Tampa Bay Rays Game 99: One Mistake Is All It Takes

By Robbie Knopf

Thankfully it was Joe Maddon‘s club and not the Tampa Bay Rays that was no-hit on Saturday afternoon. Luckily it was the team that the Rays had just played and not the team that they were playing that saw Cole Hamels finish his stint with the franchise in the best possible way. However, “not getting no-hit” hardly constitutes a victory. The Rays’ offense returned to silence while Erasmo Ramirez had one disastrous inning as the Baltimore Orioles beat the Rays 5-1.

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Erasmo Ramirez threw just 18 pitches through two perfect innings before J.J. Hardy started the top of the third with a line drive single. Travis Snider then flew out before Jonathan Schoop hit a line drive single off of Kevin Kiermaier‘s glove. Kiermaier did nothing wrong–it would have been a spectacular catch–but the ball also bounded away from him after he failed to catch it, costing him a chance at forcing Hardy at second base. Ramirez’s bad luck continued when David Lough‘s groundball found a hole to give the Orioles the bases loaded with only one out.

Up came Chris Davis, and Ramirez got ahead of him with a first-pitch slider. He then threw two fastballs up, and Davis whiffed at the second one to make it 1-2. However, Davis laid off another fastball up that was arguably a strike before declining to swing on a changeup down as well. Ramirez then left his 3-2 fastball mid-out, and suddenly it was 4-0 Orioles on Davis’ grand slam.

Ramirez finished with a season-high 7.1 innings allowing 5 runs on 7 hits, striking out 3 while walking none. He used just 95 pitches to go that far, throwing only 61 pitches in his 6.1 frames outside the third. He needed 11 pitches or less in five of his seven full innings. But the one mistake he made was a big one, and the Rays’ offense didn’t come close to making up for it.

Each of the Rays’ first five hitters hit the ball hard against Miguel Gonzalez, with Evan Longoria drilling a two-out double in the first inning. There were precious few instances of hard contact against Gonzalez after that. From the second to the seventh innings, the Rays could only manage singles from Kevin Kiermaier and James Loney plus a double from John Jaso. Curt Casali finally put them on the board with a solo home run in the eighth, but by then, it was far too late. Gonzalez allowed just that 1 run on 5 hits in 7.2 innings, striking out 5 while walking none.

The Tampa Bay Rays can still win their series against the Orioles with a victory tomorrow, but it will likely take something that we haven’t yet seen this season: a good start from Matt Moore. Moore’s stuff looked better in his last outing–will he finally be able to recapture his previous form? Moore will be opposed by fellow left-hander Wei-Yin Chen in a game set to begin at 1:10 PM EST.

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