The trip in and out of Toronto is always a bit more taxing on a baseball team due to having to clear customs. Having a night game then travelling south from Toronto to Tampa to play the next night probably isn’t the ideal situation for any team. Compounding this travel nightmare with having to face hard throwing Matt Moore and a potent Rays bullpen and the 4-0 shutout is a bit more understandable.
In the early innings the Indians hitters plan seemed to be to remain patient and wait for Rays starter Matt Moore to make a mistake or put himself in harms way by issuing waks in the early innings. In the first inning with Michael Bourn on second Jason Kipnis got a mistake pitch by Moore and sent the ball to the deepest depths of Tropicana Field only to have it land softly in the glove of Rays center fielder Desmond Jennings.
The Indians seemed to have all of their planning, energy, and concentration zapped from them in the third inning. Mike Aviles led off theinning with a walk and moved to 3rd on a 1-out double by Michael Bourn. Asdrubal Cabrera then sent a grounder to third base but Aviles broke home only to be caught in a rundown and tagged out. Moore followed with a strikeout of Jason Kipnis to end the inning
Michael Brantley drew a walk in the fourth inning and represented the last Indians base runner on the evening as the Rays pitching staff retired the next 17 hitters in a row including 7 via the strike out.
Zach McAllister stayed true to his form and was effective the first time through the Rays lineup holding them scoreless on 1 for 9 hitting (Jose Lobaton double). The second time through the lineup the Rays scored 2 runs on 3 for 9 hitting and were aided by a wild pitch. The fourth inning began with a Sam Fuld single and he came around to score from first on a Ben Zobrist double for the Rays first run. McAllister’s uncorked a wild pitch which allowed Zobrist to advance to 3rd base and subsequently come in to score on a groundout by Yunel Escobar to give the Rays a 2-0 lead.
The third time through the lineup the Rays added 2 more runs (unearned) on 2 for 6 hitting. With 2-out and nobody on in the bottom of the fifth Desmond Jennings sent a hard grounder that Mike Aviles was unable to corral. Sam Fuld followed with a single and Jennings advanced to 3rd and both runners came in to score on a Ben Zobrist double.
Overall McAllister (0-1, 3.00 ERA) did not pitch poorly working 6 innings allowing 4R/2ER on 6 hits while striking out 3 and walking 0. Bryan Shaw came in and continued to impress delivering 2 solid innings of shutout baseball allowing 1-hit, striking out 3 and walking 0. The loss drops the Indians to 2-2 on the season.
For the Rays, Matt Moore (1-0, 0.00 ERA) worked out of early trouble and then found his groove. He went 6 shutout innings allowing on 2-hits (both to Michael Bourn) while striking out 8 and issuing only 2 walks. Jake McGee, Brandon Gomes, and Joel Peralta worked the final 3 shutout innings allowing no-hits while striking out 3 and walking 0. The win improves the Rays record to 2-2 on the season.
The Good: The Outfielders
Michael Brantley hustled to cut off a single down the left field line off the bat of Jose Lobaton then turned and threw a strike to second base to cut him down, Michael Bourn displayed a nice burst of speed in tracking down a line drive off the bat of James Loney, and Drew Stubbs showed off the strength of his arm throwing a strike to Carlos Santana on a possible sacrifice fly of the bat of Kelly Johnson.
The Bad & The Huh?: Did He Mean To? What Was He Thinking?
In the first inning Asdrubal Cabrera laid down a bunt to advance Michael Bourn to 2nd base? Was Asdrubal bunting for a hit (from my perspective Longoria was playing back) or was he trying to sacrifice bunt? If so….why?
In the 3rd inning with men on 1st and 3rd and 1-out Mike Aviles broke for home on a groundball to 3b Evan Longoria. Was the contact play on? If so….why?