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Game Recap: Rays Slay Stros Bats. Take Series with 3-2 Win.

Morton gem and 2 Gattis home runs not enough.

MLB: Houston Astros at Tampa Bay Rays Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

In a four game series against a sub .500 team, against a fair to middling pitching staff that can’t field a complete starting rotation, the Astros could not manage to plate even one runner in scoring position.

Its a matter open to debate which is more disgraceful, stranding 14 base runners in a four game series, or only having fourteen runners to strand.

After taking the first game of the series in Tampa Bay 1-0, the Astros dropped the next three, losing two of them by one run, including today’s heart breaker, 3-2.

In the four game series the Astros managed only 7 runs on 21 hits, about 5 hits per game. Today the offense wasted a wizardly performance by one Charlie Morton, who should not be excluded from the All Star game if there is any justice in the universe.

Morton went 6.2 innings today allowing 6 hits and fanning eleven Rays batters. They whiffed at just under 16% of his pitches.

Officially he is charged with two earned runs, a perfect example of the why the earned run average is such a flawed metric for judging a pitcher’s effectiveness. He left the game in the seventh with two outs and runners at first and second base. Usually reliable Chris Devenski (ERA 1.34) was sent in to get the final out.

After getting two strikes on the hitter, the tough Matt Duffy blooped a lazy pop up behind first base six inches fair and just beyond the grasp of sprinting right fielder Josh Reddick. Running on the hit, Adeiny Hechevarria easily scored from second to notch the Rays’ first run.

Then came a mental error that possibly cost the Astros the game. The usually smart and hustling Reddick just held the ball in right field, apparently oblivious to the fact of Joey Wendle sprinting from first on the hit and speeding home as Reddick stood in shallow right holding the ball. He eventually lobbed the ball into the infield too late, as Wendle scored from first unopposed on a ball that traveled 210 feet.

I remember my days as a Little League manager always yelling at my right fielder: “Don’t just stand there, throw the ball.”

Morton of course was charged with both runs and the loss, despite departing with two outs and a shutout.

It was the second time in three games where a defensive snafu was an important component in an Astros loss.

The Astros had their chances. In the fifth inning and two outs Max Stassi singled to left, followed by a 390 foot fly to left center by Jake Marisnick that was caught brilliantly by Rays center fielder Mallex Smith, robbing the Astros of the game’s first run.

In the top of the eighth the Stros managed to load the bases with one out. But AL hit leader Jose Altuve struck out on a pitch a foot outside, and the AL leader in batting average with runners in scoring position, Yuli Gurriel, grounded out weakly for the third out.

The only Astros scoring came on two home runs, each by Evan Gattis, one in the seventh inning, the other in the ninth, his team leading seventeenth. In all four games in the series the only scoring for the Astros came from home runs, the two by Gattis, one by Marisnick, and the other two by Alex Bregman.

Gattis’ home run in the ninth might have tied the score, but in the eighth Mallex Smith added a Rays insurance run on a solo home run off reliever Brad Peacock. It was Smith’s first all year, but for Peacock, who is otherwise having a great year, it was the sixth he has allowed in 36 innings.

Give the rays some credit. They have won 8 of their last 9 games, taking three of four from the World champions, and sweeping the Washington Nationals and the New York Yankees; no mean feat. In their last seven days their pitchers lead the league in ERA at 1.58. Blake Snell was as great today as Charlie Morton, and with his 2.31 ERA for the season also deserves a trip to the All-Star game.

Pending the results of the game today in Seattle, the Astros could wind up only 12 game ahead of the Mariners for the AL West lead. This was the part of the schedule where the Astros were supposed to put distance between themselves and Seattle. The Mariners, the one run wonders, are not cooperating.

Tomorrow the Astros have a day off before they begin a two day series in Arlington against that team.

Box score and videos here.


Which is more disgraceful?

This poll is closed

  • 52%
    Stranding 14 out of 14 runners in scoring position during the four game series.
    (62 votes)
  • 47%
    Only having 14 runners in scoring position during the four game series.
    (57 votes)
119 votes total Vote Now