Aaron Hicks “Kiermaier’s” a Ramos Grand Slam, and everything gets worse from there.

This game was lost with a Sac-Fly in the 1st.

The Rays offense has been an absolute mess in the 2nd half. Signs of life here and there, quickly erased by big slumps from key contributors. With just about a week left in the 2017 Rays season, all that’s left to play for is finding some positives for 2018.

The offense in the first inning, in Yankee stadium, against Lefty Jordan Montgomery, showed those signs of life and reasons to be positive. Quickly, the Rays were putting the pressure on the young Montgomery.

Kevin Kiermaier and Steven Souza Jr knocked back to back singles, and Evan Longoria worked a walk to load the bases. After a LoMo strike out, the Buffalo rumbled to the plate. Wilson Ramos has not had the best year back from injury so far, but he’s shown signs of the former All-Star Catcher that he is. Wilson Ramos took Jordan Montgomery deep to Center Field, for what should have been a massive Grand Slam.

Unfortunately, Aaron Hicks decided to continue his improbable year, and Kiermaier’d the Buffalo.

The Rays got a run in on this catch, but oh boy did this change the entire outlook of that inning. The Yankees dugout came alive, the crowd went nuts, and the Rays leave what was a very strong start to an inning, with just a single run and a whole lot of wasted promise.

Uh oh, Snellzilla

Blake Snell has been remarkable in the 2nd half for the Rays. Snell’s emergence and return to the elite prospect form is definitely something to build on for next year. Unfortunately, he might have ended his season on a down note that sees him back to where he began.

Snell was wild. Nobody knew where the ball was going. Most often, it was going for a ball. He escaped damage in the 1st inning after a couple of bad walks, but the signs for a early season Snell start were all there:

  • Falling behind in the count
  • Poor control
  • Missing command in the strike zone

In the 2nd, all of it came unglued. Solo HR for Starlin Castro to tie the game, and then three straight hits in a row put Snell into the fire quickly. Aaron “Papa Slam Stealer” Hicks stepped to the plate, and “drew” a 5 pitch walk with not a single pitch thrown all that close to the strike zone.

Up next: Aaron Judge. Good news is that Blake Snell did not give up a HR to Judge. Bad news is, he didn’t throw a strike at all, walking in another run.

That would be the end of the night for Snell. Blake might get one more start before the end of the season. I truly hope he does. It would be a shame, with all the hard work that Snell has put in, and all that tremendous pitching he has done in the 2nd half to end this year on such a depressing down note.

The Rest of the Game

Rays bullpen kept the game somewhat competitive, but eventually the Yankees added on some more. Pitching aside, it’s still the offense that continues to be the issue and the reason the Rays are losing games. Snell’s collapse in this start did not help, but it certainly seemed like the air was let out of the Rays balloon with that Hicks catch.

I’ll be totally honest with you: aside from that last paragraph, I wrote this entire recap in the 3rd inning. It was my challenge to the baseball gods. It was my jinx. It was my dare to make me throw this out and rewrite the whole thing. A blurb about missed chances in the first, but then heroics by our bay area boys late.

But the baseball gods did not challenge my hubris. The Rays went quietly into that good night, and they did it before the sun had fully set.

With the loss, the Rays will officially not have a winning season for the 4th straight year. With this brutal second half, it certainly does feel like a losing season. But this one… this one hurts more than last year.

This team seemed so much better than their final result will be. This one felt close to something special. Close to something memorable.

As the age old baseball adage goes: there’s always next year.


Article first appeared on www.draysbay.com