Rays find new ways to break hearts

When I found out that I was recapping a Chris Sale vs Matt Andriese start, I was less than thrilled. What’s there to recap? It could read like a madlibs book.

(Blank) struck out helplessly to the Cy Young contender.

Sale tore through (Blank) like he tears through throwback jerseys.

Then the Rays lineup for tonight’s game was unveiled, and boy oh boy was it a doozy. This was former DFA’d role player bonanza: You got your Puello, you got your Espinoza, and you got your Plouffe. Even Peter Bourjos got into the starting lineup.

Baseball can be really strange

Trevor Plouffe batted cleanup. That’s right. Cleanup. Our number 4 hitter. The guy batting behind Longo. Kevin Cash took a dry erase marker, and wrote down Plouffe in the 4 spot. And, I imagine, took a very long swig of whiskey afterward.

Even though there’s absolutely no reason that this lineup should be able to get a hit, let alone a run, against one of the best pitchers in baseball, and the possible AL Cy Young winner, the funny thing about baseball is: on any night at the park, weird things can happen.

The Rays and a lineup with, and I really cannot stress this enough, Trevor Plouffe batting clean-up, were able to get to Sale for 4 earned runs and chase him in the 6th.

The Rays did it with long balls: HRs from Wilson Ramos and Adeiny Hechavarria. A triple from Bourjos after that Hech HR knocked Sale from the game. Ramos added his 2nd HR of the game later on to give the Rays a 5-2 lead late.

Andriese Bounces Back (kinda)

Matt Andriese has had some rough outings lately. Less than 2 innings pitched and 8 runs given up in his last outing, 5 runs the start before that, Andriese was in need of a bounce back performance.

Tonight, he did enough. Andriese was able to limit the Red Sox chances well, bouncing back from a tough start of the game, limiting it to just 1 run in the 1st. Andriese got into a rhythm and made it to the 5th tied against Sale, 1-1. Matt Andriese got chased after retiring Brock Holt for the first out, with back to back singles.

Sergio Romo would pick up Andriese, continuing his resurgent 2nd half with the Rays. Romo would start the bullpen party, and oh boy what a party it would be.

Bullpen Awesome. The Closer – not so much

The Rays would use 11 (!) relievers on this game, 5 to bridge the game to Alex Colome in the 9th.

Sergio Romo – Dan Jennings – Chaz Roe – Steve Cishek – Tommy Two Towels (aka Tommy Hunter)

All together: 3 23 IP, 1 H, 1 BB, 3 K, and most importantly 0 ER

…and then came the 9th.

Alex Colome is a very good relief pitcher. Of course, baseball cannot and will not give up the idea of a “closer” and being the best reliever the Rays have, Colome is in that role.

Colome has the most Saves in all of the MLB, at 44. Colome is also now in the top 10 of Blown Saves with 6. That tells me that Colome is a good reliever who is in Save situations frequently. It also continues to reaffirm my belief that having a good bullpen is important, but paying a premium for “Closers” is a suckers bet.

Well, all that being said, Colome had a rough 9th inning and blew his 6th Save. It wasn’t Colome’s fault entirely, but he did play a big role. First there was a Walk, followed by a Wild Pitch. Next came Danny Espinosa, starting as a right handed batter and mostly a defensive “upgrade” over Brad Miller at 2B, with a fielding error allowing a ball skipping under his glove.

Two more singles, and the game grew closer at 5-4, all with nobody out. Colome would again tempt us with perhaps a miraculous save of what should never have been this difficult. But alas, it was not to be one of the “nerve raking Saves” from Colome, but instead one of those frustrating “blown saves” from the big horse.

However, that was just the “Closer”. We are told, through larger salaries and a mysterious aura, that “Closers” aren’t really just simply relievers. Well, tonight, the Rays relievers continued to be just extraordinary.

4 more relievers would get the call, including Jose Alvarado who got out of the 9th inning jam keeping the game tied.

Extra Innings

Let me save you the time: Rays innings went quick, effortless, and without much threat.

Red Sox threatened mightily against Andrew Kittridge. Quickly the Sox hit around Kittridge, loaded the bases, and nearly broke the game open when Dustin Pedroia pulled a laser shot. Where he pulled it, was where the wild Hechavarria roam. Hech made a tremendous leap, and snagged the ball out of the sky to (temporarily) save the game.

Eventually the Red Sox would break through on the 10th Rays reliever, Austin Pruitt, in the 14th. Three straight singles off of Pruitt broke the tie, and gave the Red Sox the go ahead run. Kiermaier would make a tremendous, unreal throw to nail Mitch Moreland at 3rd. This would prove to be a huge out, and kept the game at just a 1 run lead for Boston.

//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js

That’s a ridiculous throw, and his arm is just stupid good.

Kevin Kiermaier Is Golden

Up until Colome’s mess of a 9th, and the agony of boring, wheel spinning extra innings, this game held some fun moments for the Rays. However, none were quite as exciting as this amazing run saving catch from Kevin Kiermaier.

//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js

Also, go ahead at @ Dan. He’s right.

That’s a full sprint, leap, and catch with the game in the balance in the 9th inning. Kevin Kiermaier is amazing, and it’s a shame we only have one of him.

Kiermaier wasn’t done with game saving plays though. In the bottom of the 14th, down by 1, KK leading off for the 6th (!) time, Kiermaier was apparently not ready to be done playing baseball. Quick wrists turned around the pitch Brandon Workman Cutter into a laser shot, line drive HR to tie the game at 6.

//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js

Please, Let this Game End!

In games this long, things start to get a bit goofy for those watching. Jessica Soto had a plea for help:

//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js

CespedesFamilyBBQ had real great question:

//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js

In the 15th, Pruitt worked himself into another doozy of a jam, but got Pedroia to line out into a tailor made double play ball which Brad Miller (now subbed in at 2B) could not snare, booted it, and got the big glaring Error allowing the Sox to take the lead right back.

The game quickly got away from there, as Chase Whitley came on and gave up a bloop RBI in front of KK, and a sharp single that Kiermaier made a heck of an attempt to throw out Pedroia at home (he can’t do literally everything, I guess).

After that Whitley continued to give up hits, hit a guy, the Rays made another error, and the Red Sox scored like 100 runs (give or take a few). Eventually I do believe Whitley recorded some outs too, and the game ended. Maybe. Hard to say.

This game is a great capsule for the whole year. Low expectations at the start, encouraging and inspiring effort to give some real hope for what could happen, and then a crushing collapse snatching defeat from the jaws of victory. And just when you give up and accept your lot, that glimmer of hope starts shining through again. Only to be snuffed out cruelly, quickly, and embarrassingly.


Article first appeared on www.draysbay.com