Wade Davis managed to complete six innings in under 60 pitches. In the end, he completed 7 2/3 with 98 tosses. Davis was poor if you go by his peripherals—four walks, two home runs, and three strikeouts—but things really didn’t fall apart until the final two innings, as you would guess from his pitch count. In the seventh, Davis walked three, and gave up a home run. Take away that inning and Davis had two strikeouts, one walk, and a home run. Pretty? No, but not quite a monstrosity.
Earlier today, I touched on B.J. Upton’s approach in May, noting that more of his swings were coming on one-strike counts. Tonight, he homered off Ricky Romero on a 0-1 count. Timing is everything.
Reid Brignac’s return to the lineup was not illustrious in the common sense—he did not hit a home run or even reach base—however he did work his two plate appearances to the max. The first ended on the 11th pitch of the at-bat, as Ricky Romero tested every fiber and morsel of Brignac’s plate acumen before getting him to whiff at a changeup low. The second ended on six pitches, as Brignac took back-to-back inside pitches with both called strikes.
Nobody is going to award Brignac a medal for his performance, but you hope it is the start of something. Not every plate appearance has to go five-plus pitches to be a success—heck, some can go one pitch and be worthwhile. The key is to swing at strikes. Balls are charged against the pitcher for a reason.
Dan Johnson made his fourth start of May, meaning he appears about once every three-or-four games, gets two, sometimes three plate appearances, then goes back into the cage they store him in during the other 75-to-80 percent of the time. Starting against a right-handed pitcher is something Johnson has done once in May.
At this point, the Rays are essentially operating with a 24-man roster. It showed again tonight, as Johnson faced Romero then was lifted for Casey Kotchman despite Johnson’s spot later possibly coming up against the right-handed Frank Francisco. I was sold that Johnson could hit around the league-average mark and provide enough on-base percentage to be worth playing at first base unless a better alternative arrived, but it’s becoming clear that he won’t get an extended chance at reclaiming his starting job.
Perhaps the only chance for Johnson is if Kotchman continues his slide and the Rays decide to swap them for a month. Otherwise, Johnson appears to be a dead duck sitting once the Super Two date passes and the Rays can promote Brandon Guyer permanently.
If the recent past is any indication, then Johnson is going to be stuck in baseball purgatory until then.