The Tampa Bay Rays took on the Boston Red Sox in Port Charlotte today. The Rays looked to continue a strong spring against the division rivals, but they came up short, losing the game 4-2. With the loss they fall to 15-6-3 on the spring as Opening Day is quickly approaching.
After an 18 minute rain delay, recently named 5th starter Jake Odorizzi started the game and was decent, going 5+ innings and giving up three runs while walking two batters and striking out five. The split change-up that he added to his arsenal this spring looked solid, and his curveball also looked particularly sharp in this outing. Odorizzi did make a mistake pitch to Will Middlebrooks, who drove the pitch for a solo home run. He could have been a bit more efficient with his fastball command to last deeper in the game, but overall Odorizzi did all you can ask for by giving his team a chance to win.
Lefty Cesar Ramos, who lost out on the 5th starter competition, relieved Odorizzi in the 6th and allowed an inherited runner to score when he gave up a home run to Grady Sizemore to make the score 4-2. Despite the tough outing, Ramos has impressed this spring. After pitching in mostly low-leverage situations last season, we should see him pitch in more important games in 2014. Joel Peralta threw a scoreless 7th and allowed just a walk as he once again figures to be a key cog of the Rays’ bullpen. Jake McGee then came on to throw a scoreless 8th inning, although he did give up a long fly ball to Xander Bogaerts that was just a few feet from leaving the park. McGee has been a key member of the Rays’ bullpen the last two seasons, but he is looking to have an even greater role this year. He has been working to develop his curveball all spring, and it has finally started to pay off, something that showed when he struck out Jonny Gomes on a nasty curveball. Josh Lueke pitched the final frame for the Rays and allowed one hit and no runs in his final audition for a big league roster spot. After struggling with the location of his secondary stuff this spring, his curveball looked sharp today, something that the Rays are hoping he can continue.
The offense only threatened in the 3rd when Sean Rodriguez led things off with a single. Jose Molina then hit a long double into the right field corner to drive Rodriguez in, but team president Matt Silverman, who was in the broadcast booth at the time, was pleading for Molina to leg out a triple. It wouldn’t make a difference though, as a Wil Myers single drove in Molina from second for the Rays’ second and final run. Myers struggled early on in the spring, but he has started to heat up at the right time with Opening Day right around the corner.
Other than the 3rd, the Rays offense was stagnant, as their only other hit was a Ben Zobrist double in the 9th inning. On the day, the offense mustered only four hits and two walks despite having lineup regulars play almost the entire game. The Rays are hoping that an upgraded offense will win them more of these types of games in 2014, and while that didn’t happen today, they believe that this offense will do a fine job backing a strong pitching staff this season.
The Rays will take on a split-squad Orioles team tomorrow in Port Charlotte at 7:05 EST. They are also set to announce their roster decisions later today. Check back at Rays Colored Glasses to get all the analysis you will need for both.