Wednesday, August 15, 2018
Tampa Bay Rays

Rays win with parade of pitchers, just enough hitting

ST. PETERSBURG — For openers, Ryne Stanek pitched extremely well for the Rays Tuesday, retiring the first six Blue Jays. As the relieving starter, Austin Pruitt did all right, getting eight more outs.

By night's end, the Rays used six pitchers total from a bullpen that's default status update should be "taxed.'' That collaboration, along with a two-run homer by Wilson Ramos, other clutch hitting and a handful of pretty good plays in the field added up to a 4-1 win over the Blue Jays.

"Obviously, I think the story of the game is the bullpen,'' manager Kevin Cash said, "and the way they came in and pieced it together.''

With Chris Archer's return to action delayed indefinitely, it's going to be like this for the Rays, at least three days out of five, at a time when their schedule gets downright brutal.

After today's matinee against the Blue Jays, the Rays head into what looks to be the most rigorous, gut-wrenching, pitcher-challenging stretch they'll have, 16 straight games against the contending Yankees, Astros and Nationals, starting with a trip to New York and Houston.

And they'll be doing it with exactly two — yes, if you haven't been following along, two — traditional starters in their rotation.

Eovaldi and Snell, and what the, um, …

Or …

Eovaldi and Snell, and who's next we can't tell?

Or …

Snell and Eovaldi, and … and … and … and what rhymes with Eovaldi?

"It definitely will be challenging going into those two ballparks,'' Cash said, diplomatically.

For the other three games that Blake Snell and Nathan Eovaldi don't start, at least when there is no day off as a reprieve, they're planning to stick with using game openers, with Stanek and his high-octane fastball now their top choice.

"Ideally with our starters — and I know it's different now, we were anticipating Arch to be back a little sooner — we'd like to be able to label him where he's doing it … twice in five games.''

When Archer first went on the DL last week with an abdominal strain, the Rays thought he'd miss only a start or two, best case pitching Sunday in New York.

But given the soreness he felt in the days after throwing 20 pitches off the mound Saturday, they don't really know when.

"It just tells us that I need to rest a little bit longer,'' he said.

If Archer feels good after a couple days off and gets through a mound session with no after-effects, he could be back in the next week or so. But if the soreness lingers for much past that, he's going to be set back weeks, as he'll need to build back up with rehab starts in the minors, which could delay him until near or even after the mid-July All-Star break.

That not only would impact the Rays starting plans in the short term, but potentially — wink, wink — their strategy, in a season committed to youth, leading up to the July 31 nonwaiver trade deadline, when Archer, at the least, will be a prime subject of conversation and speculation.

For the same reason but potentially different motives, both sides want to be cautious in making sure when he returns he is in top form.

Said Archer: "If I'm on the DL, I want to come back 100 percent because I'm not doing anybody any favors by coming back any less than that. …''

Said Cash: "We've got to allow him the time that when he gets back off a mound again that he does feel good because the last thing you want him to do is try to pitch through something and alter his mechanics, alter his delivery to where that affects something more serious like his arm or something.''

Tuesday night, anyway, they had reason to exhale, and smile.

The win over the Jays was their second straight and third in four games, improving to 31-35.

The pitching, as a group effort, was good enough, as they went from Stanek to Pruitt (who got the win) to Jonny Venters to Chaz Roe to Jose Alvarado to Sergio Romo (who got the save).

Doing so can take some unusual, and risky, moves. Such as Cash deciding to go aggressive early, pulling Pruitt to start playing matchups with a 2-1 lead in the fifth.

"There's a lot of worry,'' he said. "(Pitching coach Kyle Snyder) and I were talking in the dugout that we needed a lot of things to go in our favor to piece it together like we envisioned.''

They got a two-run homer from Ramos and clutch singles by pinch-hitter Joey Wendle and Mallex Smith.

And they got some dazzling defense from rookies Willy Adames and Jake Bauers.

On some nights, it can work out. But it's never going to be easy.

