Rays win again with a 1-0 victory over Scherzer

by Gary Shelton on June 27, 2018 · 0 comments

in general

Romo got his sixth save  and the last word./JEFFREY S. KING

Romo got his sixth save and the last word./JEFFREY S. KING

Tuesday, 4 a.m.

There go the Tampa Bay Rays … thinking again.

Here they are, in the best part of their season. They are winning, and they are beating good teams. They are pitching like madmen. Their rookies are good. They can win with 11 runs, and they can win with one.

Also, they can work a Rubik’s Cube while standing on their heads on a tightrope.

Get this one: The Rays were ahead of Washington, 1-0, in the ninth inning when Kevin Cash started putting together jigsaw puzzles again. He wanted to replace reliever Jose Alvarado, who had just walked Bryce Harper, with Chaz Roe. But he wanted to replace Roe with Alvarado.

So he did it this way: He moved Alvarado to first base, first baseman Jake Bauers to left field and and left fielder Mallex Smith to right.  That meant he could bring back Alvarado. After a strikeout by Roe, he returned Alvarado to the mound — where he gave up to soft line drive singles — and Bauer to first and Smith to left.

Got it? On a team with openers and closers, with bullpen starters and regular starters, with set up men and long relievers, you now have a back-burner pitcher.

It's an idea that had been stewing with the Rays so they could get the proper matchups.

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Alvardo -- the Rays' new first baseman?/JEFFREY S. KING

Alvarado -- the Rays' new first baseman?/JEFFREY S. KING

“I guess you call him a closer-first-baseman-closer-out of the game guy,” Rays’ manager Kevin Cash said.

Cash didn’t let Alvarado know fhe change was coming. Alvarez’ reaction?

“Pretty shocked,” Cash said.  “Obviously there’s a language barrier. The best look was Wilson Ramos was looking at me like I had two heads. I said, ‘just

Jake Bauers drove in the Rays' only run./JEFFREY S. KING

Jake Bauers drove in the Rays' only run./JEFFREY S. KING

shut up and explain it to him.’ He can make fun of me later on. Then he and (Hechavarria) explained to Jose what we were asking was to just go stand on the bag and stay out of the way.”

Said Romo: "The kid in me was pretty jealous of him getting to take the place of a position player."

The Rays won their second consecutive shutout and extended their scoreless streak to 22 innings. It was the first back-to-back shutouts in four seasons.

Of the Rays’ last 24 pitchers, only one has given up more than a single run in an appearance.

This time, the key pitcher was Nathan Eovaldi, who mirrored Blake Snell’s Monday start. Eovaldi carried a no-hitter into the sixth (Snell carried his into the seventh) and outdueled Max Sherzer.

Eovaldi had a no-hitter going for five innings.

Eovaldi had a no-hitter going for five innings.

“That’s the story, going  toe-to-toe with arguably the game’s best right now,” said Rays’ manager Kevin Cash.  “It’s not the best feeling when you get one run in the first and you realistically think that might be all you get. Now how do you go about negotiating the eight or nine innings. Nate led us to that with his performance.”

Eovaldi was pleased, too.

“I felt really good today,” he said. “I had my splitter going today ... I felt like for the first time since being back. My fastball command was there. My cutter was really good today. We had some good plays in the infield.”

Eovaldi said it was the first time he had ever been replaced by a reliever twice.

“It took me like a minute or two to process," said Bauers. "Once I thought about it, we had a couple lefties coming up and Alvarado is our only lefty in the pen right now. After that, it kind of made sense and then I had to go out

Kiermaier scored the Rays' only run./JEFFREY S. KING

Kiermaier scored the Rays' only run./JEFFREY S. KING

to left field and I was about 98 percent sure that that ball was getting hit to me or Alvarado. That just seems to be how baseball works sometimes. Chaz comes up with a huge strikeout and we got the win.”

“I told him, ‘hey, go hold him on, don’t move and catch the ball if some- one throws it to you.’ He went for that popup pretty good. He got to the wall quick. He stuck his hand out and everything. It was fun. Keeping it interesting. Sometimes you have to do things like that to win a game, especially when you are a team like us in a one-run ballgame when every pitch is important.”

The moves with Alvarado weren’t the only ones that left an impression. After the game, there were hostilities between reliever Sergio Romo and infielder Michael Taylor. Romo was still burning because of a late steal in a lopsided game by Taylor in an earlier series and let him know. Both teams surrounded the mound, but there was nothing beyond mild shoving.

“I think I said enough out there,” Romo said. “It’s self-explanatory, I think. No disrepect to that team, no disrespect to their coaching staff, no disrespect to anybody on that team other than the person that I felt disrespected me. I don’t know him personally, I have nothing against him off the  field, I’m just letting you know that this game is very unforgiving. The way I was taught to play this game is that it governs itself. I just had to let him know that I didn’t like it.

“Everybody knows what that was about, even guys on their side. Amongst all of that, I got told a couple things by guys that I know very well on that team, and they know I’m not that type of person. I’m not going to start something over nothing, I’m the smallest guy out there to be honest. But, I will defend my team. I will put myself out there for this squad, this team, for the guys that strap on those spikes every day. I’m here for them. Just letting them know that we aren’t going to be a team that you can pad stats on, that’s pretty much it.”

Answered Washington manager Dave Martinez: Sergio was a little upset that we ran on him at home which I didn’t  find a big deal. If he gets mad he should get mad at me. Don’t show up one of our players. I know Kevin Cash and he’ll take care of that over there, but don’t do that. He’s been in this league long enough to know you don’t do that kind of stuff.”

Said Taylor:  “I didn’t hear anything. I didn’t even know that he was talking to me. I saw the dugout standing up and turned around and realized he was saying something, but I never heard him. I understand the situation and they are upset that I stole a base at home in the 6th inning. In my mind, we saw how many runs they scored with nine outs yesterday so the game isn’t over. Obviously they think differently, but I am not worried about that. We lost the game and that is the only thing that upsets me. The talking and things like that, I am not big on drama so it’s whatever.”

The Rays are off today, then play against Houston on Thursday. Ryne Stanek starts for the Rays at 7:10 p.m.

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