Blue Jays 4 at Rays 6
The difference in tonight’s game essentially came down to Robbie Ray not being able to finish off the Rays in the middle innings, and the Jays not exploiting opportunities right at the end. Add in some sloppy play and terribly inconsistent home plate umping, and it was a typically frustrating loss at Tropicana.
From the beginning, Ray was not as sharp as he’s been in most of the season, and his velocity was down a little (low-90s rather than mid-90s). The Rays strategy appears to grind him down, and they did with a 23 pitch first inning. Ray was more efficient in the 2nd and 3rd, working around a lone single by Kevin Kiermayer, assisted by him not not retouching third base before retreating to second on a fly out for a double play to end the inning.
He narrowly avoided damage in the 4th, but the Rays once again piled up with pitch count. After a lead off single, Manny Margot worked him for a 12 pitch pitch walk, though he was thrown out by Alejandro Kirk on the back end of a double steal. He then issued anothe rwalk before getting out of the inning, but at 75 pitches.
The Rays finally got him in the 5th. A pair of one out singles brought Yandy Diaz up, and he hit a ball just over the wall for a three run shot that flipped the lead. The most painful part of that that was Ray had both Kiermayer (second single) and Diaz in two strikes holes, but couldn’t finish them off before the did the damage. A two out double ended his night, and Julian Merryweather came in to finish the inning (and no further).
The Rays were able to build their lead against a series of relievers:
- Tayler Saucedo came out for the the 6th, which to me was curious since it was a one run game and as the most recent call-up is literally the last guy in the pen. A leadoff HBP came back to bite as Jake Lamb made a very bad throw with two out on a Kiermayer groundout. Teoscar was slow getting it back in, so Kiermayer tried to score. He was beat by a mile but almost scored when Kirk made a terrible tag attempt.
- The 7th was Nate Pearson’s, and gave up some hard contact and a two out run after a walk pitch and single.
- Ryan Borucki gave up a cheap wall scraping home run to Joey Wendle in the 8th
These tack on runs came back to bite hard...
Offensively, the Jays didn’t do very much against Shane Baz making his major league debut. Teoscar Hernandez jumped on a elevated fastball in the 2nd inning for a solo shot, and Lourdes Gurriel added his own on a slider over the plate in the 5th inning that went screaming over the left-centre wall. Those are significant caveats to be sure, but other than that Shane Baz was perfect. He was very impressive with upper 90s heat and breaking balls ranging from the low-to-mid-80s.
Collin McHugh rolled over the Jays for two perfect innings, and JP Feyereisen would have but for a leadoff error on a routine ground ball. Going to the 9th, the Jays had two home runs and a reached on error to show for their offensive efforts, with David Robertson looking to lock down the win.
George Springer led off the inning by lofting a popup down the right field line, that fell in with the Rays shifted. Marcus Semien smashed the third home run of the night to pull the Jays within two. Vladimir Guerrero Jr followed with a walk, and the Rays went to J.T. Chargois.
He was very wild, but the Jays couldn’t take advantage. Bichette worked a 3-1 count, but his trademark aggressiveness hurt him in this case as he flew out weakly. Teoscar should have walked, with a strike called against him that was a full width of the ball outside, and then struck out.
Danny Jansen singled, and Gurriel worked a walk to load the bases, so the Rays went to their third reliever Dietrich Enns. Breyvic Valera worked a 3-0 count, had a close 3-1 pitch go against him that probably should have been ball four, had another ball four click off his bat on a check swing before being frozen on an actual strike to end the game.
Update 9/21: Kulpa’s strike zone was in fact really bad and lopsided:
Jays of the Day: Gurriel (+0.151 WPA). Despite the HR, Semien ends up in negative territory.
Suckage: Ray (-0.197), Valera (-0.143), Bichette (-0.119). Home plate ump Ron Kulpa gets one for an atrociously inconsistent zone.
Tomorrow, the Jays will look to even the series with Alek Manoah facing off against Drew Rasmussen in a matchup of rookie righties. Same time (7:05 eastern), same place (hell), and if you thought tonight’s home plate ump was bad, Jow West is behind the plate (bonus hell).