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June 5, 2014

What You Need to Know

The Rays Sink to the Bottom

by Chris Mosch


The Wednesday Takeaway
On the eve of the 2014 MLB amateur draft, two former no. 1 overall picks took the hill, with Stephen Strasburg facing the scuffling Phillies and David Price seeking to end the Rays’ eight-game losing streak.

Out at Tropicana Field, the home team jumped to an early 3-1 lead in the first inning after back-to-back jacks by Ben Zobrist and Evan Longoria, marking the first time in seven games that the Rays scored more than two runs.

Price struck out 11 and didn’t issue a walk in 7 1/3 innings of work, but he ran into trouble in the fourth inning after Longoria squandered a chance to record the third out. A pair of singles allowed by Price led to runners at second and third with two outs, and the Vanderbilt product got Jeff Baker to hit a chopper to his third baseman:

The play at first would have been close, so Longoria elected to go for the tag at third. After applying the tag, the ball squirted out of Longoria’s glove, allowing a run to score and the inning to continue. But on the very next pitch from Price…

Donovan Solano yanked a three-run shot into the left-field bleachers. Jeff Mathis followed Solano with a single, but Price went on to retire the next 14 Marlins in a row before allowing an infield single to Marcell Ozuna—his final batter of the night—with one away in the eighth inning.

Down 5-3 heading into the ninth, the Rays had an opportunity to get their ace off the hook for the loss after Steve Cishek loaded the bases with no outs to start the frame. After David DeJesus grounded out to move everybody up 90 feet and cut the lead to 5-4, Ben Zobrist hit a high chopper to first. However, the man on third base, Kevin Kiermaier didn’t break home on contact and stayed put despite having a reasonable chance to score the tying run. Cishek intentionally walked Longoria to load the bases, and then got James Loney to pop out to close the door on the shaky save. The Rays are now 0-for-their-last-31 with runners in scoring position.

With the win, the Marlins advanced to 31-28 and sit just a half-game back of the Braves atop the NL East. On the other side, the Rays dropped their ninth straight contest, which, coupled with the Cubs’ 5-4 win over the Mets, saddles Tampa Bay with the worst record in the majors. It’s only a matter of time until the Price trade talk starts heating up.

Quick Hits from Wednesday
Strasburg also punched out 11 batters without issuing a walk and finished with a relatively similar line to Price’s.

After being spotted a 4-0 lead, Strasburg surrendered a pair of unearned runs to the Phillies in the fifth inning after both he and first baseman Adam LaRoche committed fielding errors. Adding to the damage was a catchable double hit to the warning track by Reid Brignac, which sliced away just beyond the reach of Ryan Zimmerman, who got a bad read on the ball and broke in at the crack of the bat.

With the rain starting to fall in the seventh inning, John Mayberry Jr. stepped to the plate as a pinch-hitter and deposited a 2-2 fastball that Strasburg left over the heart of the plate into the left-center field stands. Strasburg would get through the rest of the inning, but left after 109 pitches and a one-hour-and-47-minute rain delay.

Luckily for Strasburg, the Nationals rocked A.J. Burnett for eight runs over six innings, highlighted by Anthony Rendon’s 3-for-5 day at the plate that featured a solo home run in the fifth inning. After the delay, Aaron Barrett and Jerry Blevins each tossed a scoreless inning to preserve the 8-4 victory and send the Phillies to their fifth straight loss.

***

Another former first-round pick was dealing on Wednesday, as Adam Wainwright took the hill to start the ninth against the Royals in search of his third shutout of the season. The 29th-overall pick of the 2000 draft had rendered the Royals hitless through the first five innings before Alcides Escobar laced a hanging curveball the opposite way for a single to open the bottom of the sixth.

With a 2-0 cushion, Wainwright started the ninth off by striking out Eric Hosmer, but Hosmer was able to reach base after swinging at an 0-2 curveball that bounced in the dirt and got away from Yadier Molina. The next batter, Billy Butler, grounded a ball up the middle for a single, which prompted Mike Matheny to make the call to Trevor Rosenthal. A walk and a fielder’s choice cut the lead in half, and set the stage for Lorenzo Cain, who came to the plate with runners at the corners.

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Premium Article The Call-Up: Eugenio S... (06/05)
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