Game 61: Kevin Kiermaier’s Big Day Ruined By Poor Pitching

By Drew Jenkins

It has been a tough year for the Tampa Bay Rays, as they lost their 10th game in a row to the Miami Marlins on Thursday to drop to 23-38. It seems that when the pitching is on, the offense struggles, but when the offense is on, the pitching struggles. That was evident today, as the Rays smacked 13 hits en route to 6 runs, but gave up 17 hits and 11 runs.

Jake Odorizzi was the starter for the Rays, and he experienced mixed results. Through three innings, he looked great, but a 3 run 4th would be his undoing. Odorizzi has continued to struggle the second and third time through the order this season, and the Rays keep playing around with his pitch mix to hopefully find something that solves these issues. Odorizzi would finish the game going 5+ innings, allowing 4 runs and 7 hits while and striking out 8 and walking none.

Jake McGee came into this game having retired the last 21 batters that he would face. But, his hot streak would go downhill in a hurry. McGee allowed a runner inherited from Odorizzi to score before letting up 2 runs of his own. Despite the rough outing, McGee’s ERA is still an outstanding 1.69. Brad Boxberger come on for the 7th, but he too struggled, allowing a 2-run homer to Giancarlo Stanton and not getting an out before giving the ball to Joel Peralta. He would allow an inherited runner to score, but no runs of his own. The Rays would send closer Grant Balfour on for the 8th inning hoping that someone could stop the bleeding, and he responded with a scoreless inning. Josh Lueke would throw the 9th, giving up a 2-run shot to Marcell Ozuna.

The Rays would take a quick 1-0 lead in the bottom of the 1st thanks to a James Loney sac fly. They would get down 3-1, but Kevin Kiermaier and Ben Zobrist both hit solo home runs in the 5th inning to tie things back up. After giving up the lead again in the top of the 6th, the Rays would chip away thanks to a Matt Joyce RBI triple and a Jerry Sands RBI single in the bottom of the inning to make the score 6-5. Once again the pitching couldn’t hold the score in the 7th, but the Rays came in the bottom half to score again thanks to a Desmond Jennings RBI double.

As a whole, the offense did plenty to get the win. Maybe they are finally going to get hot after scoring 4 runs Wednesday and 6 on Thursday. Kevin Kiermaier led the way, going 3-3 with a solo homer, a hustle double, a walk, and a stolen base. Kiermaier continues to impress with not only his hitting (his batting average is .379), but his all-out play. As he continues to perform, he is only going to see more and more playing time. David DeJesus, Evan Longoria, Desmond Jennings, and Matt Joyce all had 2 hits, and Ben Zobrist hit his second home run in as many games.

The Rays will begin another series back at home on Friday against the Seattle Mariners, with Erik Bedard and Chris Young on the mound at 7:10 ET.