The Tampa Bay Rays took on the Cincinnati Reds Friday to start off their first interleague series of the season. The Rays came in looking to put up big offensive numbers after struggling to do so the past few days, and although that did not quite happen, David Price made sure that it didn’t matter as the Rays won 2-1. With the win, the Rays move to 6-5 on the season.
David Price started the game for the Rays, and as we have come to expect, he was brilliant. After struggling mightily with his fastball velocity in his last start thanks to an illness, Price rebounded to consistently sit in the 92-94 MPH range in today’s start. The velocity is still not quite what it used to be, but if his command and secondary stuff can look as good as it did today, then Price and the Rays have nothing to worry about. Price displayed great command of all his pitches today, as he threw 85 of his 114 pitches for strikes en route to just one walk. Not only that, but he also struck out ten and allowed just four hits in a night where his pure stuff was the nastiest that it has looked this entire spring. The lone run that he allowed was a Joey Votto solo home run in the 9th inning. Joe Maddon gave Price a chance to complete the game, and while he could not quite do so, the Rays will take his 8.1 innings of one run ball any day of the week. Grant Balfour finished off the final two outs to earn his third save of the season, although he made things interesting by walking three hitters in a row before he did so.
Offensively, the Rays struggled once again with their timely hitting. They managed six hits and six walks, both solid amounts, but they could only plate two runs. The Rays got going quickly in the top of the 1st when Evan Longoria singled to drive in Desmond Jennings, who had previously walked. Matt Joyce added his second home run of the season, a solo shot, in the top of the third, but that would turn out to be the Rays’ final run of the game. Joyce was the top performer, going 2-3 with a walk as Joe Maddon elected to start him in left field over David DeJesus with their being no DH because the clubs are playing in a National League park.
The past few games, the Rays have appeared unable to produce anything on the offensive side of the ball. But in fact, the amount of hits and walks that they have had has been fine, they just simply haven’t been able to capitalize with runners on base. One would have to think that they will be able to fix their problems with hitting in key situations sooner rather than later, and once they do their offense could become a force to reckon with.
The Rays and Reds will be back in action tomorrow at Great American Ballpark at 1:10 p.m. Alex Cobb and Alfredo Simon are the probable pitchers in tomorrow’s contest. Be sure to check back at Rays Colored Glasses after the game for all the analysis you need.