With Alex Cobb set to undergo Tommy John Surgery and Drew Smyly returning to the DL with shoulder soreness, the Tampa Bay Rays need pitchers like Nate Karns and Alex Colome to step up more than ever. Karns certainly looked up to the task as he took the mound against the Texas Rangers after his team had lost to Texas on Thursday night. Karns’ dominance was paired with impressive offense as the Rays beat the Rangers 8-2.
Nate Karns’ outing ended in disappointing fashion as he allowed a solo home run to Adam Rosales to start the eighth inning and a single that later came around to score before getting pulled. After Karns hadn’t thrown a single pitch in the sixth inning in his previous two starts, it is quite incredible that he lasted that long. Karns finished with 7+ innings allowing 2 runs on 4 hits, striking out 9 while walking 2. He threw a career-high 117 pitches, and he looked good enough that Kevin Cash just let him keep going.
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On the game, Karns threw a grand total of one changeup according to Brooks Baseball. He even threw only 29 curveballs, less than a quarter of his pitches, and missed the strike zone with over half of them. And in regards to his fastball, there were times were his delivery got out of sync and he missed badly above the zone two or three pitches in a row. Yet at all other times, Karns’ command of his heater was on point, and the result was feeble swings from opposing hitters. Four of his strikeouts were whiffs on fastballs up and three more of them were looking on fastballs down.
Karns was only supported with one run on a David DeJesus solo shot in the second inning–until the Tampa Bay Rays offense broke through against Yovani Gallardo in the sixth. After Evan Longoria drilled an RBI single, the Rangers brought in reliever Alex Claudio to face DeJesus, but despite it being relatively early in the game, Cash pinch-hit for DeJesus with Guyer. The move worked to perfection as Guyer drilled a pinch-hit three-run home run to make it 5-0 Rays at the time.
As alluded to above, the top of the eighth inning saw Texas pull within 5-2, but the Rays put the game away in the bottom of the frame. Singles from James Loney, Longoria, and Guyer loaded the bases before Tim Beckham hit a sac fly and Jake Elmore delivered a two-run single in his last at-bat with the Rays before getting sent down to Triple-A. For once, the Rays were excellent with runners in scoring position, going 4 for 8 and leaving just 4 men on base in this game.
It isn’t too often that the Rays offense explodes for five runs–let alone delivers eight–but this team can seem unbeatable when their starters are performing as expected and the offense comes around. The dream is that the bats can get hot and lead to several more games like this. The Rays will take on the Rangers once again tomorrow with Matt Andriese returning from Triple-A to take on Ross Detwiler beginning at 6:10 PM EST. Andriese replaces Jake Odorizzi, who was scratched with flu-like symptoms but may be ready for Sunday’s game.