Spring training got off to a great start for the Rays as they began 4-1 with their pitchers dominating and their offense always seeming to come through in the clutch. This game did not fit that description- but it wasn’t the stats but instead the pitchers’ lack of pure stuff that was especially alarming.
Roberto Hernandez got the start for the Rays and he looked fine, going 2.1 innings, the longest outing of any Ray so far, allowing 1 run on 2 hits, striking out 1 while walking 2. He didn’t miss too many bats, he did a good job keeping the ball on the ground and his only big mistake was a Miguel Cabrera RBI double in the first inning. When Matt Moore entered the game in the 4th inning, though, that was a little scary. Moore’s fastball command was completely absent as Tigers hitters were squaring it up time after time and he had to go to his breaking ball to get out of trouble. The Tigers took advantage, scoring on a Nick Castellanos RBI single on a Moore fastball in the 4th and then scoring on a groundout in the 5th with Kirby Yates on the mound with that run charged to Moore as well. Moore went 1.1 innings allowing 2 runs on 3 hits, striking out 1 while walking 2. His fastball was flat and unimpressive even at 93-94 MPH, hopefully the only we’ll ever hear it described that way, but he did get his work in and hopefully next time out will be better.
The story of the game continued to be the Rays’ MLB pitchers failing to deliver. Jamey Wright struggled with command of his sinker, allowing an Austin Jackson 2-run home run. Joel Peralta looked good as he worked a shutout 7th inning, and even though Cesar Ramos allowed a run in the 8th, his stuff was fine. But in the 9th, Jake McGee came to the mound and simply could not get anyone out, allowing 4 runs, 3 earned, on 3 hits in just a third of an inning. The scariest part, though, was that his usually mid-90’s fastball was coming in at only 91-92 MPH. Joe Maddon said after the game that he wasn’t worried about McGee, saying that it wasn’t a physical issue that was the reason his velocity down and he was really out there working on his breaking ball. He also wasn’t helped by a couple of misplays at shortstop by Tim Beckham that made a bad outing look far worse.
On the offensive side, a few Rays hitters did have nice games, with Evan Longoria going 2 for 3- he’s hitting a tidy .800 in his 5 spring at-bats- Sam Fuld delivering a big 2-run triple in the 4th inning for the only Rays runs in the game, and Leslie Anderson staying on fire, going 2 for 2. Luke Scott went 1 for 3 and looked absolutely fine playing right field after not playing the outfield for the last year and a half. The final score in this game was not good at all: 11-2 Detroit. However, everyone is healthy and the Rays believe the best is yet to come. Hopefully Moore and McGee can begin pitching the way we know they can in their next outings and this game can be quickly forgotten.