Saturday, May 26, 2018
Tampa Bay Rays

Opinion: Rangers must show resiliency in Game 2

ARLINGTON, Texas — The first playoff game was decided in a hurry, long before the shadows crawled across the ballpark, as the left-handed ace got roughed up for six earned runs while the Rangers bats fell silent.

And the Rangers would go all the way to Game 7 of the World Series in 2011 after that 9-0 loss to the Rays in Game 1 of the ALDS. If you're a big believer in history repeating itself, then what transpired Thursday at Globe Life Park wasn't so bad. In fact, it was eerily familiar.

On the other hand ...

Cole Hamels was supposed to be better than this, way better than what we saw in a 10-1 loss to Toronto. In his last five playoff starts — three with Philadelphia going back to 2010 plus two against these same Blue Jays in 2015 as a Ranger — he had five quality starts and most of them were beyond quality. They were brilliant. That's what this team was counting on his delivering in Game 1. That's why manager Jeff Banister had Yu Darvish and Hamels exchange places in the rotation four weeks ago.

Instead, the Rangers got more of what they saw from him in a puzzling September in which Hamels earned run average fell off the wagon. A man who was in contention for the Cy Young Award, Hamels' 5.86 ERA in five September starts was a sign of trouble that continued right into the playoffs Thursday afternoon.

He threw 42 pitches in a five-run third inning, surrendering cheap hits before Troy Tulowitzki's three-run double put the game and command of this series in Toronto's grasp.

"Ten runs isn't pretty," Hamels said. "Thank God this isn't a wild-card game."

How does someone so gifted in postseasons past come up this short on the biggest stage?

"We're all human," he said. "It's the game of baseball. When the ball leaves my hand and the hitter decides what to do, it's out of my jurisdiction."

Thursday's game wasn't do-or-die, but I don't think it can be labeled an ordinary defeat, either. First of all, a Game 1 loss is obviously a much more serious thing in a best-of-five series than in the best-of-sevens that follow. Beyond that, as good as this Rangers team is, it relies heavily on what it considers its two aces.

The Rangers could march home with their first World Series trophy by winning all of Darvish's and Hamels' playoff starts. We know this series shifts into the Blue Jays' favor when the series moves north Sunday. American League ERA leader Aaron Sanchez and Marcus Stroman, who gave a strong performance in Tuesday's wild-card triumph over Baltimore, get the edge — at least on paper — over Colby Lewis and Martin Perez.

Now, by throwing just 82 pitches in fewer than four innings Thursday, Hamels could return for Game 4. The prospect of being able to recall an ace on short rest is diminished for the obvious reason. Toronto won't exactly lack confidence after producing six hits in 31/3 innings against Hamels in Game 1. And Thursday's game marked the fifth time in seven starts he has allowed at least six runs.

Banister said the struggles Hamels endured in the season's final month were not apparent in this abbreviated playoff start.

"To say that they're comparable, I'm not sure I'm going to go that far," Banister said. "The challenge for me is the first two innings he was in control. And then it did seem to get away from him. But he was still one pitch away from being out of that inning."

Tortured Rangers fans know all about "one pitch away" moments and their minuscule value. Their team is in deep trouble against a lineup that may be emerging from its own September slumber.

Josh Donaldson went 4 for 4 and, yes, Jose Bautista was hardly rattled by the boos that washed down from the crowd of 47,434. He produced his second playoff home run, having opened Tuesday's wild-card scoring with one, and drove in four runs.

Bautista's three-run homer late in the game was the only knockout punch this crowd got to witness.

The other one was drawn out over four innings as Hamels unraveled and the Blue Jays took charge of a series that will teach us much about the resiliency of these Rangers.

