The Tampa Bay Rays played to their second tie of the exhibition season today in Tampa, as they came to a 3-3 draw with the New York Yankees. It wasn’t a bad performance by the Rays, but you would like to see a bit more out of the offense when the pitching staff gives such a solid effort. They now move to 5-2-2 on the spring.
Chris Archer once again led a strong performance by Rays’ pitchers, going 3.1 innings while giving up just two hits. Archer also added two strikeouts on the day, and gave up no free passes. As expected, Archer spent the game trying to refine his changeup. The pitch looked decent, as Chris Archer does a good job at hiding it from hitters, and also keeps it down in the zone well. However, he still does need to work on getting more consistent downward break on it, as the pitch can get a bit flat at times.
The out-of-options Josh Lueke came on to pitch the final two outs of the 4th inning as well as the 5th inning. His stat line was good, as he gave up no runs on two hits. But, he struggled to locate his secondary stuff, something he is going to need to improve as he vies for one of the final bullpen spots this spring. Jeff Beliveau pitched 1.1 innings and was charged with a run, also giving up 1 hit and beaning Kelly Johnson with a fastball. Beliveau is currently fighting for a spot as the Rays’ second lefty in the bullpen, but he is at a disadvantage over Cesar Ramos and Erik Bedard because he can’t throw multiple innings.
Lefty Adam Liberatore came on to get the final two outs of the 7th inning and allowed no runs of his own, although he did allow a runner that he inherited from Beliveau. He stayed on for the 8th, but couldn’t get through the inning, giving up a pair of singles and an unearned run that scored because of a poor throw by Eddy Rodriguez on a stolen base attempt. C.J. Riefenhauser recorded the final out of the 8th.
The Rays offense was not electric, but they used some small ball to score three runs. They first struck in the 7th inning after James Loney led off the inning with a ground-rule double. Sean Rodriguez then laid down a sacrifice bunt, but pitcher Bruce Billings threw the ball away and Loney scored. Rodriguez subsequently stole second, advanced to third on a passed ball, and came around to score on a Ryan Hanigan single. Jeremy Moore reached on a fielding error in the 8th, making a good hustle play to reach second base. He also aggressively swiped third on a wild pitch, and was then driven home by a Mikie Mahtook single. With the Rays having such good pitching this season, we could see them play small ball quite often this year.
The Rays managed 7 hits on the day, but no hitter had more than a single hit and no one drew a walk. Matt Joyce and James Loney both went 1-3 with a double. Overall, the offense could have done a better job of getting hits in crucial situations, but they did do a nice job of turning hustle plays into runs.
The Rays took a 3-2 lead into the 9th and Braulio Lara came on looking for the save. But, after two quick outs he gave up two singles and then threw a wild pitch to allow the Yankees to tie up the score 3-3. The teams agreed to play a single extra inning, but neither team scored a run, ending the game in a 3-3 tie. Merrill Kelly, a guy who broke out in the minors as a starter last year, pitched a 1-2-3 10th for the Rays.
As is usual with the Rays, the pitching was great today, but the offense could have done a bit better job to seal the win. The Rays will move on to face the Boston Red Sox in Ft. Myers tomorrow at 1:05.