The Tampa Bay Rays put up a strong showing at “Fenway South” today against the Boston Red Sox in Fort Myers. With the 8-0 win, they now move to a 3-1-1 record on the exhibition season. Unfortunately, the Rays spring training game was only available via Gamecast, but have no fear, Rays Colored Glasses is here to fill you in on the details of the game.
Collectively the Rays’ pitchers looked solid, giving up no runs, although with 8 hits and 4 walks allowed they did get a bit lucky. Chris Archer set the tone early by throwing 2.0 innings while allowing just one infield hit and no walks in his first spring appearance. 15 of the 21 pitches that Archer threw were for strikes, which is encouraging to see early on from a pitcher who has historically struggled with control. Archer also featured an effective changeup, a pitch he is looking to throw more and more, the three or four times that he threw it. Mark Lowe came in and gave up 2 hits but no runs in his second spring inning as he continues to fight for one of the final two bullpen spots.
Jake McGee pitched the 4th inning, giving up a walk and a hit, but allowing no runs. He threw 4 curveballs today as he looks to develop his secondary pitches after throwing his fastball more than 90% of the time in 2013. McGee even got David Ortiz to swing through one of them, which is encouraging. Brad Boxberger threw the 5th, striking out 2 but allowing a hit and a walk as he too vies for a bullpen job. Top starting prospect Enny Romero, who is ticketed for Triple-A unless multiple injuries occur, came in for an inning and also walked one and gave up one hit while allowing no runs. Mike Montgomery, who is looking to build on a strong Arizona Fall League performance after a couple of poor seasons in the minors, pitched the 7th and 8th, allowing just one base runner while also striking out one hitter. Finally, Jeff Beliveau finished things off with a scoreless 9th inning as he looks to convince the Rays that he is deserving of consideration for one of the final bullpen spots.
Offensively, the Rays come out of the gates hot, scoring five runs in the first three innings thanks to a pair of David DeJesus extra-base hits and a James Loney home run. One of those runs came against Red Sox’s rotation regular Clay Buchholz in the first inning after DeJesus was driven in by a Matt Joyce single. The other four came off of promising youngster Rubby De La Rosa in the two innings that he pitched, led by Loney’s two-run shot that came after a DeJesus triple. The Rays were quiet in the 4th, but in the 5th Sean Rodriguez got things going with a home run of his own, making the score 6-0 at that point. Rodriguez finally began to tap into some of his raw power in 2013, so it is exciting to see him hit for some power so early on in the spring. Hak-Ju Lee joined the party in the 5th as he hit a two-run double off of Brayan Villarreal after pinching hitting for Yunel Escobar to make it 8-0, but those proved to be the final runs of the game.
On the day, DeJesus and Jose Molina led the way, both going 2-2 with a walk and both hitting a double, while DeJesus also added a triple. Matt Joyce had a nice 2-3 performance with an RBI and a run scored, and Kevin Kiermaier went 1-2 with a walk and a run scored as he tries to fight his way into roster contention. Prospects Jake Hager, Luke Maile, and Curt Casali also saw game time, with Casali hitting a single and drawing a walk in his two PA. Mikie Mahtook, a former 1st round pick who played in Double-A last year, failed to get a hit in his two at-bats. Overall, the Rays pounded out 16 hits and 8 runs, a pretty good day if you ask me.
The Rays used solid performances by their pitching and hitting to easily take this one from the defending World Series champs. All-in-all, this was a pretty encouraging game for both the Rays as a team and many individual players that played in the game. They will be back at it tomorrow when the New York Yankees come to take on the Rays in Port Charlotte at 1:05.