RAYS 5, Astros 0 (boxscore)
THE GOOD: Chris Archer. 6.2 shutout innings. 8 strikeouts. 2 walks…Kevin Kiermaier. Here are K2’s home runs by years at all levels: 2 (Rookie league), 4 (low-A), 0 (Rookie, High-A, AAA), 6 (AA, AAA), 7 (AAA, MLB). In other words, his 7 HRs in AAA and with the Rays this season is already a career-high and we are not even halfway through the season. Can he keep it up? This was a guy that wasn’t on anybody’s radar last year and now he is batting 3rd in the big leagues…Evan Longoria. When Longo is really going well he really pounds inside pitches and can hit just about any pitch out of the park. He is still not that there yet. But last night we saw that he is getting back to pounding mistake pitches and that’s a start. When a pitcher leaves a fastball waist-high and out over the plate to a good hitter like Longo, that should be a home run more often than not and last night it was…Grant Balfour. 3 batters. 3 strikeouts. But more importantly, he looked like he was getting his swagger back. He also had a little more giddy-up on the fastball. He was averaging 92.5 mph on his fastball in June prior to last night. Last night it was 93.3 mph while the speed on his other pitches were consistent with the rest of the month. The bigger question though is what happens next time he is not overpowering hitters? This is the Astros with a lot of young and inexperience players that can be easy to push around. So in some ways, it was important for Joe Maddon to get Balfour into this series to help his confidence. But we still need to see it against a good team.
THE BAD: Nobody saw a good game. Attendance was 10,880, the 8th smallest crowd this season. The Rays are now averaging 17,166, down 7.9% from last year (18,645).
THE TELLING: Prior to the game, David DeJesus was placed on the DL with a broken bone in his hand. The injury happened on a check-swing the night before. Brandon Guyer was called up to take his place. This also buys Jerry Sands some more time on the bench…This was the 8th shutout for the Rays’ pitching staff this season. Combined with the 11 times the Rays have been shutout, that means 25.7% of Rays games this season have seen one of the teams not score. That is tops in the AL and second only to the Cardinals (27.4%)…The Rays are 29-45, 5.5 games behind the Red Sox for fourth place in the East…The Rays have reached an agreement with their 3rd-round pick, high school pitcher Brock Burke for $900,000, well above his slot value ($544,900, the amount recommended by MLB).
THE JUNKYARD DOGS WEBTOPIA…
- Durham Bulls manager Charlie Montoyo has been named the manager of the IL’s All-Star team. [WDBB]
- Clayton Kershaw’s no-hitter was possibly the most dominant no-hitter ever thrown and that includes perfect games. [BI Sports]
- DOWN ON THE FARM [boxscores] The Durham Bulls had the night off…SS Jake Hager went 3-4 with a triple and a home run for Montgomery…Casey Gillaspie went 1-4 with a strikeout and is now 3-25 with 10 Ks and no walks in his first 5 pro games. He does have one home run.
You know what the Rays need more of? Players dressed like Ninja Turtles in the dugout.