The Tampa Bay Rays scored five runs on Friday, and that needs to be enough for them to win. They admittedly had some things go wrong, particularly Jake McGee allowing a two-run homer to Mike Napoli in the eighth inning to give the Boston Red Sox a 6-5 lead, and they also stranded 13 runners on base. However, their 4 for 14 mark with runners in scoring position (.286) certainly isn’t anything to be ashamed about, and it is isn’t as though Erasmo Ramirez pitched so poorly. The big thing to be upset about in this game is what transpired in the bottom of the first inning.
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With one out, Logan Forsythe made a fielding error at first base and then Tim Beckham made another at second. In another world, the inning is over and the Rays finish the frame with a one-run lead. Instead, neither play was made and Ramirez wound up throwing 33 pitches in the inning on his way to allowing three runs. If even one out of two plays had been made, Boston would have only scored once. We can talk about the fallacy of the predetermined outcome all we want–who knows how this game turns out if the Rays field those two groundballs cleanly–but allowing three unnecessary runs and two that were especially heinous lowered the Rays’ win probability by a large margin.
It is pretty remarkable that the Rays even had a lead going to the bottom of the seventh inning. Curt Casali has faded into the background again, but Evan Longoria went 3 for 4 with a walk to continue his recent hot streak, Steven Souza Jr. went 2 for 5 with an RBI, and rookie Mikie Mahtook had arguably the biggest game of all, going 2 for 4 with a double, an RBI, and 2 runs scored. Then there was John Jaso, who pinch-hit for Casali in the seventh and delivered a go-ahead two-run double. If the Rays offense looks anywhere near this good moving forward, this team will be going places.
Unfortunately, this happened to be the game where the defense collapsed–Beckham later made another error–and McGee had one of his few rough appearances. With two outs and nobody on, he walked David Ortiz and allowed Napoli’s two-run shot. Things like that happen unfortunately, although the hope is that the we won’t see McGee struggle like this again for a quite a while.
The mysteries following the game were the move made and the one that wasn’t. Mahtook was optioned to Triple-A Durham even though the Rays will likely face another left-handed starter in Boston on Sunday and more in Chicago, and we will have to see who they call up to replace him. Topkin suggests Grady Sizemore and J.P. Arencibia as possibilities–at least for right now, Arencibia sounds more likely simply because at least he hits right-handed. His power off the bench would be interesting, although his plate discipline is positively horrific.
On the pitching side, meanwhile, it is perplexing that the Rays haven’t yet designated Brandon Gomes for assignment. He allowed another run in the eighth inning, giving him a 6.75 ERA in his last 23 appearances that goes up to 9.00 in his last 13 games. He has lost Kevin Cash‘s trust entirely and is essentially only a mop-up guy at this point. The Rays have altered his approach of late, having him throw more sliders, but it has done nothing at all to help him.