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#pounditMonday, September 28, 2020

Articles tagged: Tampa Bay Rays

Red Sox reportedly dropped protest of Rays’ pitching moves

Alex Cora umpires

The moves the Tampa Bay Rays made late in their game against the Boston Red Sox on Wednesday may have been unorthodox and resulted in mass confusion, but they were perfectly legal. As such, the Red Sox opted to not file an official protest following the 3-2 loss.

Alex Speier of The Boston Globe reported on Thursday that the Red Sox declined to file an official protest with Major League Baseball within the 24-hour window they had to do so. That means the protest has been dropped, whether Alex Cora and his team are still irritated over what happened or not.

Cora said after the game that he believes some “illegal substitutions” were made by the Rays, but the Red Sox manager was wrong. The Rays moved a bunch of players around to strategically get the pitching matchups they wanted, and we explained to you in great detail here why it was all legal.

If the Red Sox had filed a protest, it would have been denied. The umpiring crew even seemed confused by what the Rays were doing and had to delay the game for quite a while, but they didn’t break any rules.

Rays threw funny shade at Red Sox on Twitter over controversial game

Tampa Bay Rays logo

For better or for worse, the Boston Red Sox and the Tampa Bay Rays had a memorable matchup on Tuesday, and that extended into social media as well.

Tampa’s 3-2 win over Boston was marred by an eighth-inning incident where the Rays made a series of confusing and unconventional substitutions that threw off the umpires and caused a roughly 20-minute delay. When play finally resumed, the Red Sox posted a sarcastic tweet featuring the famous GIF of elderly Rose from the movie “Titanic” saying, “It’s been 84 years.”

In response, the Rays referenced The Curse of the Bambino by saying that they “thought 86 years was more [Boston’s] thing.” The Red Sox, of course, went 86 years without winning a World Series between 1918 and 2004.

Granted, the Rays have yet to win a World Series in 21 years of existence, while the Red Sox have won four of them in just the last 15 years alone.

In any case, Boston manager Alex Cora was certainly not laughing about the whole thing.

Alex Cora felt like Rays made ‘illegal substitutions’

Alex Cora

Wednesday’s Tampa Bay Rays-Boston Red Sox game was held up by about 20 minutes during the eighth inning due to some unusual maneuvers by the Rays that had the umpires and Red Sox confused, leaving Red Sox manager Alex Cora believing some “illegal substitutions” were made.

Here’s what happened.

Tampa Bay was leading 3-2 and removed starting pitcher Charlie Morton after seven innings. They began the top of the eighth with lefty Adam Kolarek set to face lefty Jackie Bradley Jr. Boston pinch hit for Bradley with right-handed batter Sam Travis, who popped out. Kolarek was the pitcher and the Rays had Austin Meadows DHing in the third spot at that point.

The Rays wanted Chaz Roe to pitch to the next batter, Mookie Betts, but they wanted to keep Kolarek in the game to face the third batter of the inning — lefty Rafael Devers. So they brought Roe into the game for first baseman Ji-Man Choi, who was batting in the ninth spot. Kolarek moved over to play first base for the at-bat so he could remain in the game.

Due to MLB rules, the Rays lost the DH because they had their pitcher play a defensive position. At that point you had Roe in the ninth spot and then Kolarek in the three spot because they had lost the DH. Then after Roe pitched, Kolarek moved back to pitcher (still in the third spot in the batting order), while Lowe took Roe’s place ninth in the lineup. Kolarek got Devers out and was later replaced by pinch-hitter Willy Adames.

The Rays played things perfectly fine, but Cora took issue with everything, thinking “illegal substitutions” were made.

Adding to the confusion, it seems like umpire Angel Hernandez did not have a strong enough grasp on things to explain to Cora what was happening.

Either Alex Cora did not understand the rules; the umpires did not understand the rules and therefore could not properly explain things to Cora; or there was some combination of the two.

The bottom line is the end result was correct and the Rays and umpires did nothing wrong. That didn’t stop the Red Sox from playing under protest, however.

Red Sox play game under protest after Rays’ unusual pitching moves

Alex Cora umpires

Things got very confusing during the Tampa Bay Rays’ 3-2 win over the Boston Red Sox on Wednesday.

During the top of the 8th inning, the Rays put pitcher Adam Kolarek at first base to bring in right-hander Chaz Roe to record an out. After that, the left-handed Kolarek was moved back to the mound, with Nate Lowe coming off the bench to play first base, replacing Roe.

What followed was chaos. The umpires seemingly weren’t sure how to handle the substitutions with regard to both the designated hitter and the batting order. The game came to a halt during a lengthy meeting that only served to confuse everyone watching and led to a barrage of criticism.

The Rays did lose the DH, which is what happens when a pitcher moves to a defensive position. Kolarek took the third spot in the lineup (which was the previous DH spot), ultimately being pinch-hit for by Willy Adames, while Lowe ultimately occupied the ninth spot, which was the spot Ji-Man Choi had before he exited the game. Red Sox manager Alex Cora was dissatisfied with this, and protested the game as a result.

In other words, a lot of confusing administrative things went down that held up the game by a good half hour. The entire affair was not handled well by the umpires, who were hindered by their lack of ability to communicate what was going on and seemed lost as to what the right course of action was.

The Rays have never been afraid to exploit baseball mechanics to get pitching matchups they want. This one just seemed to confuse everyone in the building.

Rays reportedly have interest in Jesus Aguilar

Tampa Bay Rays logo

The Tampa Bay Rays’ hunt for a bat is not limited to non-contenders.

According to Marc Feinsand of MLB.com, the Rays have shown interest in Milwaukee Brewers first baseman Jesus Aguilar, who is surging after a slow start to the season.

The Rays would have to get creative, with Milwaukee very much in playoff contention. The Brewers are only a half game out of the second wild card spot and two games out in the NL Central, and they’ll be expecting to make the playoffs.

Aguilar erupted onto the scene with 35 home runs in 2018. He only has eight in 2019, despite the uptick in batting average.

The Rays are clearly seeking a bat, as they’ve asked around for another All-Star position player in recent weeks.

MLB needs to address Rays’ latest absurd pitching move

Rays Michael Brosseau

MLB needs to take a serious look at what happened in Monday night’s Tampa Bay Rays-Boston Red Sox game and recognize that they have a problem to address.

The Rays entered Monday’s game against their division rivals short on pitching. They played a doubleheader on Thursday and used four pitchers in one game and three in the other. Seven pitchers appeared in Friday’s 9-2 loss to the White Sox and seven appeared in Saturday’s 2-1 11-inning loss to the White Sox. Four appeared in Sunday’s game. Emilio Pagan had pitched three days in a row. Adam Kolarek and Andrew Kittredge had pitched three games in four days. All were likely unavailable for the series opener against Boston.

So guess what happened?

The Rays fell behind early in the game 8-0. They scored three in the eighth off Nathan Eovaldi to make it an 8-3 game going to the ninth. But because they were so short on pitching, the Rays used third baseman Michael Brosseau to pitch the ninth.

The rookie was making his first pitching appearance in MLB and predictably had some struggles. He was essentially lobbing the ball in and allowed a run on three hits. Here’s what it looked like:

Brosseau was clocked at between 57-75 mph on his pitches. The Rays scored a run in the bottom of the ninth and lost 9-3.

So why did the Rays use a position player in just a 5-run game? The statistical likelihood of making a comeback down by five in the ninth inning is below 1 percent. Also factor in that the Rays had 8-9-1 coming up in the bottom of the inning, and the odds of a major 9th-inning rally were even worse.

Pushing a reliever in that situation rather than save them for a game they’re more likely to win may make sense in an analytical way, but it’s just a horrible freaking look for the league. Teams down by five runs during a playoff race should be TRYING TO WIN, not conceding games. Why even play, why have fans, why do anything if you’re not trying to win? This sends an awful message to the rest of the team’s players and its fans.

