Tampa Bay Rays Vs. Toronto Blue Jays: Davis Pitches Well, But Not Well Enough

Wade Davis went 7.2 innings, but could not hold the tie as the Rays lose late to the Blue Jays.

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Toronto Blue Jays Beat The Rays In Pitcher's Duel, 3-2

The Rays (25-19) could not muster enough base runners tonight, losing to the Toronto Blue Jays (22-21). Wade Davis (4-4) went 7.2 innings, allowing 3 runs. Davis looked in control through most of the game, but in the 7th inning hit rough waters. Aaron Hill flied out to start the inning, then Davis issued his first walk of the night (to Juan Rivera) and then hung a slow and meaty slider with which J.P. Arencibia played NASA, launching into center field sky.

Going into the game, it appeared Davis would be looking to cull a few more strikeouts, but unfortunately only mustered three. The fear was his decent walk rate, combined with his bad K-rate and good home run luck, would combine for some non-solo homers -- and that's precisely what cost the Rays the win tonight.

Opposing Davis, Ricky Romero (4-4) lived up to his billing, pitching 7 complete innings and striking out 6 Rays hitters. He allowed only one run on a B.J. Upton homer, but otherwise pitched masterfully.

Notes from the game:

  • Both B.J. Upton and Kelly Shoppach homered -- Upton pulling one to left, Shoppach flipping one to right. Upton now has 7 homers on the season. Extrapolated over 600 plate appearances, that would total exactly 25 home runs.
  • Dan Johnson went hitless in his 3 plate appearances and was then pulled in the 7th inning for Casey Kotchman (following Romero's exit). The Rays appear to be giving Johnson a nearly Joe Dillon-esque treatment at this point, suggesting he my face the ax when J.P. Howell shuffles the roster around tomorrow.
  • Juan Cruz came in with runners on 2nd and 3rd in the bottom of the eighth, making a clutch out and heads up defensive play on a funky bouncer. The 2011 Rays bullpen continues to impress this year, once again proving you don't need to bank to close.
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Rays Vs. Jays Game Two Lineups

The Rays will trot out a hybrid version of their anti-lefty-pitcher lineup today. The lineup per MLB.com:

Zobrist, B, RF
Damon, J, DH
Longoria, E, 3B
Joyce, M, LF
Upton, B, CF
Johnson, D, 1B
Rodriguez, S, 2B
Brignac, R, SS
Shoppach, K, C

The Rays typical anti-LHP lineup -- or at least the version the Rays started the year with -- did not originally feature Matt Joyce. However, Joyce, who hit his seventh homer yesterday, has staked a claim on extra playing time with his loud bat. He faces a legitimate test today, though, facing elite lefty Ricky Romero.

Some more wrinkles and notes concerning the lineup:

  • Reid Brignac, who sat two straight games in favor of Elliot Johnson, gets the start tonight. Reid, a left, may see less playing time against LHPs in the future, as the Rays use the switch-hitting Johnson to take some of the pressure off the struggling Brignac.
  • Ben Zobrist will be leading off tonight, playing right field. Zobrist has made some excellent defensive plays this year as well as punish some fastballs. Sam Fuld, who's been on a long cold streak, gets the night off and Zobrist will his best to save his homers for when players are on base.
  • Dan Johnson gets another start, as he has taken the lefty-only side of the first base platoon. However, Casey Kotchman is struggling mightily, so a few good games from Johnson could help him snatch more playing time.
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Tampa Bay Rays Vs. Toronto Blue Jays: Wade Davis Goes For Game Two

The Tampa Bay Rays (25-18) continue their road trip today, sending right-hand Wade Davis to the mound, looking to improve upon his last start. Davis (4-3, 3.47 ERA, 4.50 FIP) only lasted 5.1 innings last Saturday against the Orioles, while getting tagged for 4 runs. Advanced statistics suggest Davis's new approach -- throwing softer to exchange strikeouts for control -- has him playing a dangerous game, surviving thus far on blind luck.

Hopefully, Davis will find a few more strikeouts tonight because he appears to have been fortunate on the deep ball, allowing only 5% of fly balls to go for homers, whereas most pitchers stay around 10%. For the Rays third starter to be successful, he needs to make sure the bases are clear when the home runs come back.

Opposing the Rays will be Toronto Blue (21-21) Jays lefty Ricky Romero. Somewhat playing the role of the inverse Davis, Romero (3-4, 3.35 ERA, 3.56 FIP) has allowed around 13% of fly balls to go back, back, back. Despite that, he has manage a solid ERA and kept his team in games. The Rays offense faces a huge challenge tonight, facing on the league's better left handers.

Game time: 7:05 p.m. ET at Rogers Centre (Tickets)
Television: Sun Sports HD
Radio: WDAE 620, WGES 680

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