Reviewing the Series: #20 Arizona Diamondbacks
The Rays rolled into Phoenix needing to take the series to guarantee a .500 or better ten-game roadtrip. No easy task going to the national league with all of it’s antiquated rules to take on a pretty good team in a park that inflates offense at an incredible record. Yet, the Rays did exactly that. They took the first and the final game of the three-game set to claw back to a mere four games under .500 on the year. The lone loss came against a guy with a significant Hall of Fame case when it looked like the team was punting the day in order to be better the next and following. That can’t happen too often, but the gambit paid off as the team was able to win the final game to take the series.
Based on the matchups the Diamondbacks were a strong favorite in all three games, but the Rays hit enough at the right times for that to matter little. The first two games were relative blowouts before the finale that was a bit tighter. The pitching in each game was a little worse than average, but the offensive explosion in the bookend games helped carry the series for the Rays.
Whether due to timing or some media malfeasance an unlikely hero emerged this series as the much maligned Desmond Jennings carried this team on his broad shoulders. He put up an incredible 3.7 runs above average for the series and deserves some positive attention from those that have no problem pointing out the negative. He wasn’t the only rider to re-mount the horse as Corey Dickerson pulled himself up off of the mat to have a great series showcasing the power to all fields approach that drew Silverman’s gaze in the first place.
The other side of the coin shows Logan Morrison and Brad Miller reverting to early season roles as bottom feeders on this particular table. Taylor Motter also showed that he might be fine in a reserve role, but he becomes a less ideal option as his exposure increases. Lastly, Steven Souza Jr. continued to show off his streaky nature. He is back to showing passivity on outer half pitches, which is a bellwether for his performance. It is incredibly difficult to walk the line when it comes to discipline on these pitches, but he needs to get his inner baby bear on, because when he’s too aggressive or too passive on these pitches he shows almost no ability to contribute.
Everyday Erasmo continued to put out fires in the middle innings and was the best pitcher in this series. Only Xavier Cedeno joined him on the positive side of the run prevention ledger. What you’ll notice is that while many of the pitchers were below average, they mostly managed to avoid the blowups that can decimate a bullpen. Jake Odorizzi was basically a league average pitcher and Chris Archer wasn’t terrible or anything.
Even Matt Moore, who clocked in as the worst pitcher, went deep enough to give the stud relievers a day off. Additionally, Moore got beat up on a three run homer to left field that many of our outfielders probably haul in for the final out of the inning. This turned a good start into a sour one, but that’s the game. While the pitching wasn’t great, you have to account for the opponents and the playground. Doing this you see that most of these guys were only slightly worse than their expectations.
No shame in letting a world class hitter like Paul Goldschmidt beating you. He came in with the best expectations for the series and then lived up to them. Rickie Weeks and their pitchers were thought to be lesser weapons, but this group also provided serious offensive production. It wasn’t all sad!, though, as the Rays did well to keep top of the order batters Segura and Bourn from doing anything resembling a threat. With the base-stealing prevention issues this team has shown that may have been one of the subtly huge turning points in a series as tight as this one.
The Rays beat the ever-living piss out of Archie Bradley and Robbie Ray, especially on subsequent viewings after rough first times through the order. No surprise that Greinke, one of the best pitchers of the last decade, owned the Rays. He was very good in going the complete game without even allowing a single Ray to touch second base. If the team is going to lose at least it was in such convincing fashion that we got to enjoy the merits of the truly elite.
Enjoy the draft on this off-day as there are precious few remaining. Every game grows in importance as the standings tighten up, and those that have already written the Rays off may have some comeuppance as the team will welcome linchpin Logan Forsythe back into the fold soon. The team has done well to put lipstick over that eleven losses in thirteen games stretch, but there is still a ton of work to do.