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Tampa Bay Rays Game 12: Bullpen Crumbles in 9-0 Loss

By Robbie Knopf

Jake Odorizzi isn’t perfect. That is an obvious statement, and there certainly isn’t anything wrong with it. After looking very good in his first five innings against the New York Yankees on Saturday night, Odorizzi allowed a pair of walks and a two-out triple from Brian McCann to give New York a 2-0 lead in the sixth frame. He then allowed a leadoff single in the seventh that came around to score after he left the game.

Odorizzi’s final numbers were still fine. He went 6 innings allowing 3 runs on 5 hits, striking out 9 while walking 2. It wasn’t his best outing, but he certainly kept the Rays in the game and might have tossed shutout ball with a little bit better luck. Odorizzi prompted no reason for concern, no reason for even discussion, but the relievers who appeared behind him were another story.

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The Yankees pulled away to take a 9-0 lead in the seventh inning as they scored seven times against C.J. Riefenhauser and Grant Balfour in the frame. The command issues that we didn’t want to think about for Riefenhauser resurfaced while Balfour’s problems from last year have now lingered in a significant way. We know about the danger of analyzing small sample sizes, but he now has a 6.23 ERA and no strikeouts against 4 walks in 4.1 innings. How long can the Rays stick with him?

At least some hope in the game came in the form of Jose Dominguez, who faced the minimum six batters in pitching the last two innings of the game. He allowed a single that was promptly erased on a double play that was the first time Ryan Brett fielded the ball in the major leagues. Overall, he went 2 innings allowing just that hit, striking out 2 while walking none and getting his 4 other outs on the ground.

Speaking of Brett, he flied out in his first big league plate appearance but did manage a walk in his second. The first hit will be the next thing on Brett’s agenda as he won’t be in the big leagues for long but remains one of the Rays’ top second base prospects. Kevin Cash lamented in spring training that the Rays didn’t have enough playing time to get Brett many at-bats in big league camp, but bringing Brett to the majors has to make up for that.

The loss takes the Tampa Bay Rays to 6-6 on the year, and now they find themselves hoping to simply salvage a game in this three-game series against the Yankees at home. Matt Andriese will make his second big league start opposing Michael Pineda.

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