Prior to all of the injuries, the Tampa Bay Rays were expected to finish the 2015 season somewhere around .500. Now, people have lowered their expectations even more. However, is that something that can turn around? If the Rays play .500 ball while everyone is out, will there be more optimism that they can be better than that and compete in the AL East?
That is a question that will underscore the next few weeks for the Rays, and all we can say right now is that the Rays have made it to .500 and will hope to stay there. They took two of three from the Miami Marlins, finishing off their first series win of 2015 with an 8-5 win on Sunday afternoon.
We’ve already seen good Nate Karns and bad Nate Karns just in his brief big league time, and this game certainly featured the good version. Karns went 7 innings allowing 2 runs, 1 earned, on just 2 hits, striking out 6 while walking 2. Unfortunately for him, the baserunners he allowed were bunched together–a walk and an error led to a sac fly in the fourth inning before a walk and a triple scored another in the fifth–but he kept his composure on his way to a huge outing.
Karns initially received a run of support in the first inning when Asdrubal Cabrera delivered an RBI single. Luckily for him, there was more where that came from as David DeJesus drilled a three-run homer in the fifth to give the Rays a 5-1 lead. The Marlins got a run back only to see the Rays make it 6-2 on a pinch-hit RBI triple from Tim Beckham and an RBI double from Rene Rivera. Beckham and Rivera came up with another RBI hit each to give the Rays their final tally of 8 runs.
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The Tampa Bay Rays bullpen was sketchy behind Karns as Kirby Yates allowed two inherited runners from Jeff Beliveau to score and Ernesto Frieri allowed a Jarrod Saltalamacchia home run. Even so, Frieri recorded a save as the Rays managed to finish the game without using Brad Boxberger and Kevin Jepsen. It is still early in the year and those two likely could have appeared again, but their workload will get crazy as the year progresses and Kevin Cash did a nice job saving their bullets for later.
When you score 8 runs, you are doing a lot of things right offensively. That was certainly the case for the Rays in this game. Rene Rivera hadn’t hit at all entering the game but proceeded to go 3 for 4 with 2 doubles, 2 RBI, and a run scored. Tim Beckham continued his excellent performance from Friday by going 2 for 2 with a triple, 2 RBI, and a run scored. Four at-bats don’t mean a ton, but it is great to see Beckham flashing his potential to help the Rays win.
David DeJesus, Kevin Kiermaier, and Asdrubal Cabrera all had multi-hit games for the Rays as well as they all find themselves at .320 or above to begin the year. Several members of the Rays offense are off to great starts, and the team certainly needs them to continue that in the coming weeks and month.
Next up for the Tampa bay Rays will be a trip to Rogers Centre to take on the Toronto Blue Jays at 7:07 PM tomorrow night. Jake Odorizzi will hope to follow through and his excellent season debut by shutting down a Blue Jays team coming off a series win against the Baltimore Orioles.