Close, but not enough.
Unfortunately this has been the case far too often for the 2009 version of the Tampa Bay Rays. A year after excelling as the cardiac/comeback kids, the Rays have not had the same luck in close games; tonight was a perfect example.
With the bases loaded and one out in the 7th inning, Carlos Pena was at the plate. After working the count even, Los smoked a line drive right down the first base line and into the glove of Kendry Morales. Evan Longoria was easily doubled off of first, inning over, rally killed. That ball would've found a hole last year.
The Rays did get a run back in the 8th inning as late inning lightning struck again. Ben Zobrist hit his 12 home run of the season, but it was too little too late. After a lead off walk to Joe Dillon in the 9th, Brian Fuentes got B.J. Upton to flyout for the first out. Upton argued after the at-bat and was tossed, but he really didn't have an argument. In a tell tale sign that the Rays just don't have the "magic" in 2009 Carl Crawford grounded into a game ending double play, his first gidp of the season.
The Rays got ok starting pitching from James Shields tonight. His defense let him down early on leading to two unearned runs in the first inning. Shields ended up going 6.1 innings allowing four runs (two earned) on 10 hits. He struckout three and walked none. Grant Balfour, Randy Choate and J.P. Howell combined to shut the Angels out over the final 2.2 IP, however it would not be enough as the Rays came up short once again and fell to 6-13 in one run games.
After ripping of a streak of six wins in seven games, the Rays have dropped three straight. They have lost two of the three games by one run and the other by two. The good news is Pat Burrell and Chad Bradford are on their way back and it seems Jason Bartlett and Scott Kazmir will follow after that. The bad news is in the jam packed AL East it may not be soon enough. I'm not saying it's time to panic or pack it in, but right now I'm watching an 88 win team which is still good, but not good enough this year.