Before recapping Tuesday night's game, I would like to send my best wishes to Blue Jays starter J.A. Happ who was hit very hard by a Desmond Jennings line drive in the second inning of Tuesday night's game. He was carted off the field on a stretcher and hospitalized.
The head injury—which appears to be in his left ear area—was a very frightening scene for all in attendance at Tropicana Field. There hasn't been an update on his condition yet, but we hope it's not as severe as it looked and sounded.
On the mound for the Rays was Roberto Hernadez, who had what was probably his best outing of the season. The only run he allowed was an Adam Lind home run in the top of the second. Besides a few bad pitches, Hernandez was sharp all night. His groundball-to-flyout ratio was only 7-3, but he did a real nice job of getting whiffs. He finished the night with a line of 1 ER, 5 H, 1 BB, 7 K over 6 IP (103 pitches, 69 strikes).
Down 1-0, the Rays broke out for a big four-run inning in the bottom half of the second. For the second straight night, the Rays scored all of their runs in a single inning.
Two base hits put runners at first and third to start things off. Jose Molina then bunted a ball to first baseman Edwin Encarnacion, who fired home for the tag out at the plate.
Although the throw beat Sean Rodriguez, he was able to slide under the glove of catcher J.P. Arencibia and clearly touched home plate before being tagged. Umpire Marty Foster claimed that Rodriguez never made contact with the plate, but it was clear that he was wrong after looking at the dirt marks across the plate and video replay. Foster's terrible call eventually resulted in Joe Maddon's ejection.
The missed call would ultimately cost the Rays dearly in this game, not just because of the run(s) they potentially lost, but also because of the questionable decisions made later in the game by bench coach Dave Martinez, who took over managerial duties because of the ejection.
Back to the action, a wild pitch would tie the game up at 1-1, and then a two-run triple by Desmond Jennings (the hit that was lined of Happ's head) two batters later gave the Rays the lead. After long reliever Brad Lincoln replaced Happ, Ryan Roberts knocked the fourth run of the inning with an RBI single. Roberts would then be caught stealing second, which stifled the rally.
Skipping to the top of the seventh, Jake McGee entered the game for the Rays trying to maintain the 4-1 lead. After giving up a leadoff double to Adam Lind, McGee decided to go with two straight sliders against the left-handed hitting Colby Rasmus. The second one was a 87 MPH slider right down the middle which Rasmus belted for a two-run blast to right-center.
In the eighth, Dave Martinez for some reason decided to put in Kyle Farnsworth instead of setup man Joel Peralta with a tight 4-3 lead. Farnsworth was hit hard, allowing two consecutive doubles to Melky Cabrera and Jose Bautista to begin the inning. Later, with runners at the corners and one out, Cesar Ramos came on in to get an inning-ending double play, keeping the score tied at 4-4.
In the top of the ninth, Martinez made another head-scratching decision with the bullpen. Instead of doing the conventional thing and having closer Fernando Rodney pitch with the score tied in the ninth at home, he now went with Joel Peralta.
Peralta, who is maybe the Rays' most reliable reliever right now, looked just as bad as Farnsworth and McGee. He served up a go-ahead solo dinger to Maicer Izturis and then an RBI double off the bat of Melky Cabrera.
Tampa Bay went down 1-2-3 in the bottom of the ninth against closer Casey Janssen and lost the ballgame by a final score of 6-4. They're now 14-18.
So what's there to be said about the Rays's struggling bullpen? It's simply painful to watch the team play right now. Hopefully it's just a slump that the 'pen is going through like the offense did during April.
There definitely is a bright side, however, as numbers signal that the bullpen won't stay this lousy.
The Rays will try to shake off a disappointing first two games of the 10-game homestand tonight at 7:10 ET for Game 3 of the four-game set against Toronto. Matt Moore (5-0, 1.95 ERA) will go for his sixth win of the season versus lefty Ricky Romero (0-1, 6.75 ERA).
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