The Tampa Bay Rays have won three straight to bring their record to 4-1 on the season. Last night, they continued their path of destruction en route to first place.
The Tampa Bay Rays and Atlanta Braves looked like a competitive series on paper before they got started. The Rays have dominated the highly touted team from Atlanta in the first two games. Their pitching has stifled the Braves and contributed 31 of their NL leading 52 strikeouts.
On Monday night the Rays set a single-game franchise record with 19 Ks and got another 12 last night, including a rare four-strikeout night for the great Freddie Freeman. That’s the first time that has happened in over three years.
Yonny Chirinos started the game for the Rays and struck out four batters allowing one run but none earned. After missing time with COVID-19, Yonny looked good despite returning right at the end of summer camp.
Tampa Bay Rays – Yoshi Tsutsugo Continues to Impress
Yoshitomo Tsutsugo continues to impress. Manager Kevin Cash reminded everyone after the game that he’s a veteran baseball player with major-league talent. Braves starter Kyle Wright walked the bases loaded in the bottom of the third inning to see Tsutsugo step in with two outs in a clutch spot.
Tsutsugo got a breaking ball low and away, in the zone. He stayed back and showed great plate coverage with his big bat and gave it a ride into rightfield, scoring two runs and kicking off what would be a five-run third.
Yoshi now has five RBI on the season, tying him for the team lead with Brandon Lowe.
Tampa Bay Rays – Bullpen Usage
Here’s an interesting note regarding reliever usage. Nick Anderson was again brought in at an important juncture and not to close out the game, a traditional sense.
After Ryan Thompson walked Ronald Acuna Jr. with two outs and Johan Camargo on third in the bottom of the seventh, the Rays turned to Nick Anderson to face Ozzie Albies, who could make it a one-run game with one swing of the bat. The second baseman was able to line one to right and score Camargo to make it a three-run game.
Superstar Freddie Freeman stepped in and represented the tying run. Anderson vs. Freeman with the game hanging on the balance. This is the matchup you want. Anderson is not the “closer” for the Rays but he is the guy that will get us out of a jam to give someone else an opportunity to close the game in the ninth.
That’s exactly what Anderson accomplished tonight as he got Freeman on three pitches. The second pitch was 94 at the top of the zone followed by a nasty breaking ball that plummeted out of the zone and into the dirt. Freeman was totally lost as he waved at the ball and headed back to the dugout. He had to be thinking to himself, “These boys are nasty!”
Oliver Drake came in to close the game out in the ninth, beginning with Ender Inciarte. The speedy outfielder attempted to bunt the first pitch, but it had so much spin on it that it wrapped around the barrel of his bat a couple of times and launched foul.
He got Ender on three consecutive splitters. Inciarte gave a hopeless cut at the final strike and looked into the sky and appeared to ask a higher being what sort of devilry the former Devil Rays were using to make their balls move like they were possesed by demons. Either that or he just said a bad word.
Tampa Bay Rays – Team Ranks
Despite being without their star offensive player Austin Meadows, the Rays are second in the league in runs scored and second in team OPS with an impressive .882. They are also second in total walks, fourth in homers, and first in doubles.
The pitching staff’s 46 strikeouts is good for tops in the American League and second in all of baseball behind only the Reds.