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Tampa Bay Rays Game 158: Opportunity Seized in 5th Inning

By Robbie Knopf
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As you may have seen, I have gotten out of the swing of things with regards to posting at this site, but hopefully this recap is the start of me finally getting back on track. Expect more consistent content on both the major league and minor leagues sides in the next few days.

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The Tampa Bay Rays’ win over the Miami Marlins ended in sorry fashion. Brandon Gomes needed a spectacular catch to only  allow one run in the seventh inning before Jake McGee needed to bail him out. Enny Romero gave up another run in the eighth before Brad Boxberger let in another run even as he recorded his 40th save in the ninth. In this case, though, Boxberger’s run only came after an advance on defensive indifference and only happened because the Rays had built up a three-run lead. The Rays’ bullpen has cost them too many games this year, but this is the way that they could have counteracted that–by building leads big enough that it would take significant collapses, not just a few bad pitches, to let them get away.

Earlier in the game, Drew Smyly finally ended his every-other-start streak. The statistic that we have quoted in some form for each of his last five or so starts goes like this: since coming off the DL on August 16th, Smyly runs allowed per start had been 5, 0, 4, 0, 4, 0, 5, and 0 entering this outing. He had alternated great starts with mediocre ones, never posting anything in between or stringing together consecutive effective outings. Then this game came along, and Smyly prompted even more optimism for next season.

Smyly finished with 6 innings giving up 1 run on 3 hits, striking out 8 while walking 3. This was a funny game for Smyly as he threw his curveball 23 times and didn’t generate a single whiff, but his fastball was excellent while his cutter was solid in limited usage. For the second straight outing, he forced more groundballs than usual, and it will be interesting to see if he can keep that up. Smyly now has a 3.24 ERA since coming back from his torn labrum, and while his inconsistency was disconcerting, he looks healthy and has done well on the whole.

It took a while for the Rays to get going against Jarred Cosart. Cosart faced the minimum nine batters through the first three innings with the help of a double play, inciting memories of his major league debut where he took a no-hitter into the seventh inning on his way to out-dueling David Price. The Rays finally got two hits against Cosart in the fourth before loading the bases with nobody out, but they came away with only one run on an Asdrubal Cabrera sac fly. Then they had nothing going in the fifth inning, having two outs and nobody on, before somehow scoring four times. Baseball can be a strange game.

Nick Franklin gave the Rays a 2-1 lead with his third homer of the year on an elevated fastball mid-out. Needless to say, Franklin has been terrible on the whole this year, but he played well at Triple-A and in September in the majors, and the hope is that he is making the adjustments necessary for him to be a productive player in 2016. Franklin has had all sorts of issues with pitches up, recording just one hit in the upper third of the strike zone in his big league time, but this may have been his second.

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Then Cosart walked John Jaso and Steven Souza Jr., the same guys who had recorded the first two hits against him, before Souza beat out a potential force play at second base to extend the inning. Grady Sizemore then made Souza’s hustle matter, drilling a three-run double to make it a 5-1 game. The Rays have been very careful with Sizemore’s matchups in September, and the results have been very good as he is hitting .320 on the month. Maybe this is his last hurrah in a career that once seemed destined for greatness, or maybe this is the start of at least a few years as a productive platoon or bench player.

6-4 proved to be the final as the Tampa Bay Rays managed to defeat the Miami Marlins despite a shaky bullpen. The Rays will hope to sweep the Citrus Series tonight at they send Jake Odorizzi to the mound against Jose Fernandez.

Next: Tampa Bay Rays: Kevin Kiermaier Nearing Historic Defensive Season

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