Tampa Bay Rays bats scorched to life against a very talented Atlanta Braves team in the first game of a four-game set.
The Tampa Bay Rays finished in the middle of the league, tying for 15th in runs scored last season. After the first three games this year, concerns began to creep up as they struggled to hit starting pitching. The team was able to squeak out a couple of exciting victories late in two of the games.
Today, the Braves rolled Mike Foltynewicz to start their fourth game of the year. Folty struggled with an injury in the beginning of last season but put together a very solid second half. In all, he was in contention for the Cy Young in 2018 and looked back to form at the end of 2019.
Last night, something was wrong with the former flame thrower averaged 96.5 mph on his fastball in his 2018 campaign that landed him a spot on the All-Star team. Last night, he averaged just 89.3 mph on his fastball.
With the starting pitcher not equipped with his stuff, the Rays overwhelmed him. Mike Zunino jumped on a third-inning breaking ball just off the outside corner. At 79 mph, Zunino showed what kind of power his long loopy swing can generate, and just how much range it has as he reached out over the plate and pulled a slow slider off the plate over the left-center wall.
In the bottom of the fourth, Foltynewicz was sweating as he had walked Martinez and Tsutsugo to put two men on as Renfroe (33 HRs in 2019) stepped in.
Tampa Bay Rays – Hunter Renfroe Show
Foltynewicz rared back, grunted, and put the pedal to the medal with the heater. Unfortunately for the pitcher, the parking brake was on. Foltynewicz watched helplessly as his formerly 95-100 mph fastball crawled in at 89 mph right over the heart of the plate.
Hunter Renfroe gave it a free ride to the bleachers, giving the Rays a 4-1 lead. The next pitch was also right over the middle of the plate at 83 mph and Joey Wendle cashed in on it. The changeup came in just six mph slower than the last fastball to Renfroe.
Foltynewicz walked the next batter, Adames, and that would be the end of his night. The Braves would designate him for assignment following the game.
The Rays didn’t let up after that as they ended up putting 14 runs on the board for the night. They got six on Foltynewicz in 3.1 innings, six on his replacement Touki Toussaint in 2.2 IP, one on A.J. Minter in 0.2 IP, and one on Grant Dayton in 1.1 IP.
Kevin Kiermaier came into the game with just one hit on the season, although it was a walk-off triple in the 10th inning of Sunday’s game against the Blue Jays. He had been putting some strong at-bats together and is finally seeing some balls get through, earning another hit in this game.
Brandon Lowe continues to see the ball well as he finished with a double and a triple, bringing his OPS to 1.563 on the young season.
Renfroe ended the day 3-5 with four RBI and two homers. The Rays had 13 hits, six walks, and 12 strikeouts.