Rays right-hander allows five runs in first start since June 10
By Fabian Ardaya
CHICAGO -- Rays right-hander Matt Andriese executed what he feels he does best on Sunday, in his first start since June 10, by pounding the zone. He might have done it a little too much, though, leaving a few balls over the plate. He gave up five runs and plenty of sharp contact in a 6-2 loss to the White Sox.
The 28-year-old hit his pitch-count target by throwing 74 pitches over five innings, allowing five runs and two home runs with five strikeouts. Andriese, who missed two and a half months with a stress reaction in his right hip, displayed plenty of swing-and-miss stuff, inducing 14 swinging strikes, eight coming on his offspeed pitches, but he also found himself hanging pitches in bad spots.
"I liked that I felt healthy," Andriese said. "I went through five innings, felt pretty good the whole time out there. I was consistent in the strike zone, but I think I made a couple pitches that were a little bit easier to hit. First start back in a while, so it feels good to get back out there."
Andriese's shaky outing comes at a big time. The Rays sit four games behind the Twins for the second American League Wild Card spot entering a three-game set against Minnesota at Tropicana Field that starts Monday.
"Matt's been around the block enough," Rays manager Kevin Cash said. "He knows how to pitch. He'll be the first to tell you that he just left some breaking balls up in the zone or offspeed pitches up in the zone. When you do that, guys hit them."
According to Statcast™, nine of the 16 balls put in play against Andriese were classified as "hard-hit" -- with exit velocities of 95 mph or more off the bat. He got off to a crisp start, working a seven-pitch first inning and allowing just two runners to reach base his first time through the order. He quickly ran into trouble.
After Alen Hanson laced a single to lead off the third, Tim Anderson followed with a hard-hit double down the left-field line. The next pitch Andriese threw was a 92.1-mph fastball down the middle of the plate that Jose Abreu sent over the wall in left field for a towering two-run shot. Even with a hit probability of five percent according to Statcast™, the ball had an exit velocity of 99.7 mph and got just deep enough to land in the bullpen.
"With an aggressive team like that, I have to bury a pitch instead of leaving one over the middle," Andriese said. "It was good overall, but five runs is not something I'm happy about.
"Don't make the pitch that I made there with Abreu, and it could've been a whole different ballgame."
The White Sox added on through an Adam Engel double in the fourth and Anderson's solo home run just over the glove of Kevin Kiermaier in center field. While health was the major concern of the day, Andriese found his stuff wearing off as the outing progressed. It's something the right-hander said will develop as he builds his stamina back up.
"I think I felt good after 75 pitches today, whereas my last Minor League rehab start I kind of got a little tired," Andriese said. "Today, I felt like I could have gone a little bit deeper. I think 90 to 100 [pitches next start] should be good."
Fabian Ardaya is a reporter for MLB.com based in Chicago who covered the Rays on Sunday. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.