The Tampa Bay Rays returned to the friendly confines of Tropicana Field on Friday, after a successful 5-2 road trip. Even though Allan Dykstra and Logan Forsythe went back-to-back with a pair of mammoth homers in the fourth inning (Dykstra’s first in the majors), Alex Rodriguez soured Tampa Bay’s night with two homers and four RBI. The Rays fell in a 5-4 loss to New York to kick off a nine-game home stand.
Rodriguez reintroduced himself to the Rays after serving a year-long PED suspension by hitting a massive 471 foot solo shot in the second inning, driving an 0-1 pitch, that Nathan Karns left over the heart of the plate, to center. He connected again in the sixth inning to knot the game at four apiece, belting a two-run drive down the left-field line against Ernesto Frieri for career homer number 658.
Not to be left out, Stephen Drew led off the fourth inning with a solo homer of his own, depositing a center-center fastball into the right field stands.
The Rays put together an early scoring opportunity in the second inning, but they weren’t able to put a crooked number on the board until the fourth.
Evan Longoria hit a ground ball up the middle, which Didi Gregorios fielded beautifully while ranging to his left. Gregorious fired a throw to first on a hop, but Mark Teixeira mishandled the throw, and Longoria was safe on the play. The play didn’t go as an error, I suspect because it took an extraordinary effort by Gregorious to field the ball. The Rays made New York pay.
After Adam Warren walked Desmond Jennings, Allan Dykstra crushed a towering shot down the right field line, giving Tampa Bay a 3-2 lead. Logan Forsythe followed by blasting a solo homer to the deepest part of the park in left center.
The Evil Empire scored the go-ahead run in the eighth against Kevin Jepsen, the first run he’s allowed this year. Carlos Beltran led off the eighth with a base hit and was lifted for a pinch runner, being replaced by the speedy Brett Gardner. After a pair of fly-ball outs, Gardner stole second, and Rodriguez looped a slider just in front of Kevin Kiermaier in right-center field — his fourth RBI of the night.
The Yankees bullpen bailed out Warren, allowed just two infield hits over the final five innings. Dellin Betances (2-0) threw a scoreless inning, Andrew Miller got the final four outs for his third save.
Following the game, Rays manager Kevin Cash told the media there was no consideration given about intentionally walking Rodriguez in the eighth.
With Kevin Jepsen on the mound, we’ll pitch to anyone in baseball, Cash said.
More concerning, however, is Ernesto Frieri’s performance on the mound. Frieri was an early bounce-back pitching candidate, ala Fernando Rodney and Joaquin Benoit, yet his struggles with command have led him to walk three and give up five earned runs on six hits, including three home runs. And while Jepsen was credited with the loss, the L should be placed firmly upon Frieri’s shoulders for allowing the Yankees to get back into the game.
The New What Next
The Rays will look to bounce back on Saturday with Jake Odorizzi (2-0, .61 ERA) on the mound. The 25-year-old RHP has been brilliant in his first two starts, allowing one run and four hits in 14-2/3 innings of work, holding opposing hitters to an .085 batting average. Odorizzi will pitch opposite Masahiro Tanaka (1-1, 7.00 ERA). Tanaka told the media he is still building arm strength as he comes off five innings of four-run ball against Boston. You can read about the pitching match-up in our series preview.
Rays 4/18/15 Starting Lineup
- To be clear, Nathan Karns put together a gritty performance Friday night, allowing just two runs on two hits (both solo homers) in five innings. He struck out seven and walked four.
- Nick Franklin (oblique) and James Loney (oblique) took ground balls from bench coach Tom Foley at first base and short stop (respectively). While close, both still need to play in a couple (maybe a few) rehab games before returning to the active roster.
- Alex Cobb (right forearm tendinitis) said he might throw off a mound in seven to 10 days. Closer Jake McGee (right elbow surgery) is nearing the start of a minor league rehab assignment.
- Per Marc Topkin (Tampa Bay Times), John Jaso had another X-ray on his wrist and no break could be seen.There is possible bone bruising similar to what’s seen in a high ankle sprain.
- Brandon Guyer ended the game with a check swing strikeout. Did he go around? Click the link (video courtesy of Brett Morgan) and make up your own mind: Video