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Tampa Bay Rays Game 44: Disastrous 6th Inning Downs Rays

By Robbie Knopf

The Tampa Bay Rays offense was stifled by Oakland Athletics rookie Kendall Graveman while their pitching finally came apart in the sixth inning as the Rays lost 5-0. Nate Karns worked around baserunners in the first through fourth innings, but after his first 1-2-3 inning in the fifth, he had a tougher time again in the following frame. He departed with two on and two outs in favor of Xavier Cedeno, a move that has worked for the Rays on several occasions. This time it did not.

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Cedeno entered the game with 12 appearances and 8.1 innings pitched as a member of the Rays. He had allowed just 6 hits and 2 walks (1 intentional) in that span, striking out 8 on his way to allowing not a single run. He had inherited 8 runners, and not one of them had scored either. However, on just his fourth pitch, Eric Sogard hit a groundball up the middle to give the A’s a 1-0 lead. He then walked Max Muncy to load the bases before he allowed another single and saw his defense collapse behind him. Both Kevin Kiermaier and Rene Rivera committed errors as the A’s went ahead 4-0.

Karns finished with 5.2 innings allowing 2 runs on 7 hits, striking out 2 while walking 1. The 2 strikeouts were his fewest since his third MLB start back on June 9, 2013, when he was a member of the Washington Nationals. He had struck out less than 4 batters only once this season. Karns didn’t have much of a feel for his curveball and resorted to an extreme fastball-heavy approach, throwing his heater around 80% of the time, and that was enough for him to keep the Rays in this game. Unfortunately for him, Cedeno couldn’t get out of that sixth unscathed.

Cedeno’s outing was certainly bad, but both singles came on groundballs and he couldn’t have done anything about the poor defense from two of the Rays’ best fielders. You never know with LOOGY’s, but there is reason to believe that this game is just a blip on the radar. He won’t be spotless, but he has shown enough to be a solid pitcher for this team.

Another lefty, Enny Romero, joined the team for this game and finished the it with 3 innings pitched. He went 3 innings allowing 1 run on 1 hit, striking out 3 while walking 5. He mirrored his other big league outing back on September 22, 2013, when he allowed just 1 hit but 4 walks in 4.2 shutout innings. His control has been iffy, but he remains difficult to hit when he throws strikes. That could be enough to make him a successful big league pitcher, but it is hard to believe that he can be an effective starter. He was optioned to Durham after the game.

The Rays didn’t get much on offense, although David DeJesus went 2 for 2 with a walk and a hit-by-pitch. They made things interesting when they were down 5-0 in the ninth inning against Tyler Clippard, loading the bases with two outs, but Joey Butler struck out to end the game. The loss takes the Rays to 24-20 on the season and they will hope to take three out of four against the A’s tomorrow. Erasmo Ramirez will go up against Sonny Gray beginning at 1:10 PM.

Next: Tampa Bay Rays MiLB Recap: German Marquez Tosses 7 Shutout IP