On Friday night, the Tampa Bay Rays paid a visit to Detroit for the first of a three-game series with the Tigers. Unfortunately, despite their recent struggles, the Rays reverted to their early-season form, smothering the Tigers to the tune of a 8-0 score.
Reese Olson got the nod for the Tigers, in his ninth start of the year. (He made a couple of long appearances in relief, either in a piggyback start or with an opener.) The righty from Georgia, who just turned 24 this week, has had his struggles so far in his rookie year, with a typical start lasting about five innings, surrendering anywhere between one and five runs. I wouldn’t say any game has truly “gotten away” from Olson and tonight wouldn’t really be an exception, but as you’ll see, it could have gone much, much better.
Facing the Tigers tonight was Zack Littell, who is in the process of transitioning from the bullpen to the rotation. He’s been around since 2018, making a few starts here and there, but the Rays want to try him solely as a starter now. He started the year in the minors with Texas, had a couple of appearances out of the bullpen with Boston, got cut, the Rays picked him up, and now they’re in the process of turning another scrap-heap arm into another hidden gem. Oh, those Rays! (More on that later.)
Olson got in trouble early against the dangerous Tampa Bay lineup: after getting a couple of first-inning grounders, a single, a walk, and an Isaac Paredes (sigh.) double featuring a throwing error, the Rays were up 2-0. They continued their scoring ways in the second inning, with a leadoff single and José Siri screaming line drive home run, putting the visitors up 4-0. Olson played with fire again in the third, putting two on with two out via a single and a walk, but got out of the inning unscathed.
Meanwhile, the Tigers were crushing the ball everywhere around the park in the first three innings, but said contact all seemed to be finding the Rays’ gloves. It’s like the old line, “If it wasn’t for bad luck, I wouldn’t have no luck at all.”
Olson settled down over the next pair of innings, getting three outs fairly quickly and without too much drama. He was finished after five frames, giving up four runs, walking three and striking out three; it’s not really the type of crisp start you’re hoping Olson will eventually have.
Chasen Shreve took over to start the sixth, and Zack McKinstry bounced a throw to first; Harold Ramirez followed with a single, putting runners on the corners with none out. Siri struck again, this time with a single, making it a 5-0 game. Shreve was dispatched in favour of Beau Brieske, and Christian Bethancourt greeted him with a single to push the lead to 6-0; Yandy Diaz followed suit for a 7-0 score.
The contact against Littell got quieter as the game went on, and by the sixth (and the end of his outing) he was absolutely cruising. Tampa Bay’s going to have to have some starting pitching help with Shane McClanahan going on the IL yesterday with forearm tightness.
Let’s try to lighten this recap up a bit, shall we? Breaking news out of the west side of Michigan...
It looks like that’s it for Jackson Jobe.— Tigers ML Report (@tigersMLreport) August 4, 2023
5IP | 4H | 0R | 0BB | 6K
66 pitches, 45 strikes
Fastball touched 98 a few times. Got swings and misses with his fastball, slider, and change — 9 overall. Also picked off two runners.
Ahh, that’s better. He just turned 21, somebody buy him a beer! And now, back to Detroit.
Trey Wingenter tried to stop the bleeding in the seventh, but alas, he was not successful, as the Wave unfortunately made its way around the stadium and the Rays went up 8-0. The Tigers then had to face the solid Rays bullpen, a tough task for any team, much less the light-hitting Tigers.
Curtis Mead, an Australian making his major-league debut, swung on the first pitch he saw from Brendan White in the top of the eighth, and thus the first pitch he’d ever seen in the major leagues, and smacked a single to right. I mean, the Tigers weren’t gonna win this one anyway, let’s let the kid have a hit, eh?
Shawn Armstrong took over in the bottom of the eighth, and he exemplifies the Tampa Bay Pitching Magic: he’s been a hum-drum reliever since making his debut in Cleveland in 2015, with nothing really special stat-wise. This year with the Rays, though: 27 innings, two runs allowed. Obviously, he had a 1-2-3 inning, and he followed that up with another in the ninth.
AJ Hinch got out the white flag and Zack Short pitched the top of the ninth. To his credit, he retired all three of the batters he faced in his fourth pitching appearance of the year.
Game #2 of the series starts at 1:10 pm EDT (GMT-4) on Saturday.
Ya Love to See This
Davis Schneider has been plugging away in the Blue Jays’ minor-league system since being drafted in the 28th round out of high school in New Jersey in 2017. He was doing well in Triple-A Buffalo this year, with 21 home runs, and he finally got the call to the big leagues. So, what did he do in his first at-bat — at Fenway, no less?
Notes and Things
- In case you missed it, Old Friend Michael Lorenzen had himself a heck of a start on Thursday night against the Marlins in Miami. He went eight innings and gave up a pair of runs, striking out five, in a Phillies 4-2 win.
- MiLB.com had the Whitecaps game on tonight, and I managed to catch Hao-Yu Lee beat out a swinging-bunt infield single, and take second on a wild throw. Nice.
- For Miguel Cabera’s last game, I think he should be allowed to pick what position he plays. He played left field in his legendary debut game in which he hit a walk-off home run, so if he wants to grab an outfielder’s glove for his last game, we should let him. Or, hell, let him pitch, he’s earned it.
- Happy 62nd birthday to former US president Barack Obama. It’s always funny to compare pictures of presidents from when they entered office to when they left: with very few exceptions (I mean, Reagan was already pretty old), they look like they age way more than eight years after being in that gig for two terms. Obama started with just a few grey hairs, and by the end he was entirely grey and with significantly more wrinkles.