The Tampa Bay Rays dropped their first game of their 10-game West Coast trip by a final score of 4-3. The loss combined with the Boston Red Sox 4-3 victory over the Chicago White Sox puts the Rays 3.5 games behind in the AL East. The loss to the A’s puts the Rays 0.5 games behind the A’s in the wild card standings.
The game was slow and frustrating like so many of the games in August as the Rays entered the top of the 8th inning trailing the Oakland A’s and Jarrod Parker by a score of 3-1. Parker has been one of the best pitchers in baseball in the month of August posting a 4-0 record and an ERA of 1.93 and he was pitching like he wasn’t going to allow another run.
He made 117 pitches his last time out and appeared to be gassed in the 8th. David Dejesus led off with a single and Ben Zobrist walked. Parker was lifted for Ryan Cook (6-3, 2.16 ERA) who gave up a bloop single to Evan Longoria which snapped a 0 for 18 slide to load the bases with nobody out.
Matt Joyce delivered a sacrifice fly to score Dejesus and bring James Loney to the plate. Loney had a prolonged at-bat that ended with a line drive to center that Chris Young dove for but was unable to make the grab as Zobrist came in to score the tying run.
The Rays had runners at 2nd and 3rd with 1-out but Desmond Jennings struck out and Kelly Johnson was called out on a strike that was a foot off the plate to end the rally. No, I’m not over exaggerating:
With the scored tied 3-3 David Price came out to work the bottom of the 8th and allowed a leadoff single to Coco Crisp. Joe Maddon went to his bullpen and got Joel Peralta who got a ground ball but Crisp was running on the pitch and avoided the double play and got himself into scoring position. Jed Lowrie drove in Crisp with to give the A’s a 4-3 lead.
Grant Balfour came in to work the bottom of the 9th one night after allowing four runs including a 3-run walk off home run to Torii Hunter of the Detroit Tigers. The bad Balfour didn’t show up tonight as he slammed the door on the Rays and picked up his 34th save on the season.
David Price (8-6, 3.30 ERA) made one mistake on the night. In the bottom of the 5th inning Alberto Callaspo reached base on Ben Zobrist first error in 81 games dating back to May 11th. After getting Chris Young down in the count 1-2 Price missed with his next 3 pitches to put runners at 1st and 2nd for the A’s hottest hitter Brandon Moss. Price fed him 7 straight fastballs and struck out for the first out in the inning and brought the Kurt Suzuki, the A’s #9 hitter, to the plate. Price threw an 89 mile an hour change up that Suzuki teed off on and deposited over the wall in left to take a 3-1 lead.