Josh Lueke The Weak Link In An Otherwise Impressive Bullpen Performance
The Tampa Bay Rays (10-11) dropped an extra inning affair with the Minnesota Twins (10-10) by a final score of 6-4. Josh Lueke (0-1, 4.38 ERA) takes the loss for the Rays. Casey Fien (3-0, 3.00 ERA) picks up the win for the Twins while Glen Perkins picks up his fourth save on the season.
The Rays bullpen was asked to go extra distance once again as Jake Odorizzi was unable to make it out of the fourth inning. Trailing 4-2 after the fourth inning but the Rays bullpen quieted the Twins bats and gave the offense a chance to tie the game up. Brandon Gomes followed Odorizzi to the mound and allowed one inherited runner to score but did not allow an earned run in his 1.2 innings . Heath Bell , Jake McGee, and Joel Peralta, each delivered an inning and Grant Balfour worked two scoreless innings.
After ten innings the Rays bullpen was down to just Josh Lueke and Juan Carlos Oviedo and Joe Maddon turned to Lueke first. After working around a one out double in the top of the 11th inning he was unable to escape a jam in the top of the twelfth.
Joe Mauer led off with a chopper that got over Luekes head for an infield single. Trevor Plouffe followed with a double to move Mauer up to third. Colabello followed with a two-strike single back up the middle to plate both Mauer and Plouffe and give the Twins the 6-4 lead. Glen Perkins came in and retired the Rays in the bottom of the twelfth to pick up the save.
The maturation of Jake Odorizzi as a major league starting pitcher is still a work in progress. As with most young pitchers Odorizzi is trying to make the adjustment to the second and third time through the batting order.
In his three starts entering today he has held the opposition to a .083 average (2 for 24) but the second time through the opposition is hitting .375 (9 for 24), and the third time through they are hitting .500 (7 for 14).
The first time through the lineup tonight he held the Twins to 1 for 9 and struck out five batters in succession. The second time through the lineup was a disaster as he faced eight batters and the Twins were 0-1 with a pair of singles, a home run, three walks, and a sacrifice fly.
He took the mound in the top of the fourth after Matt Joyce had delivered his second RBI of the night in the bottom of the third to give him a two run cushion entering the fourth inning and the Twins middle of the order due up for the second time of the game.
As has been the problem this season he faced six batters and only retired one before giving up the lead and exiting the game. Trevor Plouffe walked to lead off the inning and came home on a 2-run homer by Chris Colabello. The Twins bats remained hot as Jason Kubel and Josmil Pinto followed the Colabello homer with back to back singles and Chris Herrmann drew a walk to load the bases. Eduardo Escobar delivered a sacrifice fly that scored Kubel and gave the Twins the 3-2 lead. Brandon Gomes came in and gave up a single to Sam Fuld that scored Pinto and pushed the Twins lead to 4-2.
Gomes held the Twins off the board in the top of the fifth inning and the Rays pushed a run across in the bottom half of the inning thanks to a 2-out rally. Desmond Jennings started the rally and raced to third on a double by Matt Joyce. Evan Longoria sent an infield chopper to third baseman Trevor Plouffe who made a nice barehanded grab but was unable to make an accurate throw and Jennings crossed home plate to cut the Twins lead to 4-3.
After Heath Bell retired the Twins in order in the top half of the sixth inning the Rays mounted another rally in their half of the inning.
Ron Gardenhire played the role of Joe Maddon using four pitchers in one inning to hold the Rays to just a single run. Mike Pelfrey began the inning but was lifted after he allowed a lead off single to Wil Myers and then hit Logan Forsythe.
Michael Tonkin came in to face Yunel Escobar who laid down a sacrifice bunt to advance Myers and Forythe into scoring position for Ryan Hanigan who drew a walk to load the bases for Ben Zobrist. With the bases loaded Caleb Thielbar came and Zobrist delivered a sacrifice fly to tie the game at 4-4.
The Twins answered with a two out rally of their own in the top of the eighth inning off Joel Peralta. Osmil Pinto drew a walk and advanced to third on a single by Chris Herrmann single. Eduardo Escobar was unable to get the key two out hit as he grounded out to Yunel Escobar who stepped on second for the force out to end the inning.
Sam Fuld led off the top of the ninth inning with a double past James Loney who was hugging the first base line and advanced to third on a Brian Dozier ground out. Joe Maddon elected to walk Joe Mauer. The move paid off as Balfour got Trevor Plouffe to ground to Yunel Escobar who shoveled to Ben Zobrist to retire Mauer and fire a bullet to James Loney to just nail Plouffe at first for the inning ending double play.
In the bottom of the ninth the Rays had an opportunity to walk off with the victory against Brian Duensing. With one-out Desmond Jennings singled and moved to second on a Sean Rodriguez pinch hits single but Evan Longoria flew out. Both runners moved up on a wild pitch and James Loney walked to load the bases for Wil Myers. Ron Gardenhire went back to his pen and brought in Casey Fien who got Myers to ground out to end the inning.
Josh Lueke came in to work the top of the 11th and gave up a one out double to Eduardo Escobar but was able to get out of trouble by striking out Sam Fuld and getting Brian Dozier to ground out to short to end the inning.
His luck ran out in the 12th inning. Joe Mauer led off with a chopper that got over Luekes head for an infield single. Trevor Plouffe followed with a double to move Mauer up to third. Colabello followed with a two-strike single back up the middle to plate both Mauer and Plouffe and give the Twins the 6-4 lead.
Glen Perkins came in and retired the Rays in the bottom of the twelfth to pick up the save.