Season ending injuries to top-prospects and lengthy DL-stints from everyday contributors have lead to the Rays winning just four of their first 16 games.
After missing the entire 2017 season with an Achilles injury, third baseman Matt Duffy was excited to get back on the field this year. Coupled with the departure of fan-favorite Evan Longoria, the Rays needed him on the field. On Tuesday night, during Tampa Bay’s 8-4 victory over the Texas Rangers, the 27-year-old was unable to stay on the field.
Leading off for the Rays, Duffy lined a single to Rangers right fielder Nomar Mazara. He proceeded to record his first stolen base of the year before, ultimately, moving to third on a Mallex Smith single. Tampa Bay’s training staff, led by Dr Koco Eaton, came out to check on Duffy as he walked gingerly away from the third-base bag. The discussion was quick and a decision was made — Joey Wendle was coming in to replace the starting third baseman. He’ll be reevaluated on Tuesday.
After the game, he commented on how the hamstring tightened up during the stolen base attempt.
“It was kinda at the point where, continuing to go would have been kinda asking for it,” Duffy said. “Better to just be smart and shut it down.”
Duffy doesn’t recall any hamstring issues since his days with High-A San Jose, while with the San Francisco Giants. He wouldn’t speculate on the severity of Tuesday’s injury, however, the 2013 setback required him to miss several games.
“It’s been a while,” he said recalling his time in San Jose. “That required a quick DL trip. Hopefully we don’t have that here but we’ll see what happens.”
Second baseman Daniel Robertson, who went 1-for-3 with his first home run of the season, shifted over to third base and Wendle took his spot at second.
“Even though I’m slated to play second base, I’m out there taking ground balls at short and third,” Robertson said of the shift. “It’s not easy to do that but when you prepare yourself, it makes it a little easier when you get put in those situations.”
Mallex Smith, replacing the injured Kevin Kiermaier, recorded the third four-hit game of his career. It’s his second four-hit effort this season (April 9 vs White Sox). He’s the first player in the majors to have multiple four-hit games this year. In his last seven games, Smith is batting .536 with two doubles, two triples, and three RBI. He’s recorded multiple hits in five of those seven starts.
Starter Blake Snell pitched well, allowing just one run on five hits in 6 1/3 innings pitched. He recorded nine strikeouts, but it was the zero walks that excited him the most.
“Definitely not walking anybody,” he said when asked what felt better. “That’s been a focal point for me personally. Having no walks, that’s huge. It means I’m in the zone attacking.”
C.J. Cron picked up his second home run of the season — a fourth inning blast off of Rangers starter Martin Perez. The Texas left-hander gave up Robertson’s homer two pitches later, after a Wilson Ramos first-pitch groundout.
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