Tampa Bay Rays Game 20: Nate Karns, Relievers Falter

By Robbie Knopf

Nate Karns led the American League in two statistics entering Monday’s action: walks (14) and wild pitches (4). Overall, his 5.32 ERA was poor, and his 7.6 K/9, 5.3 BB/9, and 1.9 HR/9 prompted little reason for optimism. We know that Karns has the stuff to be a successful big league starter and he has shown it on a few occasions. However, after he demonstrated it once again to begin his start against the New York Yankees, it disappeared at the end of his outing.

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Karns finished with 4.2 innings allowing 1 run on 3 hits, striking out 5 while walking 2. He needed 87 pitches to last that long in the game, but the amount of effort he put in didn’t have to take away from his results. He allowed just a baserunner each in the second and fourth innings and retired the first two hitters he faced in the fifth. His curveball was dynamic and he also had one of his better fastballs. Before we knew it, though, he had allowed two walks and a single before leaving the game. Karns has one quality start in five tries this season.

Karns seems likely to stick in the Rays’ rotation for a while longer–it is hard to believe that the Rays would keep Erasmo Ramirez over him. They will keep hoping that something clicks and helps him hit his stride for longer stretches. He will get as many chances as the Rays can give him, but it can’t be too long before he ends up at Triple-A or in the bullpen unless something starts to change.

The one run Karns allowed came when Brandon Gomes issued a bases-loaded walk. He would up allowing 2 more runs in an inning of work on a Brian McCann home run and a Stephen Drew RBI double after Everett Teaford entered the game. Teaford had an extremely questionable outing, allowing 1 run on 4 hits and 2 walks in 2.1 innings, but it was big for the Rays that he saved their bullpen. The Yankees won this game, but they had to use their key relievers while the Rays saved Brad Boxberger, Kevin Jepsen, Ernesto Frieri, and Steve Geltz.

It looked like promising things were ahead for the Rays when Steven Souza hustled out a one-out single in the first inning and Asdrubal Cabrera followed with a ground-rule double. After an Evan Longoria strikeout and a James Loney groundout, the Rays had blown their best offensive chance in the game. They did steal a run in the sixth inning as David DeJesus singled, advanced to second on an Adam Warren wild pitch, moved to third on a flyball, and scored thanks to a ridiculous slide on Asdrubal Cabrera’s groundball to second base with the infield in.

Longoria failed to come up in that first inning but did stay hot by going 2 for 4 to raise his average to .318. We’ve already mentioned all of the Rays’ other hits but one, a Rene Rivera single in the third. Warren worked out of that early jam and rolled the rest of the way before the Yankees bullpen finished off their team’s 4-1 win.

Tomorrow, the Tampa Bay Rays will take on the Yankees once again, with Jake Odorizzi going up against Chase Whitley in the latter’s 2015 debut.

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