Here’s the short list of highlights for the Rays from Monday night’s game in Boston:
Randy Arozarena made a spectacular running and leaping catch in right-centerfield that you will see on highlight clips for a while, and another pretty good one in the eighth.
And here’s a long, though not necessarily complete, list of what went wrong in the 11-2 loss to the Red Sox:
Starter Michael Wacha admittedly was not too good and just-called-up reliever Chris Mazza obviously was quite bad, as the Rays in total allowed 16 hits and three walks in their second straight poor pitching performance.
The bats were concerningly quiet, rapping only seven hits total (four over the first seven innings) and getting only one in 10 chances with runners in scoring position.
Though Arozarena had his moments, the defense overall was not sharp. That includes a messy fifth-inning sequence, in which Mike Zunino had an errant throw, that gave Xander Bogaerts a two-run Little League homer.
And of potentially the greatest significance, centerfielder Kevin Kiermaier left the game due to tightness in his left quad, a recurrence of a spring issue that manager Kevin Cash said is “concerning,” with a further update expected Tuesday. All that after reliever Chaz Roe was placed on the injured list with a shoulder strain that may sideline him into July.
The most troubling part of the loss, the Rays’ first at Fenway Park after eight straight wins, had to be the amount of runs allowed, especially to a Red Sox team that had scored just five total in being swept by the Orioles in their season-opening three-game series.
Wacha gave up five (four earned) over his five innings. Cash praised him for his strike throwing (65 of 90 pitches) and aggressiveness, though acknowledged he got hit around.
Wacha, in his first Rays outing, said it wasn’t good enough. “Just too many balls over the heart of the plate there and too many hard-hit balls,” he said. “I’ve got to be better than that.”
Mazza, facing his former team after replacing Roe, started with six straight balls and allowed six runs on seven hits over 2 2/3 innings. Cash appreciated him saving them from having to use more of the pen.
In back-to-back outings, the Rays have allowed a quite uncharacteristic 23 runs and 30 hits. “The last two games have not shown our best at preventing runs,” Cash said.
Monday, they had some chances early, with two on in the first and others in the second, fourth and fifth innings against starter Nick Pivetta, and nothing to show for it.
The Rays didn’t get a hit with a runner in scoring position until the eighth when Brandon Lowe singled after hits by Yoshi Tsutsugo (his first of the season) and Arozarena. And they didn’t get their runs until Darwinzon Hernandez came on with the bases loaded and walked Manuel Margot and Yandy Diaz.
“We’ve got to find a way to capitalize in those spots early on,” Cash said, “and maybe it’s a different beginning to the ballgame.”
Kiermiaier showed his discomfort running out a double-play grounder in the second, then in the field and left shortly after.
On the plus side, Arozarena, who shifted from leftfield to right after Kiermaier exited, raced back and toward center before leaping for ex-Ray Hunter Renfroe’s fourth-inning drive in the gap with two on for the stunning play.
“He came out of nowhere,” Cash said.
Arozarena, who said he’d made a similar play in the minors, made it sound like no big deal. “I was able to lay out and just make a nice play,” he said via team interpreter Manny Navarro.
And that was about it for the Rays.
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