The Tampa Bay Rays started off their day-night double-header today against the Baltimore Orioles with a bang. In what was a great pitching matchup between two young arms, Alex Colome of the Rays was able to outduel Kevin Gausman of the Orioles. The Rays would take the game 5-2, and are now 32-48 on the season.
Alex Colome was called up from Triple-A Durham to start game one of today’s doubleheader, and there were some positive takeaways and some negative ones. On one hand, he showcased dominant stuff, and that led to him allowing only 2 hits and 1 run. On the other hand, he struggled with command, walked 4 batters, and wasn’t particularly efficient given the fact he only allowed 2 hits, lasting 5.2 innings. This was about as good of a start as any that shows what kind of pitcher Colome is. His stuff is outstanding, but his command is iffy, and that can cause inconsistent results at points. He also has to work to stay healthy for the long haul, and that on top of his command may lead to a bullpen move. But as he showed today, he is going to fight hard to avoid that move.
Before Colome left the game with 2 outs in the 6th, the Rays had already climbed out to a 5-1 lead. They started off their scoring with a Brandon Guyer RBI double and a Matt Joyce RBI single in the 2nd, but would hardly stop there. Jose Molina would get in on the action in the 4th, driving in Joyce with a single. Joyce would once again find himself in the mix in the 6th, doubling home Guyer before scoring a run of his own, this time on a Sean Rodriguez double. That would be all the scoring for the Rays, but with this pitching staff 5 runs is generally enough to get the job done. Guyer had a great day at the plate, going 3-3 with 3 doubles, a hit by pitch, 2 runs scored, and an RBI. Joyce also contributed nicely, going 2-3 with a double, 2 runs scored, and 2 RBIs. The offense would also go 4-8 with runners in scoring position- a good sign considering how much they have struggled in the clutch this year.
After Colome, the bullpen did a good job of keeping the lead intact. Brad Boxberger came on to finish the 6th and stay on for the 7th. Boxberger would face 5 hitters, striking out 4 of them, but also allowing a solo home run to Manny Machado. Grant Balfour then came on to throw a perfect 8th inning. Since allowing 5 runs in an outing on June 8th, Balfour has been much better, allowing just 1 run in his last 6.2 innings and striking out 7 while walking 1. He hasn’t worked his way back into the closer role yet, but he is looking much better as of late. Jake McGee finished the game off in usual dominant fashion, throwing a 1-2-3 inning to earn the save. McGee continues an All-Star worthy season that has seen him put up an insane 1.32 ERA.
Also notable from this game were the absences of SS Yunel Escobar (right shoulder) and C Ryan Hanigan (neck stiffness) for the lineup. Neither are expected to need to spend time on the DL, and both could very well play in game 2 of today’s double-header. But, they are at least situations worth monitoring.