The Rays are so hamstrung by a lack of attendance and revenue that they have pioneered some very creative strategies to field competitive teams, such as using an opener to begin games. One of the consequences of relying on so many bullpen arms because of a lack of starters is not having enough guys to pitch in five-run games.

This is a shining example of how some of the advancements in strategic thinking have made the sport WORSE. The league needs to recognize just how bad this sort of thing is for the health of the sport. Their first thought should be that the Rays either need a new home stadium in Tampa and not St. Petersburg, or a new home city. Their next thoughts should be how they can make rule and roster tweaks to avoid such embarrassing things like this from happening. And if games are of so little importance that you’re conceding down five in the ninth, maybe that should tell you 162 regular season games is far too many.

Report: Rays have asked Rangers about Hunter Pence

The Tampa Bay Rays are determined to find affordable trade deadline help as they try to keep pace in the AL wild card race.

According to Jon Morosi of MLB.com, the Rays have asked the Texas Rangers about the availability of DH Hunter Pence, who is enjoying a resurgent season in Arlington.

Pence is hitting .290 with 15 home runs in a surprising comeback year that saw him make the American League All-Star team. The 36-year-old recently returned to action after missing about a month with a groin problem. He’s on a one-year deal, so if Texas opted to move him, the price would likely not be prohibitive. That perfectly suits the Rays’ approach to “responsibly” adding at the deadline.

Rays want to ‘responsibly’ add players at trade deadline

Tampa Bay Rays logo

The Tampa Bay Rays are genuine playoff contenders, but are working on a smaller budget and don’t want to sell the farm. Still, they’ll be looking to add over the next two and a half weeks.

Rays senior vice president Chaim Bloom said Saturday that the team wants to “responsibly” improve the current team, feeling that the players have performed well enough that they’re owed reinforcements.

“What we think of this group and the way they’ve played so far it certainly motivates us to want to help them out however we can,” Bloom said, via Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times. “We want to make sure we do that responsibly, that we’re staying true to our goal of competing sustainably and be able to do this consistently over a number of years. Anything we can do to help them out is something we’re certainly going to look at.”

In other words, the Rays are cautious buyers. That makes their plan similar to that of the Cincinnati Reds. At 54-40, the Rays are wild card leaders, though the Yankees’ dominance may be too much to overcome in the AL East. Given that they start the second half in a playoff spot, upgrades are worthwhile.

Rays offering insanely cheap tickets to try to get fans to ballpark

Tampa Bay Rays logo

The Tampa Bay Rays have had no luck getting fans to come to games despite being a clear playoff contender this season, and they are practically giving tickets away for free in an attempt to change that.

On Thursday, the Rays announced that they will be offering “thousands” of $2 tickets for their upcoming series against the Baltimore Orioles. They’re also slashing some concession prices.

The Rays have drawn an average of around 14,000 fans per home game this year, which is more than only the Miami Marlins. The Orioles are once again the worst team in baseball, so even $2 tickets might not entice fans to head to Tropicana Field.

Things have gotten so bad for the Rays that they are exploring an unprecedented idea to play half their home games in one city and the other half in another. Ultimately, they may end up just having to move the franchise out of Tampa.

Montreal not close to starting on new stadium amid Rays discussions

Tampa Bay Rays logo

The chatter about the Tampa Bay Rays potentially spending part of their season in Montreal has been a big talking point around baseball over the last week, but it’s not close to happening.

On Wednesday, the leaders of the group seeking to bring baseball to Montreal said they are roughly nine months away from being able to start on stadium construction as they sort through the plans for the stadium, the Rays’ intentions, and MLB’s approval.

The Rays have an ambitious plan, to be sure, and it’s gained a lot of attention. It also may never happen, and has been met with a lot of criticism from a lot of different sources.