The slow and steady approach continues to work for Wade Davis. The right-hander worked into the seventh inning once again and limited the damage without using maximum velocity. Davis finished the night with 107 pitches over 6.2 innings. He allowed two runs on seven hits and three walks. He struck out five Minnesota Twins in the process despite just two whiffs.
Davis threw 65 fastballs (56 four-seam, 9 two-seam) on the night. Once again, his average velocity was 89-91; however, when he needed to Davis hit 93 MPH on several occasions. After the offense spotted him a four-run lead in the top of the first, Davis was in trouble with two on and no out in the bottom half of the inning. On a 2-2 count, Davis struck out Jason Kubel on a 93 MPH for the first out. He induced a 4-6-3 double play to end the threat.
From there, the Twins would not do much against Davis. After throwing 26 pitches in the first inning, he had several quick innings including a pair of nine-pitch frames in the second and the fifth. Down 8-1 in the seventh, Minnesota loaded the bases with one out against Davis. Alexi Casilla hit a sac-fly on a 92 MPH heater for the second out of the inning and the last of Davis’ outing.
The confidence in the Davis approach builds with every start. As I’ve said in the past, it is encouraging that he can reach back and get a few extra ticks on the fastball when he needs to. This comes in handy when the control is not quite there like the first inning of tonight’s contest.
As mentioned, the offense got things going before Davis took the mound. Given the edict to pitch to contact, Francisco Liriano obliged in the first. The first five Rays reached base on a double, single, double, triple, single, while scoring four runs in the process.
Leading off the game, Sam Fuld laced a double off the façade in right field. Had there not been a giant concrete awning hanging over the field, Fuld would’ve had a home run in a normal park. Johnny Damon came up with the “game-winning” RBI in the next at-bat.
Following a B.J. Upton double down the left-field line, Ben Zobrist hit a triple to center field scoring Damon and Upton. Tampa Bay loaded the bases in the fourth inning with no outs and scored three runs without the benefit of a hit. The Rays received two free passes with the bases loaded (part of four straight walks) and scored their seventh run on a Zobrist sac-fly.
The team had nine walks overall including three by Sam Fuld. This will be vital to his success as it is unlikely he can maintain a .350 batting average all season. The good news is when/if the hits stop coming, he can continue to get on base and do Sam Fuld things with the walk.
After urging for patience all around in regards to Johnson this morning, the first baseman responded with two walks of his own. He saw a combined 17 pitches in those at-bats – including a 10-pitch battle with Liriano. Tucked in between his walks was a single off the lefty as well.
Some guy named Andy Sonnanstine worked the ninth inning to put the Rays over .500 for the first time this season. After a two day break, we get 3 games in the next 36 hours. The Rays were ready on Wednesday; let’s hope they can take two on Thursday.