At the very least, the Tampa Bay Rays’ seven-game losing streak is over. In the best-case scenario, their recent run of poor play is finally in the past and they will get back to looking like one of the best teams in the American League. Either way, they sit just just two games back in the AL East and one game back in the Wild Card, and this game reminds us how good they can be even when everything isn’t clicking.
The Rays’ offense did extremely well against Ivan Nova, and for once, it actually put away the opposition later in the game. A David DeJesus single and an Evan Longoria double gave the Rays second and third with one out in the first inning, and James Loney drove them both in with a two-run single. Kevin Kiermaier tripled in the second, and after Jake Elmore walked, Curt Casali contributed a sac fly. Most of the Rays’ remaining five runs came with the help of errors, although Logan Forsythe did contribute an RBI single while Asdrubal Cabrera delivered a sac fly.
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This wasn’t a flashy Rays offense in this game, even as they scored eight runs. There were no home runs and just two extra-base hits, both doubles. For once, however, the Rays’ hitters were opportunistic. A 2-for-7 mark with runners in scoring position doesn’t stand out, but Loney and Forsythe both came up big and those 2 hits don’t include the sac flies. It is awfully difficult to get hits in baseball, but the better hitters are able to hit the flyballs and the grounders to short that score runs even without the batter reaching safely. Nice job by the Rays offense executing in that regard in this game, and hopefully that will become a more common occurrence.
Erasmo Ramirez wasn’t exactly dominant, but he certainly got the job done for the Rays in this game. He tossed 6 innings allowing 1 run on 3 hits, striking out 3 while walking 3. He escaped a bases-loaded jam in the first inning with the help of a nice play by James Loney, and he also got past two baserunners in the second. He finally did give up an Alex Rodriguez solo homer in the sixth, but he stranded a runner on second base to finish his outing.
Xavier Cedeno needed to record four outs in the seventh after a strikeout pitch went back to the screen and allowed Jose Pirela to reach, but he did so successfully by starting a smooth 1-4-3 double play. Then, because of their big lead, the Rays were able to use Everett Teaford to finish the game, and he did a nice job, tossing 2 hitless innings and striking out 2 while walking 1. We could easily hear of his designation for assignment in the next 24 hours, but it was nice boost for the Rays to save their bullpen, especially in a game that they won.
The one the negative in the game was that Steven Souza Jr. exited after getting hit in the pinkie by a pitch in the eighth inning. X-rays were negative, but evidently he needed three stitches and the cut was very deep. He is day-to-day for now, and it’s nice for the Rays to have a guys like Grady Sizemore and Brandon Guyer ready to slide it to take his place in the lineup. Right field may be more complicated–it may have to be Guyer just because Sizemore is a well below-average defender–but we know that Guyer is a fine hitter anyway. Hopefully Souza can avoid a DL stint because the Rays have had enough of those.
Next up for the Tampa Bay Rays are the defending AL champions and the team with the best record in the league this season, the Kansas City Royals. Alex Colome will get the nod on Monday at 8:10 PM EST against Edinson Volquez. The Rays are hoping that tomorrow’s game will be his last start for a while–Jake Odorizzi will make his final rehab start in the minor leagues on Monday and should push Colome to the bullpen.