It was another agonizing loss for the Rays Wednesday. The bullpen continues to let down the rest of the team, as Fernando Rodney's fourth blown save squandered a ninth inning lead for the Rays in yesterday's game. It was the ninth time this season that the Rays gave up a lead in the seventh inning or later.
Jeremy Hellickson was an encouraging sign from this game, turning in his best start of the year. Hellboy went eight innings (106 pitches) deep, allowing just two runs on four hits, only one walk and four strikeouts.
Hellickson's first inning struggles continued in this ballgame, however, as the Blue Jays bats struck first. Jose Bautista began what would be a huge day with an RBI double to start the scoring, giving Toronto an early 1-0 advantage.
After a slow start, the Rays' bats would get things going in the top of the third versus southpaw Mark Buehrle. A Ryan Roberts knubber that skipped past second baseman Maicer Izturis tied the game at 1-1. Ben Zobrist followed with a go-ahead line drive single.
In the fourth, a big baserunning miscue by Sean Rodriguez would cost the Rays. After a leadoff double, Rodriguez managed to get picked off second, killing both a rally and Tampa's momentum.
While Hellickson appeared to be settling in nicely, he would add one more blemish to his strong outing as Joey Bats came through once again. Bautista destroyed a misplaced changeup for a moonshot solo homer, tying the game back up at 2-2.
Skipping to the ninth, the Rays' lineup continued to give Blue Jays closer Casey Janssen troubles. An Evan Longoria double and then a James Loney RBI single gave them the late 3-2 lead.
It was then up to Fernando Rodney to seal the series victory, but he unfortunately would have the challenge of facing the meat of the Blue Jays order. Jose Bautista started things off with a hard-fought at bat, eventually prevailing to take Rodney yard for a game-tying long ball.
In the bottom of the tenth, Cesar Ramos took over on the hill for the Rays. Colby Rasmus leadoff bunt single would prove to be the difference in this game. Ramos would retire the next to batters after that, but would walk pinch-hitter Mark DeRosa to put two men on base for none other than....yup, Jose Bautista.
Kyle Farnsworth was brought in to face the always-dangerous slugger. Farnsworth quickly jumped ahead of Bautista 0-2, but was simply outdone by some great pure hitting on Bautista's part. The pitch was actually a good one; a 96 MPH fastball low and away (wide of the strikezone). Bautista however, having a ridiculous game, poked it for a walk-0ff single.
Bautista finished the game 4-4 with a pair of homers, reaching base five times and knocking in all four runs for Toronto.
The Rays, now 24-22, are off today before facing the Yankees at home this weekend for a key three-game set. Roberto Hernandez (2-4, 5.24 ERA) will square off against right-hander David Phelps (2-2, 3.83 ERA); first pitch 7:10 ET Friday night.
Rays News and Notes:
- This series defeat to the Blue Jays ends the Rays' 15-series streak of not losing a series against Toronto. The streak was the longest active in the MLB.
- Evan Longoria (1-3, BB) extended his hitting streak to 16 games.
- Jose Molina (hamstring tightness) returned to the lineup Wednesday, continuing his hot-hitting ways going 2-4 with a run.
- Joe Maddon took advantage of today's offday to shuffle up the rotation a bit. Instead of having the less-experienced Jake Odorizzi pitch in the crucial matchup against New York Sunday, Alex Cobb will get the start and Odorizzi will be pushed to Monday.
- Matt Joyce (hamstring tightness) feels good and expects to start Friday.
- Rays minor leaguer Angel Yepez was suspended 50 games for testing positive for PEDs.
- David Price is improving well without any setbacks, but it looks like he'll miss at least three starts as he won't return right when he's eligible to come off the DL on May 31. He'll likely be pitching one rehab start.
- Evan Longoria told the Tampa Bay Times that his legs felt tired early in the season.