The last game of the series pitting the Tampa Bay Rays against the Toronto Blue Jays was a matchup between Chris Archer against Marco Estrada. Archer had owned the Blue Jays over his last three outings, giving up only one run in 22 innings. Estrada, meanwhile, was a flyball pitcher featuring a solid fastball and a good changeup who had also been strong in his last appearance against the Rays, going 8.2 innings in a no-decision.
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The game started out as a pitchers’ duel with the Rays having the first chance to score in the third, when Tim Beckham opened the Rays’ half of the inning with a double. Kevin Kiermaier bunted him to third. With a runner on third and one out, Rene Rivera hit a shallow fly to left field and Beckham remained at third. Then, with the lefty-hitting John Jaso at the plate, Blue Jays catcher Dioner Navarro snapped a throw to third and caught Beckham off the bag for the third out. Once again, the Rays had not scored with a runner in scoring position and less than two outs, and you especially don’t want to see it happen like that.
In the fifth inning, Justin Smoak opened the frame with a single. The next batter was Chris Colabello, and he hit a hanging slider for a two-run homer. It was Archer’s only mistake, but it was essentially the end of the game. Though Archer went on to pitch three more scoreless innings, the Rays could manage only two more hits. Brandon Gomes gave up a two-run home run to Jose Bautista in the eighth inning to put the frosting on the cake for the Blue Jays.
It was a tough loss and a tough series for the Rays as it once again exposed the team’s offensive weaknesses. With the exception of Jake Odorizzi’s five-run blowup inning in the first game, the Rays pitched well, but it’s tough to win a series when you only get 17 hits and five runs. Also worth noting is that Gomes, despite decent results earlier in the year, now has an ERA above 4.00 with metrics like FIP pegging his ERA at 4.90 or even higher. He had a nice run for a while, but the league has adjusted to him once again and it may be time for the Rays to replace him.
It’s now on to Philadelphia for three games against the struggling Phillies. In a National League park, the Rays will have one less bat in the order, but facing one of the worst teams in baseball will hopefully make up for that and then some. Matt Moore will hope to find himself as he opposes David Buchanan in the opener, which will begin at 7:05 PM EST on Monday.