Game #108 Lineups and Outlook
Entertaining Rays baseball is back in town after a sweet three-run homer from TPR-favorite Brad Miller put the Rays ahead for good. Alex Colome turned it into a nail-biter due to a first pitch fastball taken back up the guts, a nice piece of hitting by Lorenzo Cain, and a wild pitch to move them both up. He reined it in by unleashing some vicious sliders, which look like basically an unhittable pitch for a righty, to nail it down. The excitement gets even better, because today is Snell Day:
Blake Snell is quickly becoming a must-see starter. Everyone raves about the stuff, and they’re right to, but the thing I like best is that he’s willing to mix his pitches so much. He’s showing advanced sequencing techniques that you usually see from guys with lesser stuff. Batters are left utterly off balance taking some of the weakest swings you’ve seen. It is supremely encouraging to see a guy do this, because eventually everyone loses something on their fastball. He may be one of the few that is readily equipped for that transition. In the meantime it just makes him completely unfair as he carves up batters left and right.
He’ll need to be careful tonight with the red-hot Brian Dozier, and also, the talented slugger Miguel Sano. Both can take any pitcher in the game out of the yard, but do incredible damage to lefties, especially. Don’t be afraid to put those guys on if behind in the count, but then you absolutely better get the next guy. On the other side, Santana has been known to flummox the Rays at times, but with several of the Rays left-handed hitters healthy and mashing I think they should be ok to do some damage. The system likes the Rays today, but not nearly as much as the gamblers making it a poor value to take them. Minnesota doesn’t look much better so I’d stay away here.
One thing that is interesting is that Nick Franklin between the lefties Miller and Dickerson essentially gets three lefties in a row, while maintaining their R-L-R-L order that they feel helps them in later innings. I don’t know if Franklin will do much with lefties, but his ability to switch-hit should make for a nice weapon in the middle of the lineup. I have liked what I’ve seen out of him against righties so far and think that he can be an above-average hitter against them. This is his moment under the spotlight as the team is surely trying to figure out what to do with him. I wish him the best in carving out a role here much like Forsythe and Zobrist before him.
The Twins go with the four-man bench while the Rays sport the extra arm. Jennings still seems banged up after yet another lower body injury as he’s still getting over a foul off the tibia. Their pen isn’t very good, but Kintzler seems to be having a nice year. Boshers and Milone are the lefties with the latter being more of a longman type and the former being a specialist. Ryan Garton is slowly growing on me as someone that could be a part of this thing long term. The pen has looked better of late, but of course everything is on a string. It helps when the starters are pitching deeper so that they can at least catch their breath from time to time. Get ready for the Rays to do the same thing they did down the stretch last year instead of doing the sensible thing and averting wins. Buckle up.