The Tampa Bay Rays were swept away by the Oakland Athletics losing 5-1 in the finale. It was the Rays 4th consecutive loss and 7th loss in their last 8 games. They fall 5.5 games behind the Boston Red Sox in the AL East race, are 2.5 games behind the Oakland A’s for the top wild card spot, and are only 3 games ahead of the Baltimore Orioles for the final wild card spot.
What a difference a week can make. One week ago the Rays were looking to sweep the New York Yankees and win their 9th game in 11 days. They entered the day percentage points ahead of the Boston Red Sox for the AL East lead and held a 2.5 game lead over the Oakland Athletics for the top wild card spot.
It’s been a frustrating week for the Rays but nothing that doesn’t hit most teams during a season:
Things like this happen over a major league season. You have to fight thru it and believe in your guys. I do.
Rather than go with Roberto Hernandez to make his normal start Joe Maddon went with a bullpen day starting right hander Jamey Wright. Coco Crisp greeted him with a solo home run to begin the game and the A’s proceeded to load the bases but Wright got a double play ball to escape further damage.
With 2-out in the 2nd inning Alex Torres came in to the game. Torres worked 3.1 innings and gave up just 1 unearned run in the bottom of the 3rd inning. The Rays never regained the lead and Torres took his first loss of the year to fall to 4-1 with a 1.31 ERA.
Thanks to a solo home run by James Loney the Rays had just tied the score at 1-1. Jed Lowrie laid down a bunt that Evan Longoria threw wildly to first and Lowrie raced around to 3rd. The official scorer ruled a hit and an error but it should have been 2 errors on Longoria. Brandon Moss followed with a single to drive in Lowrie and give the A’s the 2-1 lead.
The rest of the game the Rays were held in check by A.J. Griffin (12-9, 3.84 ERA) who seemed to continue to the Rays frustration by throwing a steady diet of off-speed pitches.
When the Rays did catch a break, like a David Dejesus lost in sun double, they were unable to score. In what has been a repeated them during this losing streak the Rays were unable to hit with runners in scoring position going 1 for 7.
The only hit came off the bat of Desmond Jennings with 2-outs in the top of the 7th inning and the Rays trailing 2-1. Wil Myers had just doubled and Jennings lined a single to Yoenis Cespedes who fired to the cut off man who easily threw out Myers at home plate.
The play seemed to kill any momentum and in the bottom of the 7th the A’s extended their lead to 3-1 on Stephen Vogt homer that came on the 11th pitch of the at-bat.
The Rays looked like they may get the run right back in the top of the 8th. Kelly Johnson, pinch hitting for Jose Molina, doubled to begin the inning but was left stranded. Luke Scott pinch hit for Yunel Escobar and struck out, Delmon Young pinch hit for David Dejesus and flew out to right, and Ben Zobrist flew out to right to end the inning.
With the Rays trailing 3-1 Joe Maddon elected to stick with Josh Lueke who had retired the last hitter in the bottom of the 7th. He opened the 8th by walking Brandon Moss and allowing a single to Yoenis Cespedes. He struck out Alberto Callaspo to get the first out and with two left handers due up Maddon went to his pen again.
Despite having what Joe Maddon has referred to time and time again this season as the best left handed reliever in the game in Joel Peralta (holding LHB to a .169 average) he decided to go to seldom used lefty Cesar Ramos.