It appeared up until this series that the Rays were 'bending', but not 'breaking', from their numerous injuries. The Rays may have just broke right here.
The Kanas City Royals completed their three-game sweep of the short-handed Rays today, capping another frustrating day of Rays baseball.
Matt Moore did not have one of his sharpest outings, as the Royals set their long-ball tone early in this one. Mike Moustakas gave KC a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the first with a solo homer to deep center.
With a man on third and just one out, the Rays were close to responding in the second against Kansas City starter Everett Teaford. But when Sean Rodriguez hit a groundball right back to the shortstop, Ben Zobrist was caught in a pickle between home and third, and was eventually thrown out at the plate.
Then in the third, another solo shot—this time off the bat of Alcides Escobar—extended the Royals' lead to two.
Things started to unravel in the fifth inning, as a huge mental error by Moore essentially changed the complexion of the game. Moore walked speedster Jason Bourgeois—a weak hitter with very little power—to start the inning. Following a double to the next batter, the Rays were forced to bring in the infield with runners at second and third with nobody out.
Moore struck out the next batter to record the first out of the inning, but disaster followed. Yuniesky Betancourt took full advantage of the Rays pulled-in infield, chopping a slow two-run single over the third baseman's head into left field.
Now down 4-0, the Rays started to chip away. They finally scored their first run of the game in the sixth, when Jeff Keppinger singled home a B.J. Upton to cut the deficit to three. Later in the inning, following a rally-killing Brooks Conrad double play, Zobrist continued his busy day by driving home the Rays' second run with an RBI single. He would then end the inning trying to swipe second.
In the eighth, Zobrist struck again with a game-tying two-RBI triple into the right field corner. With a runner at third and one out, they Rays failed to take the lead, as Zobrist was thrown out at home on a fielder's choice for the second time in the game. It was amazingly the third time Zobrist was caught on the base paths in the game, and only worse news would follow in the bottom half of the inning.
Burke Badenhop entered the game with one out and nobody on in the eighth inning. Billy Butler was the first batter he faced, and he greeted him with a solo blast over the left field wall.
The run would be enough for the Royals, as Jonathan Broxton came in to close out the 5-4 game in the ninth.
The Rays fall to 40-35 on the season, and continue to take huge blows in the division. They are now a scary 6.5 games behind the Yankees, who hung on to win their fifth straight today. Boston also stayed hot, winning their game, and moving into a third-place tie with the Rays. The Rays are temporarily two games behind Baltimore, who play later tonight.
Notable Stat Lines:
- M. Moore: 10 H, 4 ER, 5 K, 2 BB through 7.1 IP. ERA now 4.19.
- J. Keppinger: 1-3, R, RBI, BB
- B. Zobrist: 3-4, 3 RBI, CS
- D. Jennings: 3-4, SB (12)
- Click here for full boxscore
Rays News and Notes:
- The Yankees were hit by two huge injuries today. They lost a pair southpaws who have been carrying the team as of late: C.C. Sabathia and Andy Pettitte. Sabathia's injury is less serious, a mild groin strain that will only force him to miss two starts. Pettitte, on the other hand, will miss at least six weeks due to the ankle that he fractured in today's game. The Rays hope they can use this opportunity to climb back atop the division.
- Luke Scott (back) will return from the DL tomorrow and likely be in the Rays night tomorrow in the series opener against Detroit.
- Kyle Farnsworth (elbow) was reportedly sharp in his minor league rehab outing with Triple-A Durham the other night, and could rejoin the Rays as early as Saturday (possibly along with Jeremy Hellickson).
- Download the official Tampa Bay Rays browser theme today! Users can enter for a chance to win an authentic 2012 All-Star Game jersey with a Rays All-Star of their choice.
- The Rays really need to turn it around, and hope they can do so as they return home for a four-game set against the Tigers. James Shields (7-4, 3.99) will take on Max Scherzer (6-5, 5.12) to kick off the series; 7:10 ET first pitch.