When recapping the series finale against the Mets on Thursday I described the game as 'possibly the most frustrating game of the season thus far'. Last night's 15-inning marathon definitely had it beat.
James Shields brought his A-game last night in front of over 22,000 fans, throwing 7 2/3 strong innings without allowing an earned run. Although Shields pitched very well, the Rays' defense was the polar opposite. Three huge errors cost Tampa the game, and snapped the Rays' eight-game winning streak against their interstate rivals.
The Marlins struck first in this ballgame, taking a 1-0 lead on a throwing error by third baseman Sean Rodriguez (what's new?) scoring Jose Reyes.
In the second inning, Reyes extended the Marlins' lead to 2-0 with with a two-out RBI single. A very rare dropped fly ball by Matt Joyce allowed that run to score.
The Rays would finally get on the board in the bottom of the third, as Jose Molina singled home Elliot Johnson who had a triple to start the inning. Molina's base hit would start probably his best offensive performance of the season.
Molina's big night continued, as he cut the Marlins' lead to one with a solo shot in the bottom of the fifth. Then in the bottom of the seventh, the Rays tied up the game with an RBI triple from S-Rod.
Both bullpens were absolutely tremendous, as they carried their respective teams deep into extra innings. The 'pens combined for just a single earned run and 14 strikeouts through 16 excellent innings of work.
Unfortunately, the Rays gave in first as the Marlins broke through in the top of the 15th with an RBI triple off the bat of Scott Cousins against reliever Brandon Gomes. Heath Bell came in to close out the game in the bottom half of the inning, and got the job done retiring three straight Rays batters.
Besides the sloppy defense, of course, offense was the other week point for the Rays in this ballgame. They managed just nine hits in 15 innings and left 18 men on base. However, there's only so much production you can get when two of the biggest bats in the lineup (Evan Longoria and Luke Scott) are out.
This is one tough day of Rays baseball that the Rays Republic needs to forget. To make make matters worse, the Rays fell in the standings yesterday as the rest of the AL East won their games Saturday. The Yankees won their eight straight yesterday, beating the Nationals in DC 5-3 in 14 innings thanks to some of the worst managing I've ever seen in my life and this missed call which lost the Nats the game:
New York is now 3.5 games up on the Rays. The O's gain as well and are now two games up on Tampa, as former Ray Jason Hammel twirled a one-hitter against the Braves.
Notable Stat Lines:
- J. Shields: 3 R (0 earned), 8 hits, 5 K, BB through 7.2 IP. ERA now 3.72
- Rays' bullpen (Peralta, Rodney, McGee, Davis, Badenhop, Gomes): 1 ER, 5 H, 8 K, 3 BB through 7.1 IP
- C. Pena: 2-4, R
- E. Johnson: 2-6, R, E6
- J. Molina: 2-4, 2 RBI, R
- Click here for a full boxscore
Rays News and Notes:
- Elliot Johnson and Sean Rodriguez both recorded their eighth error of the season.
- There were four triples in this game.
- Evan Longoria went 1-4 as the DH for Triple-A Durham last night in his first rehab game. Longo will play third for the Bulls today.
- Jeff Keppinger was off last night, but will continue his rehab assignment with the Bulls today and likely play the field as well.
- Sam Fuld (wrist) is recovering from his surgery and has taken swings off a tee for the last couple of days. He could begin his rehab assignment in early July.
- Alex Cobb will take the hill against Josh Johnson in the Citrus Series finale today; first pitch at 1:40 ET. The Rays will travel to Washington for a three-game set against the Nationals after an off-day tomorrow.