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Tampa Bay Rays Game 138: Making Sense of What Transpired

By Robbie Knopf
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The Tampa Bay Rays played a really crazy baseball game last night. It is already the morning and many of you are ready to move on, but let’s discuss a few things.

Erasmo Ramirez: Ramirez looked extremely good for the first five innings of this game. He gave up just 1 run on 3 hits, striking out 9 while walking 1. His lone mistake was yet another home run by Rajai Davis, but the strikeouts were already his season-high and it looked like he had rebounded well from rough results (5.87 ERA) in his previous three outings. Then the bottom of the sixth inning began after the Rays had rallied for four runs in the top of the frame, and everything came apart.

Anthony Gose started the frame with a legitimate line drive single to left-center before Ian Kinsler shot a hard groundball through the right side for another single. Then Ramirez had his first actual piece of bad luck in the inning as Miguel Cabrera hit a bloop to center that dropped in front of Kevin Kiermaier. Before we knew it, Ramirez was out of the game without recording an out in the sixth.

His next piece of bad luck is what happened in the bullpen behind him. Kevin Cash gave Matt Andriese another chance to go full Alex Colome and become an impact reliever for this team after beginning the year as a starter, but Andriese walked J.D. Martinez to force home a run before leaving the game. In came the real Alex Colome, and he blew by Nick Castellanos to strike him out. However, then a breaking ball got away from Colome and hit James McCann to let another run (Ramirez’s third of the game) in for Detroit.

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Colome then struck out Tyler Collins before a bizarre play happened with Andrew Romine at the plate. Romine hit a soft groundball in the right spot between short and third, which was bad enough luck by itself, but then Evan Longoria didn’t see that J.D. Martinez had stopped between third and home as the ball was being thrown in by Grady Sizemore. Longoria must have assumed that he was about to score–there was no reason that Martinez should have frozen–but instead of getting Martinez at home, Longoria got McCann out at third. Suddenly it was a 5-5 game, with three of the four runs in the inning being charged to Ramirez.

To summarize, Ramirez only gave up four runs in this game because A) Cabrera blooped a single just in front of Kiermaier, B) Cash brought in Matt Andriese first, C) the dominant Colome had a pitch get away from him and hit McCann, and D) Romine’s weak groundball found the perfect spot. Then the game was tied and Andriese’s runner scored because of Longoria’s mistake that negated Martinez’s mistake. Got that?

In any event, it was nice to see Ramirez look a lot better than he had in previous outings, and it’s just unfortunate that the numbers won’t confirm that. Inevitably, pieces will be written about Ramirez’s 6.20 ERA in his last four starts and this game also works out quite conveniently with the fact that the Rays haven’t let Ramirez face the opposing batting order three times very often, but he really did pitch well before some bizarre things took place.

Happy Birthday, Tigers: The Rays re-took the lead in the seventh on a pinch-hit RBI single by Daniel Nava only to let the Tigers tie the game in the most frustrating of fashions. Anthony Gose grounded a single to center before advancing to second base on a wild pitch. Then Rene Rivera–who had just come in for defense–blocked Colome’s breaking ball in the dirt in front of the plate, but Gose decided to head for third anyway as the ball bounded onto the infield. Rivera tried to throw on the run to get him only to let the throw get away, allowing Gose to score. In a span of three pitches, the Tigers received a single, two wild pitches, and an error to knot the game at 6.

Rajai Davis: With two outs in the eighth inning, Richie Shaffer hit a line drive to left field. The left fielder Davis was there, but he bobbled the ball and it fell out of his glove as he fell to the ground. Still, he showed the ball to the umpire moments later, and they called Shaffer out. The Rays challenged, but there simply wasn’t a camera angle that supported their position. We honestly don’t know whether that ball hit the ground or not.

But then Davis dropped another ball! In the ninth, the Rays had the bases loaded with one out when Evan Longoria did his job and hit a flyball to left to get the tying run in. Davis was there to make the catch…but then the ball came loose and this time, there was no debate. At least, there was no debate on the fact that he dropped the ball. The Tigers challenged a different part of the play, whether Nick Franklin was off third base when Josh Wilson tagged him, and there was insufficient evidence to overturn the call of safe. Franklin was not the goat of the season once again.

The saga continued in the 11th inning when Davis hit a groundball to first and was called out on Shaffer’s flip to Brandon Gomes covering. Instead, a replay revealed that he had dived into first before Gomes’ foot touched the bag. Then the Rays thought that they had picked him off and challenged that only to get the call upheld. Davis was then balked to second for good measure before Gomes managed to strand him there.

Nate KarnsKarns’ first relief outing of the season started in disastrous fashion as J.D. Martinez homered into the left field seats. Then he found himself and wound up being quite a valuable pitcher in this game. He finished with 3 innings allowing that 1 run on 4 hits, striking out 4 while walking 1. It was great to have a pitcher like Karns in an extra-inning game, and he certainly has the ability to an impact guy even if he isn’t starting contests.

Andrew Bellatti: Bellatti returned to the major leagues after struggling significantly to end his Triple-A tenure, but he looked like nothing at all was wrong in his first inning. He struck out Miguel Cabrera and J.D. Martinez, two of the better hitters in baseball, to start the frame. Then he forced Nick Castellanos to hit a routine flyball to center.

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His second inning went a lot worse, but not because Bellatti pitched poorly. McCann hit a groundball to deep short, but Shaffer couldn’t scoop Asdrubal Cabrera‘s throw, allowing McCann to beat out the play. Shaffer has much more offensive potential than James Loney and hasn’t played first base for very long, but we do have to think that Loney would have come up with that throw. Then Jefry Marte bunted the ball and Bellatti failed to field it cleanly, allowing Marte to reach. The Tigers gave the Rays an out, but they couldn’t take it. Romine then sacrificed again before none other than Davis brought home the winning run on a sac fly fielded by Grady Sizemore in left.

There was so much more that we could discuss, but let’s leave at that. Last night’s game was a great one–although more because of an unbelievable number of mistakes by both teams and the bizarreness of the challenges with Davis than actual good baseball–and unfortunately, the Rays could not come out ahead. We will finish with everyone’s least favorite statistic: the Rays are now just 2-12 in extra-inning games. At least this one wasn’t Brad Boxberger‘s fault.

Next: Tampa Bay Rays: Steven Souza Jr., September and Beyond

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