Mission ’13, Game 35: Rays win 10-4

Melky’s May Meter

13 hits

Last year, Melky Cabrera set a Giants’ record with 51 hits in the month of May. Sure, we all know that the record is tainted but, tainted or not, he leapfrogged some pretty impressive company. He passed Ott, Mays, Chili, Stanky, Mize, McCovey, Frisch, Hornsby, Bancroft, Bonds the Older, Clark, Mitchell, Bonds the Younger, Kent, and, well, everyone else. Melky’s heating up again. I don’t expect 51 hits but I mentioned a few games ago that 35 would be nice, so we’re going to keep track.

Back to the game. Edwin Encarnacion launched a two-run HR to dead centre field against Mike Moore to give the Jays an early 2-0 lead. Ricky Romero, in his second MLB start of the season, had nothing. Recording only one out, he gave up three earned runs and was relieved by Edgar Gonzalez with the bases loaded. Gonzalez quickly set down the two batters he faced. The Rays capitalized on Ricky’s wildness to take a one-run lead.

A relatively quiet inning by the Jays in the second was followed by a minor uprising by the Rays. A hustle-double by ex-Jay Kelly Johnson was cashed in by a Ben Zobrist single, making the score 4-2 Rays.

The Jays continue to hit the ball hard against Matt Moore but, for the most part, they’re coming up empty. In the 1st Mark DeRosa hit a ball sharply to CF but was out and in the 3rd JP Arencibia slugged a ball foul, then just got under another pitch to fly out to Brandon Jennings. It would be a shame if they let Moore off the hook.

April 6-8, 2007. 30-12. 17. In order, those numbers refer to: (1) the last time the Jays won a series in Tampa; (2) the Rays’ record against TOR at the Trop since then; and (3) the number of consecutive series won by Tampa Bay against Toronto. Even though Evan Longoria homered to extend their lead to 6-2, the Jays are guaranteed NOT to lose this series. And, since time is on their side, they can still win this series. Heady stuff.

Melky doubled to lead off the visitor’s side of the 5th inning; Matt Moore is struggling. He hasn’t commanded the strike zone very well all night, especially with his curve ball. That high octane fastball will help him make a lot of outs, though. Jose Bautista was Moore’s first strikeout victim of the game which, in itself, is surprising. If they’re unable to mount a rally against Moore, perhaps they can get into the Rays’ ‘pen early for the third straight game. Walks to Encarnacion and Rajai (sandwiched around a fly out by JPA) have loaded the bases for DeRosa. DeRosa struck out, leaving the bases loaded. Through 5, the Jays are 0-7 with RISP and stranded 8 base runners through five innings.

As a result of a terrible call by the home plate umpire, Joe Maddon has been ejected again. It’s his eighth ejection of the season. You’ll recall that he was thrown out of game two for arguing that Sean Rodriguez was called out on a play at the plate. I don’t remember Maddon being this fiery or disagreeable. Perhaps the frustration of a 14-16 record and two straight tough losses is getting to him.

This should help Joe: Kelly Johnson homered in the bottom of the sixth to stretch the Rays’ lead to 8-2. John Gibbons seems more intent on managing the ‘pen and pitching situation than worrying about getting a “W”. I don’t blame Gibbons if this is his thinking, nor do I disagree with it. The Jays have guaranteed at least a series split, but they’ve also had pitching issues the last two nights. JA Happ was injured after 1.1 IP and Ricky Romero was lifted after 0.1 IP tonight: bullpen management is high on the list of priorities right now.

Esmil Rogers relieved Gonzalez and struck out Evan Longoria before giving up a long, run-scoring double to James Loney. James Loney is the quintessential Tampa signing. He struggled in LA, was involved in the franchise-altering trade between LA and BOS last August, then struggled in BOS after the deal. Now he’s tearing the cover off the ball for the Rays while playing solid defense. Yunel continued the hit parade with a sharp single into left to advance Loney to 3B with one out. A sac fly by Luke Scott has made it a four run inning, extending the lead to 10-2.

It’s interesting to speculate what this game would look like if the Jays mustered some hits with RISP. A hit batter and a walk to begin the seventh led to a sac fly and another base running blunder by Jose Bautista getting thrown out at 3B. Arencibia was safe on a fielder’s choice at 1B, then Rajai and DeRosa singled. Rajai rounded second assuming JPA would be sent home but Luis Rivera put up the stop sign with JPA 20 feet around third and Rajai nearly on the bag. Jose Lobaton inexplicably ran toward the pitcher’s mound and JPA took the opportunity to ‘race’ home, making it 10-4 Rays.

A quiet 8th inning for the Jays left them one more inning to complete a highly-improbable comeback in th 9th inning, assuming that Brett Cecil can pitch around the double he gave up to Evan Longoria. Longoria and Kelly Johnson have both had very good games offensively, with a single, double, and home run each.

Cecil pitched around the double with no further harm. A single by JP Arencibia was the lone base runner in the ninth and the Blue Jays 3-game win streak is over.

I appreciate how John Gibbons managed this game, particularly the ‘pen. Ricky Romero’s ineffectiveness put the Jays in a bind early, and Gibbons managed it well. How many times does a manager make a good impression when the other team scores double digits in runs?

Wes Kepstro

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