It was just another September 22nd game for the Rays, one in which Joe Maddon and Co. called up a left-handed pitcher from the minor leagues to pitch in a high leverage game. David Price made his first career start against the Baltimore Orioles in 2008. Then in 2011, Matt Moore took the mound for the first time against New York, becoming the first pitcher in major league history to tally 11 strikeouts in five innings or less against the Yankees. It was Enny Romero’s turn this time around, and the 22 year-old did not disappoint in the Rays 3-1 victory against the Orioles. With Sunday’s results and seven left to play, the Rays are 1/2 game ahead of the Indians, two of the Rangers, and four of the Royals.
Going into Sunday’s game, the biggest concerns with Romero were his command and the number of base runners he allowed via the walk — his 4.68 K/BB speaks to that. His command issues were evident Sunday, after Romero walked four in 4.2 innings of work. However, he was able to limit the damage around those walks, allowing only one hit — a leadoff single to Manny Machado. Romero didn’t strikeout anyone, yet his repertoire l was impressive. He leaned on a mid 90’s fastball that had a lot of movement and life. Throwing it for strikes 83% of the time, the 22 year-old generated five whiffs while inducing eight ground outs. He was especially impressive against Chris Davis, feeding Mr. 51 a steady diet of sliders, getting him to ground out twice. Romero would have finished the fifth inning if it wasn’t for a fielding error by Kelly Johnson. Maddon pulled Romero two outs into the fifth in favor of Brandon Gomes who quickly struck out Manny Machado to end the inning.
Gomes’ inning ending strikeout ushered in a staring of five relievers who slammed the door on the Orioles. Suffice it to say, the Rays bullpen was excellent. Five relievers (Gomes, Wesley Wright, Jamey Wright, Joel Peralta, and Fernando Rodney) combined to finish off Baltimore, while Rodney was the only reliever to allow a hit or run off Matt Wieters’ double off the B-ring. The relievers held the Orioles hitless for four innings, allowing the Rays offense to hang on until sixth inning when they’d tack on a pair of insurance runs.
Offensively speaking, Tampa Bay jumped out to a 1-0 lead in the first inning thanks to a leadoff home run by David DeJesus. In a post game interview, DeJesus (who’s had success against the Orioles starter) noted that he waited for his pitch, clobbering a hanging breaking ball and sending the ball to its rightful home in right field. And though scoring opportunities presented themselves in the second and third innings, Tampa Bay wasn’t able to score again until the sixth when Matt Joyce plated Sam Fuld on a sac-fly. James Loney then drove in Ben Zobrist on a blooper to left later in the inning, giving the Rays the advantage they’d never relinquish.
The New What Next
The Rays will go for the four game sweep today with Chris Archer on the mound. Archer will be opposed by Wei-Yin Chen. You can read about the pitching match-up here.
Rays 9/23/13 Starting Lineup
- The Rays activated Jesse Crain from the DL today, DFA’ing Martin in order to make room ahead of the roster move.
- Desmond Jennings was removed from the game in the sixth, after he noticeably pulled up in front of the bag while running out a bunt base hit in the bottom of the inning. Jennings had a precautionary MRI after complaints of right hamstring tightness, and is listed as day-to-day with a mild left hamstring strain.
- With Jennings listed day-to-day, Sam Fuld will get the start in center field, while Ben Zobrist gets the start in right. Tim Beckham will make his first major league start at second.