then in the sixth inning, Mitch Moreland doubled to center — a play which Desmond Jennings, with his eyes closed, took a diving stab at. Had he played the ball on the hop, Jennings would have held Moreland to a single. Both plays proved costly, ultimately allowing a pair of runs to cross the plate. Lackadaisical errors/misplays like that are unacceptable, especially at this point in the season.
- The one through five hitters… Whoa! Tampa Bay went 6-11 wRISP Monday night, thanks to David DeJesus, Ben Zobrist, James Loney, Evan Longoria, and Wil Myers who went a combined 11-20 with six runs, and five runs batted in. Much of the Rays success came on five consecutive hits in the bottom of the fifth inning, including a pair of doubles off the bats of Myers and DeJesus. Tampa Bay’s star rookie also hit a solo shot in the bottom of the second, sending a missile to Dan Johnson’s infamous junk-shot seat in right.
- Secret weapon, Ian Kinsler. You’d think that Kinsler was the Rays secret weapon because of his running gaffes. Kinsler was incredibly aggressive on the base paths, to a fault. He got caught waiting out a fielder’s choice as he considered home in the fourth inning, eventually getting tagged out in a run-down between home and third. He also got picked off second base in the fifth inning, getting caught in — you guessed it — a run down.
- On the heels of news that Jesse Crain could be activated by the end of the week, Jamey Wright put together an outstanding 14-pitch 1-2-3 inning to close the door on the Rangers in the ninth, ringing up a batter along the way.
- …The Rays control their own destiny, though the Royals win didn’t hurt. Following the 6-2 win, and the Royals 7-1 shellacking of Cleveland, he Rays hold a one game over of the Rangers, and a 1-1/2 game lead over Cleveland in the Wildcard race. Thanks again, Juego G!
- Cough… Attendance. Really, Tampa Bay?! Less than 11,000 fans? As Daniel Russell of DRaysBay succinctly put things,
“I’m not eager to discuss attendance, because sh*t’s tired, but here it goes. The Rays are among the best teams in baseball in regards to television ratings, and a rainy Tuesday 90 minutes away is not going to draw a massive crowd of Floridians. The Rays had a 1/3 capacity this evening, and that’s just dandy for mid-week games.”
The New What Next
The Rays will look to take their fifth game out of six Tuesday with Jeremy Hellickson on the mound. He’ll be opposed by Alexi Ogando (6-4, 3.23 ERA), not Nick Tepesch as we initially reported. The Rays have posted a combined .283 BA/.377 OBP/.415 SLG/.792 OPS against Ogando in 9.1 innings of work over the last few years, with David DeJesus, Yunel Escobar, Kelly Johnson, Matt Joyce and Evan Longoria being the recipients of some pretty good numbers. I’ll post the starting lineup when it becomes available.
Rays 9/17/13 Starting Lineup