Verlander tames Rays in Division opener

by Gary Shelton on October 5, 2019 · 0 comments

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Glasnow started strong, but Verlander was better./JEFFREY S. KING

Saturday, 4 a.m.

Beating the Houston Astros is a job for perfection.

On Friday afternoon, the Tampa Bay Rays didn't have it.

The Rays, so sharp down the stretch drive, lacked the precision it takes to get past Houston Friday, falling in a 6-2 game when their own shortcomings came back to beat them. They didn't hit enough, didn't field enough and didn't pitch enough to keep up with the Astros. Houston takes a 1-0 lead in the best-of-five series, and for the Rays, the challenge is that the Astros have Gerrit Cole and Zack Grienke ready to start the next two games.

On Friday, it was Justin Verlander who sapped the Rays of their recent spark, holding them to one hit over seven innings, taking a 6-0 lead and coasting to the win.

"We got Verlandered," said Rays' manager Kevin Cash.

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Meadows said he should have caught a popup that fell in./CHUCK MULLER

Verlander struck out eight and was masterful against the Rays. Tampa Bay got its two runs and four of its five hits after Verlander left the game.

Tampa Bay contributed to its own demise. In the fifth inning, No. 9 hitter Josh Reddick drew a walk. One out later, Jose Altuve homered over the left field wall for a 2-0 lead. That chased Tyler Glasnow from the game, but Houston greeted Brendan McKay with a single and a double.

Then came the biggest flub of the game for the Rays. Gurriel popped up to shallow right field, a ball usually fielded by the right fielder. But with Austin Meadows playing deep, Brandon Lowe called for the ball but missed it in right field.

"I've got to catch it, Lowe said. "Plain and simple. I called it and I dropped it.  I've just got to keep going for it. it’s not his (Meadows') fault. It’s loud and he’s playing deep. I’ve got to know  where the outfielders are and I’ve got to make that catch"

Meadows disagreed.

"It was a tough play for Brandon," Meadows said. "I’ve got to take charge there. I didn’t, and it resulted in  two runs. I’ll learn from it."

Cash said, regardless, the Rays should have made the play

"I think we recognize we have to convert that into an out," Cash said. "I'm not sure if there was miscommunication, a lack of communication. I haven't actually gone and talked to the guys. I think we all recognize that that's got to be an out."

The Astros added two more in the seventh on doubles by Jordan Alvarez and Gurriel.

Tampa Bay got it's only runs in the eighth on a single by Eric Sogard and a double by Meadows.

"We're going to have to get some hits," Tommy Pham said of today's game.

Tyler Glasnow started strong for the Rays through four innings.

"I was really impressed with (Glasnow's) performance," Cash said. "He quieted just a super talented offense and Altuve got him there on, it looked like, a pretty fairly well-executed pitch. But it's Jose Altuve."

Said Glasnow:  "I actually agreed with the pitch. Hindsight's 20/20. If I went back, I would probably throw a curveball. There were a lot of heaters leading up to it. It was a good pitch though. He's a really good hitter and he put a good swing on it."

"I feel like today, I was pretty fastball heavy. Coming out early on, not having a great feel for my curveball for strikes, it was more of a fastball heavy game plan. I think as the game went on, obviously, I started throwing a little bit more, there was a little sharper bite to them. Early on, most guys, it was mostly heaters."

The Rays have to beat Cole, who was 16-0 in his last 22 starts. They'll start Blake Snell, last year's Cy Young winner who finished 6-8 this year. The game starts at 9:07 p.m. at Houston's Minute Maid Park.

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