The Tampa Bay Rays offense looked very good on Tuesday night, but the pitching was a total disaster and two injuries were a further downer as the team lost 11-7 to the Minnesota Twins.
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To start with the negatives, Nate Karns had his worst start of the season by a pretty large margin, allowing 5 runs on 4 hits in 3 innings, striking out 3 while walking 4. After giving up a three-run homer to Miguel Sano in the first inning, he stranded runners at the corners in the second by striking out Byron Buxton and forcing Brian Dozier to fly out. He hoped to do something similar in the third inning, walking Joe Mauer and Sano to start the frame before retiring Trevor Plouffe and Eddie Rosario, but Torii Hunter delivered a demoralizing two-run single. Karns simply had no fastball command, throwing the pitch for a strike less than half the times he threw it and missing badly far too often.
Matt Andriese was next up and provided no relief at all. His 5 strikeouts against 1 walk was a good sign, but his 5 run on 5 hits in 3 innings was quite bad. Dozier tagged him for a two-run homer in the fourth before he came apart with two outs and a runner on in the fifth as he allowed a trio of additional runs. He was throwing strikes (except for with his curveball), but there were too many missed locations. Xavier Cedeno then surrendered a Rosario homer in his inning of work.
Also in the bad news category, Desmond Jennings left the game with a bruise on his recently surgically repaired left knee while Curt Casali strained his hamstring. Jennings could be fine, but tweets like this can’t leave you encouraged about Casali.
Casali has delivered nice results this season, essentially becoming the Rays’ starting catcher, and it would be quite unfortunate if he needed to go on the DL. J.P. Arencibia and Luke Maile are internal candidates to replace him if need be, although the Rays may also look to make a waiver deal.
In better news, James Loney went 3 for 5 with 2 doubles, 3 RBI, and a run, Kevin Kiermaier went 3 for 5 with 2 stolen bases and an RBI, and John Jaso went 2 for 4 with a double, a walk, an RBI, and a run scored. It will be annoying when Loney has to serve that one-game suspension as he is finally swinging a hot bat. Kiermaier, meanwhile, keeps getting better at stealing bases–he is now up to 15 in 18 attempts this year. Could he be a 30-steal guy in 2016? Asdrubal Cabrera also added an RBI triple while Casali at least homered before his injury became apparent as he rounded first base.
Finally, Enny Romero was mostly good to finish the game, striking out 3 while allowing just a hit in 2 shutout innings. He was the only Rays pitcher not to give up a run. The one hit was a triple and Plouffe bailed him out by hitting a groundball on a 3-0 pitch, but he reached as high as 99 MPH with his fastball and also showed flashes with his slider/cutter. This is the type of game that makes you think that Romero could be a really good reliever at some point, although his overall body of work begs to differ.