It was just a couple of days ago that the Tampa Bay Rays’ offense was as cold as ice. Now, quite the contrary is true. The Rays followed up their 11-5 comeback victory over the New York Yankees on Friday night with a 16-1 thrashing of New York on Saturday to improve to 9-9 on the season.
Wil Myers entered Saturday without a regular season homer, but a hanging breaking ball can change a lot of things. In the 3rd inning, Ivan Nova left a 78 MPH curveball up in the zone, and Myers crushed it to give the Rays a 1-0 lead. An inning later, Ryan Hanigan slammed a fastball down the left field line to make it 2-0 before Evan Longoria took another misplaced breaking ball out to make it 4-0. Longoria’s homer was the 164th of his career, setting the Rays’ franchise record. As it turned out, though, the Rays were only getting started.
In the 4th inning, Hanigan drilled a 2-run homer, his second of the game, and after Kelly Johnson got the Yankees a run on an RBI double, Myers deposited his second home run into the seats to make it 10-1. By the time the game was through, the Rays had tallied 16 runs, the last 2 of which came off of New York infielder Dean Anna. 14 of the runs were driven in by Ryan Hanigan, who had 6 RBI, and Longoria and Myers, who each had 4. Hanigan, Myers, and Zobrist all had 3 hits while Longoria, Matt Joyce, and James Loney each had 2. It was a huge performance for the entire Rays offense…except for David DeJesus and Sean Rodriguez, who went a combined 0 for 11. But it was great to see Wil Myers break out and just about everyone surging, and it was reassuring simply to know that the Rays offense is not nearly as bad as it appeared to be the past week and a half.
The Rays also had a fun time on the mound. Chris Archer got behind Jacoby Ellsbury 3-0 to begin the game before allowing a single, but with the help of Ellsbury getting caught stealing, Archer had actually pitched to the minimum 13 through 4.1 innings. A couple of hits in the 5th punctuated by Johnson’s RBI double finally ended that, but Archer’s final line was quite impressive. He went 6.2 innings allowing just 1 run on 3 hits, striking out 4 while walking none. His fastball and slider were as dominant as usual, and he was even able to mix in a few good changeups. With the Rays rotation hurting, they need Archer to pitch the way he is capable, and he showed signs of doing that in this game.
After Archer, we got to see the major league debut of left-hander C.J. Riefenhauser, who wound up retiring all 4 batters he faced on just 12 pitches. His slider looked especially impressive as the second offering of his career featured extreme sweeping action to force a whiff from Alfonso Soriano. It was a nice beginning for Riefenhauser, and the Rays may just have found themselves yet another impact young arm. Josh Lueke finished off the game with a perfect 9th, striking out 2. Between the bats and the pitching, Saturday was as close as we will get to see to a perfect night for the Tampa Bay Rays. The Rays hope to take 3 out of 4 from the Yankees tomorrow with Cesar Ramos going up against Vidal Nuno.