Following in the footsteps of David Price and James Shields before him, Wade Davis turned in a solid performance against the Chicago White Sox tonight. Davis allowed just one run on six hits and two walks in seven innings of work. At one point in the early stages of the game, he retired seven batters in a span of 20 pitches. He threw 99 pitches total with 64 of them strikes.
Davis spent most of the night working in the 89-91 MPH range; although he said he did not notice the lesser velocity. When he needed to, he touched 92 MPH on a few four-seam fastballs. Speaking of four-seamers, he threw a strike 75% of the time (31 of 41) with his lead pitch.
It will be interesting to see how long Davis can maintain solid results with this process. Some of our pals at DRaysBay are a little skeptical of his approach and with good reason. Without a true knockout pitch, nibbling around the corners with velocity in the low 90s could be a recipe for disaster if his location is off even by an inch or two. Tonight, however, he was able to hit his spots.
As Steve Slowinski pointed out, Davis was about even on first-pitch strikes; however, a handful of those first pitches missed on the outside corner against left-handed batters. When he missed against right-handed batters, it was low in the zone in an area where damage could be limited.
It was not a perfect outing by any stretch for the right-hander. Davis found himself in early trouble with the bases loaded in the first inning. He was able to work his way out of it thanks in part to a running catch by Sam Fuld. He received some more help from Fuld later on and got another helper from Matt Joyce in right field. Adam Dunn (double) and Carlos Quentin (solo home run) tagged him a bit in the sixth inning, but overall, Davis was able to spot his pitches and induce relatively weak contact.
In addition to the defense, Davis got some offensive contributions early on. Following a line-drive single by Casey Kotchman, John Jaso crushed a deep home run to right field to give the Rays a 2-0 lead in the second. Kotchman smoked a ball into the right-center gap in the fourth inning for an RBI double. Although he has a handful of hits in the past few games, this was easily the most authoritative he has looked at the plate.
In the fifth inning, Matt Joyce added an RBI double of his own to give the Rays a 4-0 lead. While Fuld has gotten a lot of the attention lately, Joyce has arguably been the best hitter on the club recently. He laced two opposite-field doubles today and it is only a matter of time before he finds the home run stroke. The left-handed trio of Joyce, Kotchman, and Reid Brignac combined for six of the team’s seven hits including three doubles.
Although there is still no official word, the tandem of Joel Peralta and Kyle Farnsworth continue to work as the Rays high-leverage relievers. Playing the role of set-up man, Peralta worked a perfect eighth inning against the most powerful part of the White Sox lineup. Facing the left-handed Adam Dunn, Peralta used a low and away splitter to get a swinging strikeout to end the frame. Farnsworth worked a 1-2-3 ninth inning for his fourth save of the season.
After an 0-6 start, the team now sits at 9-9. Not bad when you consider they have been without Evan Longoria for the last 17 days, lost their projected designated hitter after a week, and have been without his replacement since Sunday.