Meet the Rays: MLB’s Big Unknown Tasked with Beating Dodgers Superteam

Meet the Rays: MLB’s Big Unknown Tasked with Beating Dodgers Superteam

Tampa Bay Rays starting pitcher Tyler Glasnow leaves the game against the Los Angeles Dodgers during the fifth inning in Game 1 of the baseball World Series Tuesday, Oct. 20, 2020, in Arlington, Texas. (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez)

Tony Gutierrez/Associated Press

ARLINGTON, Tex. – Yeah, it’s essential to well possibly possibly possibly know Tyler Glasnow has one in every of the recreation’s most tips-bending curveballs and cornea-searing fastballs. And his waft is unbelievable.

But in your quest to decide on out correct who these Tampa Bay Rays are, per chance that you just must perceive this, too: Dude keeps a WiFi-powered toaster in his locker at Tropicana Field and has frail it to cook dinner tiny meals for himself and his teammates.

And consistent with the Rays’ media book, one in every of the finest within the recreation and a adore trove of enjoyable minute nuggets that sing analytics doesn’t can rep to be all starched collars and decimal functions, Glasnow handed share of his formative years in Newhall, California, tossing water balloons at vehicles from the tip of a Subway sandwich store. Now there could be a sandwich artist.

Then sometime, he changed into chagrined to be taught that one in every of the water balloons exploded on the windshield of the wife of the native police chief. Presumably, he emphasized pitching over water-ballooning sometime shortly thereafter.

Pointless to reveal, within the lid-lifter of the 2020 World Sequence, Glasnow could well possibly possibly privately had been wishing he changed into tossing one thingthe leisurerather then baseballs as the Los Angeles Dodgers mentioned hiya by pasting the Rays into submission, 8-3.

Perhaps Recreation 2 will wander larger for Tampa Bay on Wednesday evening. Blake Snell, who obtained the 2018 American League Cy Younger Award, will get the ball to strive and even this sequence. He’s presupposed to rep more than 400 pairs of shoes.

Jae C. Hong/Associated Press

No doubt, he must rep a a hit pair of cleats somewhere in that pile of size-13s. He started collecting shoes within the seventh grade by earning money catching bullpen sessions of faculty students taking classes from his father, a old minor league pitcher.

He grew out of catching shortly amplehe is 6’4″partly by gorging himself at his accepted situation of starting save hangout, which shortly ample honored him in meat and cheese by naming a pizza after him. Discontinuance by Spiro’s Pizza and Pasta in Snell’s situation of starting save of Shoreline, Washington, and repeat the Number Nineteen“The Blake Snell”which functions Italian salami, pepperoni, Canadian bacon and mozzarella.

It’s taken Tampa Bay 12 years to return to the World Sequence after getting stomped by the extremely efficient Philadelphia Phillies in 2008. Now, its job is to withhold far off from getting stomped by the extremely efficient Dodgers. Andrew Friedman, the Dodgers president of baseball operations, changed into the current manager of the Rays in ’08, and contemporary Tampa Bay current manager Erik Neander as soon as interned beneath him.

Neander changed into promoted to his contemporary situation after the 2016 season and, after the Rays pushed the Houston Astros to Recreation 5 in a division sequence closing 365 days sooner than a hit the AL East this 365 days and producing the AL’s simplest overall file, the Virginia Tech graduate has spent great of the old few days fielding questions from of us tense to know the arrangement a crew ranked 28th in payroll outsmarts all americans.

“We’re not looking to outsmart anybody,” Neander protested. “We’re not making an strive attain the leisure rather then make the finest decisions we can to achieve what’s simplest for us in all aspects in our operation.”

But about outsmarting of us: Seven players in Tampa’s Recreation 1 lineup had been obtained by the use of switch. Gold Glove center fielder Kevin Kiermaier changed into a 31st-spherical interact within the draft, for crying out loud. Pointless to reveal, that changed into support in 2010 when Friedman changed into serene running the Rays. So no, it is not in actuality Neander on my own who’s outsmarting of us.

“Right here’s as factual a community of of us as you will search out, no doubt at the final be conscious level, as ego-free and selfless as you will explore,” Neander mentioned sooner than pinpointing Kiermaier as the “consummate Ray, one in every of many, many players over the moon to rep the opportunity to showcase themselves on this stage.”

Kiermaier wasted no time with that in Recreation 1 when he knocked a Clayton Kershaw slider over the fence for a home bustle within the fifth inning to speedy decrease the Dodgers end result in 2-1. He added an RBI single within the seventh, nonetheless the Dodgers led 8-3 by then.

That is kind of a difference from closing October when after that division sequence loss to Houston, Kiermaier went home to his native Wisconsin and one in every of his accepted diversions: fishing. He owns a personalised boat named “Outlaw Bonefishing” and spent one evening hauling in a 43-pound buffalo carpa private simplestat 2 a.m.

Tranquil out of the lake this October, per chance Kiermaier’s Recreation 1 slugging will encourage his tepid teammates. Despite eliminating the Yankees and Astros to rep right here, the Rays came into this World Sequence batting correct .209 this postseason, the third-worst reasonable attributable to the playoffs expanded support in 1995. To boot they had been in an 0-for-16 swamp with runners in scoring situation going support to Recreation 3 of the AL Championship Sequence sooner than, within the raze, Mike Brosseau rapped an RBI single within the seventh before Kiermaier’s.

Opt 2nd baseman Brandon Lowe (rhymes with “now”). Following one more 0-for-4 evening in Recreation 1, Lowe is now hitting .107 this postseason with one homer and two RBI. It sounds as if what Lowe wants is a mountainous primitive heaping helping of…applesauce.

