The Tampa Bay Rays entered Wednesday’s matchup hoping to find some offensive consistency after scoring just three runs in their previous three games. The offense struggled to do so once again, and the Rays’ pitching was not able to keep the game close as the they dropped the rubber match to the Kansas City Royals. With the 7-3 loss, the Rays now move to an even 5-5 on the season.
Jake Odorizzi started the game and cruised through the first three innings. He did a great job of keeping the ball down, and his newly-learned split-changeup was devastating. But then in the next two innings, it all came apart. Odorizzi began elevating his pitches, and the Royals made him pay. He let up two runs in the 4th inning thanks to a trio of Royals’ singles. In the 5th he really imploded, giving up two quick runs on a Lorenzo Cain single, a Norichika Aoki triple, and a Johnny Giavotella single. As if that wasn’t already bad enough, Odorizzi ceded a three-run homer to Alex Gordon to cap off of the Royals’ scoring. Odorizzi ended up allowing all seven runs in his five innings of work, and struck out four hitters while walking one. The encouraging part of this is that Odorizzi looked dominant in his first three innings, but as with most young pitchers he is going to have to fight to maintain consistency of his pitches all the way through his starts.
Brandon Gomes relieved Odorizzi in the 6th inning and gave up just one walk. He has not given up a run yet this year in his 13 appearances combined between spring training and the regular season, and could soon be finding himself pitching in a more important role if he keeps it up. Recently called-up Jeff Beliveau looked strong in his perfect 7th inning as the extra man out of the bullpen, and Cesar Ramos finished things out for the Rays with another perfect inning. As we have come to expect with the Rays, the bullpen came in and did their job to kept the game as close as possible, but ultimately it was not enough.
Offensively, the Rays once again struggled to find consistency. They put runners on base with less than two outs in each of the first three innings, but could never capitalize. Desmond Jennings lead off the 4th inning with a 400+ foot home run, but after that the Rays would only get one runner on base until the 9th inning. They did managed to plate a couple of runs in the 9th. Brandon Guyer pinch-hit for Evan Longoria and led off the inning with a double, and was later driven in by a Jennings double. Jennings advanced on a Wil Myers single and was driven in on a Ryan Hanigan groundout, but that would be all the Rays would get as the game ended with a score of 7-3.
The Rays offense managed a solid eight hits and only struck out four times, but they could not get hits when they needed to. Their biggest struggle this year has been timely hitting, something that Joe Maddon has prioritized in the past. Three runs is not awful, but the Rays are hoping to improve their clutch hitting moving forward. It was encouraging to see Jennings go 2-4 with a pair of extra base hits, and Myers managed to go 2-4 as well after struggling the last few games and being dropped to 7th in the order. We have to think that the Rays are going to get their offense going sooner rather than later- they certainly have the talent to do so.
The Rays will have an off day tomorrow as they travel to Cincinnati for a weekend series against the Reds. Aces David Price and Johnny Cueto are scheduled to pitch Friday’s 7:10 game in what should be a great battle of the aces.