Marc Topkin can be reached at [email protected] Follow @TBTimes_Rays

Comments
Marc Topkin’s takeaways from the Rays’ 4-1 loss to the Yankees

Marc Topkin’s takeaways from the Rays’ 4-1 loss to the Yankees

1. Jalen Beeks doesn't have much margin for error. As billed, Beeks doesn't have overpowering stuff. Thus, he relies on mixing his pitches and sequencing them to his advantage, but he also has to throw them where he aims them.2. RHP Hunter Wood is in...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Rays morning after: Jake Faria looks for Blake Snell-like turnaround

Rays morning after: Jake Faria looks for Blake Snell-like turnaround

RHP Jake Faria is a team player, but he welcomes the chance to make a traditional start Wednesday night for the Rays against the Yankees rather than come out of the bullpen."I have more time as a starter to get ready for the day, I can take things a ...
Updated: 3 hours ago
Archer trade gets even better as Rays add promising young pitcher

Archer trade gets even better as Rays add promising young pitcher

NEW YORK — The return the Rays got from the Pirates for Chris Archer already looked good.Right-hander Tyler Glasnow has been increasingly impressive in three starts using his high-octane fastball and cruel breaking balls, and outfielder Austin ...
Updated: 6 hours ago
Rays journal: Solid not good enough in loss to Yankees

Rays journal: Solid not good enough in loss to Yankees

NEW YORK — The Rays got another solid outing from LHP Jalen Beeks on Tuesday, though the few mistakes he did make were costly. Add their inability to muster much of anything offensively against J.A. Happ and two relievers, and the result was ye...
Published: 08/14/18
For starters: Rays at Yankees, opening a challenging week

For starters: Rays at Yankees, opening a challenging week

The Rays are in New York tonight to open – assuming the rain clears out – a challenging week of playing the AL East heavyweight Yankees and Red Sox.RHP Hunter Wood is slated to be on the mound to open the game for the Rays. LHP J.A. Happ ...
Published: 08/14/18
Rays get RHP Shane Baz as player to be named from Pirates in Chris Archer deal

Rays get RHP Shane Baz as player to be named from Pirates in Chris Archer deal

RHP Shane Baz, the No. 12 pick in the 2017 draft, will join the Rays from the Pirates as the player to be named in the Chris Archer trade.That makes the Rays' complete haul in the deal RHP Tyler Glasnow, OF Austin Meadows and Baz.Baz, 19, has been pi...
Published: 08/14/18
What’s in the way of the Rays’ rebuild

What’s in the way of the Rays’ rebuild

So here's the good news.The Rays are 60-58 after taking two out of three in Toronto. Their so-called "tanking'' plan isn't really a total tank job after all. Call it a rebuilding project, and this rebuilding project looks way ahead of schedule. Not o...
Published: 08/13/18
Updated: 08/14/18
Another strong Tyler Glasnow start, but Rays fall to Blue Jays

Another strong Tyler Glasnow start, but Rays fall to Blue Jays

By KEEGAN MATHESONTimes CorrespondentTORONTO — The Rays might just be onto something with Tyler Glasnow.In his third start since coming over from Pittsburgh in the Chris Archer trade, the 6-foot-8 right-hander pitched five solid innings Sunday ...
Published: 08/12/18
Rays journal: Despite cooling off, Jake Bauers keeps impressing

Rays journal: Despite cooling off, Jake Bauers keeps impressing

By KEEGAN MATHESONTimes CorrespondentTORONTO — In a room full of rookies, Rays 1B Jake Bauers still stands out as one of the kids.The 22-year-old was back in the lineup and batting third in Sunday's series finale in Toronto, and he has the pote...
Published: 08/12/18
Rays journal: Kevin Cash appreciates versatility in lineup

Rays journal: Kevin Cash appreciates versatility in lineup

BY KEEGAN MATHESONTimes CorrespondentTORONTO — On a Rays roster stacked with rookie talent and a steady stream of new faces, players like Joey Wendle and Daniel Robertson have made manager Kevin Cash's life a bit easier.Their ability to play mu...
Published: 08/11/18