Comments
Rays jump on Orioles early, coast to 5-1 win

Rays jump on Orioles early, coast to 5-1 win

THE BASEBALL LABORATORY IN ST. PETERSBURG — Up is down. Down is up. Hello is goodbye. Goodbye is hello. A reliever is a starter. And a starter is a reliever.These are your 2018 Tampa Bay Rays.You never know what's going to happen. And just when...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Thomas Bassinger’s takeaways from Saturday’s Rays-Orioles game

Thomas Bassinger’s takeaways from Saturday’s Rays-Orioles game

Interesting decision by the Rays to start RH reliever Ryne Stanek on Saturday. The Orioles' Nos. 1 through 5 hitters were righties, and Stanek came in allowing a 1.228 OPS against righties and a .592 OPS against lefties. It ended up working.How ...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Rays journal: After Alex Colome trade, Rays’ closer situation is fluid, Kevin Cash says

Rays journal: After Alex Colome trade, Rays’ closer situation is fluid, Kevin Cash says

ST. PETERSBURG — The Rays have had to get creative in how they start games. Now, after Friday's trade of closer Alex Colome, they might have to get creative in how they finish them.How they handle the ninth inning going forward will be a fluid ...
Updated: 3 hours ago
Rays Tales: What the trade of Alex Colome and Denard Span leads to next

Rays Tales: What the trade of Alex Colome and Denard Span leads to next

The reality of Friday's surprising trade of Alex Colome and Denard Span to Seattle is, of course, between the extremes.One side is screaming this is the latest proof the Rays are driven more to pocket money than winning games (and, for the loudest, o...
Updated: 5 hours ago

For starters: Rays vs. Orioles; Ryne Stanek makes first start, Carlos Gomez returns

ST. PETERSBURG — The Rays' bullpenning experiment continues, with right-hander Ryne Stanek to open this afternoon's game against the Orioles at Tropicana Field. First pitch is scheduled for 4:10.It is the first career start for Stanek, who has ...
Updated: 8 hours ago
Rays trade closer Alex Colome, outfielder Denard Span to Mariners

Rays trade closer Alex Colome, outfielder Denard Span to Mariners

ST. PETERSBURG – In January, sure.In July, absolutely.But, now?And, once again, for someone who they hope helps in the future.The Rays made a shocking trade at a surprising time of year Friday, dealing All-Star closer Alex Colome and Tampa...
Published: 05/25/18
Updated: 05/26/18
Rays journal: Rays shut out by Orioles in opener

Rays journal: Rays shut out by Orioles in opener

By Joey JohnstonTimes CorrespondentST. PETERSBURG — Rays LHP Ryan Yarbrough deserved better Friday. But the offense didn't offer much, allowing the Orioles to escape with a 2-0 victory before an announced crowd of 11,354 at Tropicana Field."It ...
Published: 05/25/18
Rays trade Alex Colome and Denard Span to Mariners for prospects

Rays trade Alex Colome and Denard Span to Mariners for prospects

The Rays made a major trade Friday afternoon, sending All-Star closer Alex Colome and OF Denard Span to the Mariners.The return is two minor-leaguers, RHP Andrew Moore and RHP Tommy Romero. The Rays also sent cash to the Mariners.Span, a Tampa produc...
Published: 05/25/18
For starters: Sergio Romo on mound tonight as Rays open series against Orioles

For starters: Sergio Romo on mound tonight as Rays open series against Orioles

By JOEY JOHNSTONTimes CorrespondentST. PETERSBURG — For openers, the Rays will use RHP Sergio Romo, the 35-year-old career reliever, as tonight's starter against the Baltimore Orioles at Tropicana Field.Romo is making his third career "sta...
Published: 05/25/18
Alex Cobb excited about return “home” to Trop even in Orioles orange

Alex Cobb excited about return “home” to Trop even in Orioles orange

RHP Alex Cobb has already pitched twice against his former Rays mates in Baltimore and said it didn't feel that weird, especially since there were so many new faces in the lineup.But coming back to the Trop, where he made his big-league debut and spe...
Published: 05/25/18