Tampa Bay and Baltimore face off one more time in the rubber match of this three games set. The Rays look to bounce back from a frustrating loss. Most of us are opining, “Had the Rays done this or that,” but ultimately those sentiments are irrelevant, and today is another day.
The events of the eighth inning yesterday…you know, with the bases loaded and one out, was reminiscent of last year. I can recall yelling at Kelly Shoppach or BJ Upton, through my TV, when they couldn’t seem to get a simple base hit to drive in one or two runs. Similarly, I found myself wanting to throw something at my TV last night when Ben Zobrist ground into a first pitch double play to end the inning, putting down a Rays uprising. I wondered why they couldn’t do what they did in the first inning of the previous game. We didn’t need a grand slam, a base hit could have driven in a couple of runs. I wondered if I was expecting too much, and figured that the numbers wouldn’t lie. And those numbers were surprising. See, the Rays actually are performing fairly well in bases loaded situations. I reiterate, fairly well. Below, I compared the Rays numbers with bases loaded to that or the MLB average. See for yourself.
The results can be interpreted in a couple of ways; Damn, the Rays are doing really well with the bases loaded, or damn, the Rays don’t really get a lot of extra base hits with the bases loaded. For the sake of argument, let’s start with the former.
Tampa Bay, by and far, is outscoring almost all baseball with the bases loaded. In fact, the Rays are second in scoring runs with the bases loaded, second only to Boston. Tampa Bay is also fourth in RBI with bases loaded. To continue the comparison, the Rays are first in batting average, on base percentage (OBP), and on base percentage plus slugging (OPS). They’re second in slugging (SLG), just behind the Red Sox. In short, that rules. However, when you look at the latter, the argument takes a frustrating turn.
Hypothetically speaking, if you take away the four Luke Scott, Carlos Pena, and Matt Joyce grand slams, those numbers drop dramatically. Gone are the four extra base hits, 16 RBI, and 16 runs. It also bears mentioning the their SLG and, inevitably, their OPS drop too. Tampa Bay goes from the tippy top, to below average. In the end, as when the Rays have men in scoring position, they’re not getting timely hits in those pivotal, high leverage, situations. Sigh. Onward to today’s game.
Matt Moore (1-4, 4.76 ERA) takes the hill against Jake Arrieta (1-6, 6.02 ERA) and the Orioles. Moore is coming off a very strong 7 IP/4 H/2 ER/1 BB/10 K outing against the White Sox, where one unfortunate misplaced pitch was the difference between a win and a loss. Moore, looking for his second win of the season, has been getting better and better as the season has progressed. The problem wasn’t Moore in the aforementioned outing, it was an anemic offense that could only tack one run on the board.
Arrieta, on the other hand, has been fairly miserable in 2012. The righty’s last five starts have been problematic, having given up four or more runs in four of the five. Arrieta posted a 4.1 IP/6 H/6 ER/3 BB/5 K line in his last start, against Toronto. Arrieta is 2-2 with a career 5.46 ERA and 20 strikeouts in 28 innings against the Rays. That includes a May start against the Rays where he lasted only 3-2/3 innings, giving up seven earned runs on 10 hits and two walks. The Rays starting lineup is below. As always, Let’s Go Rays!
Rays 6/3/12 Starting lineup: