McGee makes quick work of Mariners
Lefty reliever retires all seven batters he faces on 29 pitches
ST. PETERSBURG -- When Jake McGee saw the Mariners slotted seven left-handed hitters and two switch-hitters in their lineup Thursday afternoon, he knew he might be in for a busy day.
But the Rays lefty reliever made short work of the seven batters he faced, mowing them down in order on only 29 pitches as Tampa Bay completed the sweep over Seattle with a 4-3 win at Tropicana Field.
Manager Joe Maddon said McGee had "probably his best combination of velocity and location" of the season.
"By far," McGee agreed. "I located on both sides of the plate with my fastball really well, and my velocity was consistent each inning I went out. I threw a couple good sliders, but I didn't need to throw many of them today, especially when I'm locating like that."
"For McGee to go out there and do what he did today, that was huge," Rays starter Jeff Niemann said. "You wouldn't want anyone else out there."
Maddon also raved about McGee's efficient outing, calling it "pretty incredible work" and "very unusual." Maddon certainly didn't plan to use McGee for 2 1/3 innings, but with a depleted bullpen, a slew of lefties due up for the Mariners and McGee sitting them down so quickly, it worked out. If anything, Maddon said, leaving McGee in the game so long helped him.
"It really comes down to Jake being able to get that many outs in that few pitches," Maddon said. "That's what it really comes down to."
"I wasn't too good at math, but I know that's pretty good. When you get seven straight outs, it's always a good thing," McGee said. "Joel Peralta got five outs last night, and I got seven today. It's a different guy each night stepping up and pitching well out of the bullpen."
McGee has allowed only one baserunner over his last five appearances, and each of his last eight appearances have been scoreless. He said he's felt great since striking out Justin Morneau in the Rays' 6-2 win over the Twins on April 22.
The Rays bullpen as a whole has looked good lately, following a rocky start. During the four-game series against Seattle, Rays relievers allowed only one run in 15 1/3 innings while striking out 16 and walking only one. J.P. Howell picked up the win Monday, and Peralta picked up the save Wednesday -- between two more from Fernando Rodney.
Over the Rays' last 11 games, the bullpen is 2-0 with six saves and a 1.32 ERA, yielding 21 hits and five walks with 42 strikeouts.
"It kind of is [contagious)]," McGee said. "When you see someone do well, you want to do well, too. I think we kind of step up to the moment a lot, especially in close games and being in the playoffs the last few years, and playing against a lot of the teams in the AL East helps out a lot, too."