Thoughts From Tampa Bay
The pitching was a bit of a roller coaster during this series. Garza didn’t fare well against his former club (4.1 IP with six runs on eight hits), and Yu Darvish had troubles aplenty in the first 2 innings of his start, but did manage to hold the Rays to two run on five hits and six walks, all over 5 IP. Alexi Ogando, making his first start since August 18 against Milwaukee, went 5 solid innings, giving up one run on two hits, with four strikeouts. With 10 games left to play in the regular season, Ogando may be healthy enough (finally) to man the fifth starter spot for two more games. Darvish should be fine, but the big hope is Garza can survive against a Kansas City squad that is still trying to fight for post-season play. Now, about the bullpen…
In games 1, 2, and 4, the bullpen was virtually unstoppable, which was truly needed in game 4 after Darvish’s rough beginning. Game 3 was a sore spot, and a hard one to forget, due to Joe Nathan blowing a save and Joe Ortiz being ineffective at getting his fastball down in the zone in the 12th inning. The bullpen needs to be up to the task against a Kansas City bullpen that is capable of going toe to toe with a focused/rested Rangers bullpen.
The situation surrounding Ortiz being used was made confusing by Ron Washington stating that Ortiz was brought in because it was felt that his changeup would be enough to tie up hitters Jose Lobaton and Desmond Jennings. If one were to go back and look at the sequence to both batters, they’d find that Lobaton only received one changeup in three pitches; he whiffed on it, by the way. Jennings received two in three pitches, one which he whiffed on and one which he drove to right field as the game winning hit. Three hitters, four changeups, six subpar fastballs… one out, via a bunt. I’m not sure about the smaller details of the sequencing between Joe and AJ, but Ortiz does not need to add a new lefty concern when it looks like Robbie Ross is finally coming around.
If ever there was a time for urgency, focus, and energy, it’s this weekend. Perez, Garza, and Ogando will have a task ahead of them and the bullpen will be required to keep pace with their counterparts. A stable, speedy, and balanced offense will be even more important, as they’ll be facing Santana, Guthrie, and Shields. They know they’re not dead yet, so cheer them on this weekend and enjoy some September baseball.