Last night’s game between the Tampa Bay Rays and Toronto Blue Jays was surprisingly dull up until the ninth inning. The Jays had tacked one a run or two early in the game against a shaky Wade Davis, and it looked like the Rays were going to go quietly against closer Jon Rauch. But then Rauch let up a single to Ben Zobrist and grooved a fastball to B.J. Upton….and just like that, the Rays had themselves a 3-2 win over the Blue Jays.
This game was Evan Longoria’s first back from the disabled list, and true to his word, Evan Longoria looked a little rusty at the plate today, going 1-4 with two strikeouts, but his defense was as phenomenal as always. Who else in the league makes this play? It’s easy to forget how good he is when he’s not around, but Rays fans are spoiled getting to watch him all the time.
Also, while it will likely take Longo a couple days to get his timing down, he didn’t look that bad at the plate tonight to me. His first handful of at bats were quick, as the Rays seemed to be swinging early in the count against Jo-Jo Reyes, but he worked two long at bats late in the game and ripped one hard hit foul ball deep down the left field line.
While Longoria looked okay in his return, I’m still not impressed with the new Wade Davis. Despite getting into lots of trouble in the first few innings (and working himself out of it, for the most part), Davis managed to hang around through six innings. He allowed nine baserunners over those six innings, though, and eight of them came within the first four innings. He was good at attacking batters and getting ahead in counts for most of the game, but late in the game he started to falter and have more trouble with his command.
Including last night’s game, Davis has now thrown to 164 batters this season and only struck out 17 of them (in other words, 3.9 K/9). It’s still early in the season and a lot can change, but strikeout rates normally stabilize at 150 batters faced, so there’s something more than just that going on here.
Also, Brandon Gomes made his major league debut last night, and he was about as efficient and effective as you could ask. Gomes entered the game in the 7th inning after Wade Davis left, and he plowed through his first inning in only 7 pitches. While he didn’t strike out anyone – and did start off the majority of the at bats with a ball – Gomes seemed to have good stuff out there. He primarily used his fastball, throwing it 62% of the time and topping out at 92 MPH, but he also threw a couple 78 MPH sliders (curveballs?). All in all, not a bad first major league outing.
After B.J. Upton hit his walkoff homerun to win the game in the bottom of the ninth, Evan Longoria pied him with a chocolate pie. The pictures are something else – talk about a goopy mess. As weird as the pie was, though, I bet BJ enjoyed being the hero last night.
The Rays and Blue Jays face again tomorrow, as Brandon Morrow faces Jeff Niemann at 6:40 PM.