Giants-Rays preview

BY foxsports • June 18, 2016

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- It's a sore spot for Tampa Bay fans regardless of the opponent, but having Buster Posey and the San Francisco Giants in town is a reminder of how much the Rays aren't getting from their catchers.

Friday's 5-1 loss to San Francisco in the series opener saw Rays catcher Curt Casali go 0-for-3 with a strikeout to drop to .173 on the season, with a catcher's interference call and wild pitch contributing to an unearned run in a two-run fourth for the Giants.

Posey, of course, could have been the Rays' choice with the top pick in the 2008 MLB draft, but he fell to fifth and the Giants, with signability a major factor in that drop. The Rays instead chose shortstop Tim Beckham, who was on the bench Friday with a .203 average after getting two errors in Thursday's loss to Seattle.

Posey came through with a double and scored in the first inning, and he's second on the Giants with eight home runs to go with his 31 RBIs.

"Buster Posey hit a good pitch there, and the pitch they scored on was not a very well-struck ball," Rays starter Chris Archer said. "The plan is always to be aggressive, to always attack ... we're human and sometimes we don't hit our spot."

The Rays catching tandem of Casali and Hank Conger can actually match Posey's eight home runs, though they combine for 20 fewer hits than the Giants slugger.

The best asset the Rays catchers bring is handling a pitching staff well -- on Friday, that was Chris Archer, who gave up four runs in the loss and dropped to 4-9 and is tied for the American League lead in losses.

"Chris was good, with the exception of a few pitches and a bonehead move on my part," Casali said of the catcher interference. "I'm never trying to get catcher's interference, I'm always trying to help him out, get under the baseball and steal strikes for him. Sometimes my glove will run into a long swing. It ended up costing him a couple of runs. I feel pretty bad about that."

The Giants are at the opposite end of the power-hitting spectrum from the Rays -- San Francisco has just 56 home runs, third-fewest in the majors, while the Rays have 94, fourth-most in the majors.

San Francisco hasn't needed home runs in their recent stretch -- they've outscored opponents 36-14 during a six-game win streak, improving to a season-high 16 games over .500 with a 42-26 record.

They can only hope to get as much on the mound Saturday from Albert Suarez (2-1, 3.33 ERA) as they did from Jeff Samardzija in a four-hit complete-game win on Friday.

"I thought (my command) got better as the game went on," Samardzija said after the game. "We got some good outs there behind in the count, which helped out a lot. (Third baseman Matt) Duffy made a handful of plays over there at third that made my night a lot easier. When you're getting defense like that behind you, it helps you have a little more command."



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