Merely legend: When he changed into scuffling as soon as at Triple-A Durham, the membership stocked its clubhouse refrigerator with these GoGo squeezes of applesauce. Lowe noticed them and belief per chance he hadn’t been eating ample fruit lately. So he scarfed one and homered the next day to come, and applesauce has been his wander-to ever since.

Brandon Lowe @Sweet_n_Lowe5

Tall thanks to @GoGosqueeZ and @tampamama for sending me the applesauce loaded with hits!! #gogosqueeZ

“Absolutely it is serene there,” he mentioned Monday when I asked whether he serene shares applesauce. “That is one part I obtained’t switch. I will serene be eating applesauce.”

Clearly, he’s about a jars short of a multi-hit recreation this autumn. Most definitely Randy Arozarena, the breakout wide title of this month and the ALCS MVP, has been swiping Lowe’s applesauce. Got by Neander in a switch with St. Louis closing iciness, Arozarena has smashed seven homers this postseason, the most by any rookie in historic previous.

He also changed into the breakout wide title of the Rays’ celebration after eliminating the Yankees within the division sequence when he obtained the players’ wild dance-off celebration with a rush wander on his head.

“Elated he’s OK,” Neander mentioned in what changed into either a wry quip or an enormous sing of reduction.

“Oh man, right here’s coming from Willy [Adames]. They sing me he’s hysterical, one in every of the funniest of us [the Latin players] focus on over with,” Lowe mentioned of Arozarena. “The language barrier hurts, nonetheless when he’s feeling factual, he’s a rather silly guy.”

In reality silly,” Adames mentioned. “He’s cherish a Latin model of Kevin Hart.”

Dodgers pitching handled Arozarena within the sequence opener. What he wants is some serve. Perhaps it could perhaps possibly possibly possibly come from Yandy Diaz, a dedicated weightlifter whose “muscle groups had been featured in Males’s Journal“, informs the Rays’ media book. But Diaz managed ultimate a single in Recreation 1, though even that nudged his postseason reasonable from .125 to .143.

Fan accepted Ji-Man Choi, who specializes, gymnastics-style, in doing the splits while making all forms of ravishing performs originally depraved, is hitting .290 within the playoffs and most definitely can serve rep the Rays going. But on the opposite hand, October could well possibly possibly not be the time for it attributable to, as the media book tells us, he “is panicked of ghosts and believed to rep had many encounters with them, alongside side hugs and whispers.” Choi mentioned he felt a “spirit” on his chest while improving from 2011 support surgical operation and felt the bed jog.

He changed into known as on in Recreation 1 to pinch hit for Adames within the seventh and face correct-hander Dylan Floro. But then, sooner than making it to the plate, he disappeared correct as speedy as if…he had seen a ghost. It changed into either that or Dodgers manager Dave Roberts summoning lefty Victor Gonzalez that precipitated Rays manager Kevin Money to send Brosseau to bat for Choi at that time.

Yes, these Rays rep persona, and a few of them are characters. But they’d larger begin up hitting sooner than the Dodgers take hang of this part in three games.

Heading into this World Sequence, an improbable 71.9 percent of Tampa Bay’s runs this postseason rep scored by the use of home runs. It’s the final be conscious percentage of postseason runs ensuing from homers attributable to the Willie Stargell, Bob Robertson 1971 Pittsburgh Pirates, who scored 58.3 percent of their postseason runs on homers.

However, living by the home bustle just will not be who these guys are or wishes to be. All the arrangement through the season, ultimate 41.5 percent of Tampa Bay’s runs scored by the use of the home bustle.

So had been they shellshocked when the Dodgers tore into them within the opener? Rattled?

Eric Homosexual/Associated Press

“No longer one bit,” mentioned catcher Mike Zunino, whose of us met in Italy while playing for the nation’s premier baseball and softball leagues (his mom, Paola, changed into a catcher on the Italian nationwide softball crew). “No longer one bit. It’s the recreation of baseball. There are going to be rather more games to be played. These games can bustle wild generally.”

Uncharacteristically, so did Tampa’s pitching in Recreation 1. The Rays issued seven walks, and three of these Dodgers runners came spherical to ranking. That, too, is a disastrous recipe for making an strive to beat a crew as full as the Dodgers.

But attributable to of the lopsidedness, Money didn’t even unleash his “stable” of top-shelf relievers who blow straight gas at 98 mph or elevated.

There’s Slash Anderson, who bounced spherical varied impartial leagues and didn’t even play affiliated baseball until he changed into 25.

There’s rookie Pete Fairbanks, who as soon as hoped to assemble militia airplane for Boeing and scored 34 of a that it’s essential to well possibly possibly possibly deem 36 functions on his ACT.

There’s Diego Castillo, who doubles as a cook dinner and as soon as recorded a family recipe of chicken, rice and plantains in a Nov. 2016 cooking video that changed into shared on the Rays’ Twitter legend.

Recreation 3 starter Charlie Morton can cook dinner, too. He picked up barbecuing while improving from Tommy John surgical operation and is necessary ample about it that he’s known to rise at 3 a.m. on days he’s planning a mountainous smoke.

However Recreation 2 turns out, obviously, the Rays no doubt could well possibly possibly use Morton, who has been dominant this postseason, to, ahem, smoke the Dodgers.

“We will be OK,” Kiermaier promised. “It’s miles never in actuality how that you just must begin up out the principle recreation, nonetheless we’ll be correct horny.”

Scott Miller covers Main League Baseball as a nationwide columnist for Bleacher Document. Apply Scott on Twitter to focus on baseball.  

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