The Tampa Bay Rays had won previous divisional series against the Boston Red Sox and New York Yankees before coming into another important divisional series against the Baltimore Orioles. But after losing the first two games against the Baltimore Orioles, the Rays could not win their third divisional series in a row, instead just trying to salvage something in game 3 on Thursday night. However, after it looked like things were finally going to start going the Rays way, the could not avoid a sweep against the Orioles, losing this game 3-1.
David Price was the starter tonight, and thought he wasn’t at his best, throwing 5+ innings while giving up three runs on nine hits, he gave the Rays a chance to win. Things would have been even worse for Price if not for the work of Brad Boxberger, who came on in the 6th after Price allowed the bases to be loaded with no outs but managed to strike out the side to let no runners cross the plate. Despite having an outstanding 9.7 K/9 and an even better 1.0 BB/9 this season, Price’s ERA sits at an ugly 4.53 because he has been too hittable. He has been leaving the ball up in the zone way too often, and while he has still found good strikeout numbers because of his great stuff, hitters are taking advantage of him too often. Price needs to trust his stuff more and throw the ball down in the zone. It might result in an extra walk or two every game, but keeping the ball low would help induce more weak contact going forward. The good news for Rays fans is that Price had a similarly poor start last season, but he bounced back to throw a 3.33 ERA on the year. One would have to think that Price will get going soon just like he did last year.
Joel Peralta would relieve Boxberger with one out in the 7th and worked the next 0.2 scoreless innings. After allowing 5 runs in his last 2.1 innings, his stuff looked much sharper today, which is hopefully a sign that Peralta is getting back on track. Juan Carlos Oviedo then came in to work perfect 8th and 9th innings, with his stuff and command being on-point. If there is any one player that can turn this good bullpen into a great one, it is Oviedo, and it has to be encouraging that he has not allowed a run in his last four outings. The bullpen combined to allow just one base runner over 4.0 innings of work, certainly what the Rays needed to stay in this game until the end.
The offense once again could not put together any sort of timely hits, and that led to them scoring just one run despite lacing 9 hits and drawing 4 walks. Evan Longoria got things going for the Rays when he drove in Desmond Jennings with a single in the 1st inning, but that would turn out to be all the offense that the Rays could muster. Ben Zobrist was the top performer, getting on base 4 times in his 5 plate appearances thanks to a hit and 3 walks. Yunel Escobar smacked a double for a 1-4 performance, but no Ray would have more than just a single hit. The Rays did make a bid in the top of the 9th to even the score by putting runners on first and second with no outs, but a Jennings’ double play killed the rally, and a Matt Joyce groundout would end the ballgame. The offense continues to be inconsistent after they finally looked to be getting out of their slump, and something is going to have to change. This was a winnable game thanks to a great performance by the bullpen, but the offense could not take advantage.
The Rays will be looking to bounce back from the sweep as they begin a weekend series against the Cleveland Indians tomorrow at 7:10 ET back at Tropicana Field. Jake Odorizzi will be looking to get past his early season struggles while opposing Corey Kluber on the mound. Be sure to come back to Rays Colored Glasses to check out all the analysis of the game that you need.