For the third consecutive game the Rays were done in by the long ball. Following David Price and Matt Garza, who gave up multi run home runs early, Andy Sonnanstine did the same on Friday night. After a very easy 13 pitch first inning, Sonnanstine was taken out to the deepest part of
Shea Citi Field by Brian Schneider. It was Schneider's first home run of the season. After three innings the Rays would trail once again 4-0, but make a comeback and get within one run; sound familiar? It sounds all too familiar as the Rays have lost 20 of their 33 games by two runs or less.
After a six game win streak pushed them to a season high four games over .500, the Rays are now one game over the even mark thanks to a three game skid (all by two runs or less). The good news is the Rays have lost just one game in the standings to the Yankees, and are just four games back in the wildcard race. They've gotten some help from the Washington Nationals of all teams, who beat the Yankees two out of three games and took the first game from the Toronto Blue Jays last night.
Like Price and Garza before him, Sonnanstine pitched ok sans one inning in which most of the damage came. He gave up four runs on seven hits, two walks, while striking out five. He actually lowered his ERA from 6.65 to 6.60. It was a typical Sonnnastine start, which has simply been "eh" this season. With Scott Kazmir set to return next week, it looks like Sonny may be the odd man out.
I do not want to put the entire loss on Sonnanstine because he wasn't awful. After slamming the Rockies for 12 runs on Monday, the team has scored just three runs in each of the last three losses. Last night the 2 thru 5 of Carl Crawford, Evan Longoria, Carlos Pena and Ben Zobrist went a combined 0-13 with eight men left on base. One hit here or there and we have a different game.
A few hours after giving him the title of "low-leverage Ace," Lance Cormier was brought in to shut down the Mets in the seventh inning. He got the job done with the help of Dioner Navarro. However, after giving up a lead off hit in the eight inning he be lifted and his runner would later score off of J.P. Howell.
The marquee match up of the series is scheduled for this afternoon on Fox's national broadcast as James Shields is set to take on Johan Santana. Both pitchers are coming off of sub-par starts. Santana is coming of a career worst nine earned runs allowed. There is rain threatening this game, so if it does start on time, the Rays, not their opponents need to be the ones jumping out to an early lead. If not, that déjà-vu feeling will start to set back in.