The Rays dropped a very winnable rubber game of the series to Red Sox on Sunday Night Baseball. They had multiple chances to not only score runs, but to prevent them as well. I’m tired and annoyed so let’s get to it.
Matt Garza has been dominate against the Red Sox thus far in the season and we were hoping for that to continue. Garza did not have as great as an outing like his last one against the Sox (he did have a perfect game in the seventh) but pitched well enough to put the Rays in a position to win. He only gave up seven hits in seven innings and allowed three earned runs. It could have been only two but more on that later.
Evan Longoria has had good success against Josh Beckett but was kept in check tonight going 0-3 and drawing a walk. He did snap a streak of nine consecutive games with at least one strikeout.
What Went Right:
Coming into this game, Pat Burrell was hitting .393 with RISP and two outs. The Bat delivered again in the first inning scoring Carl Crawford with two down to give the Rays an early lead. However that would be his only contribution on the evening.
B.J. Upton had a great at bat in the fifth inning. With the Rays down 3-1 and two outs already in the inning, Upton worked an 0-2 count full and then doubled down the line on a healthy Beckett fastball. Crawford would single on the next pitch to score him and cut the lead to one. After that C.C. swiped his 22nd bag.
Then in the next inning, the Rays would load the bases for Jason Bartlett who came through with a sac fly to right. It was deep enough to not only score the run, but allow Ben Zobrist to tag from second to third. Productive outs makes us happy.
What Went Wrong:
The fourth inning. Garza started well getting the first two men out. Then he fell behind on Jeff Bailey 2-0 and gave up a double. Next pitch, an RBI double by Jason Varitek. Yes, that’s a pair of doubles from a pair of .200 hitters. Then to make matters worse, Nick Green hits a shallow fly ball to right that lands softly between Akinori Iwamura and Zobrist to allow Varitek to score. Benzo still has to work on that outfielder’s mentality that any ball within reach is yours.
The bullpen struggled in the eighth as Brian Shouse gave up a double to David Ortiz, and then Dan Wheeler (who is coming off an outing in which he gave up the game-tying homer to Johnny Damon) gave up another double to Jason Bay right after. Wheeler would settle down and get out of the inning but the damage was done.
The ninth inning is what really made the game unbearable. With runners on the corners and no outs, it looked as if the Rays had an answer for another great closer (Zobrist’s homer off Joe Nathan, C.C. and Longo going back-to-back off Mariano Rivera). MLB homerun leader Carlos Pena would pinch hit then strikeout after running the count to 3-1. B.J. Upton was blown away once again and C.C. chased three pitches out of the zone to end the game.
The Rays finally have an off day tomorrow and then travel to Baltimore for another two-game series. Tuesday’s game should be an epic pitching matchup as Andy Sonnanstine (1-3, 5.79) will face former Devil Ray Mark Hendrickson (1-4, 5.13). The split would almost feel like a series loss as the Rays need to start stringing series wins together.