I feel like I just wrote a Tank agreeing with Steve that the problem with the Rays thus far this year is "the team tak[ing] a lead early on in the game, but the pitching staff then hand[ing] the lead right away."
Oh wait, I did.
Things haven't changed in a week, with defensive miscues adding to the problem last night. For the 12th time in 17 losses, the Rays gave up the lead; and also gave up eight unanswered runs to the Blue Jays in their 8-7 loss.
If it felt epically bad, that's because it was: it was the Rays largest blown lead in a loss ever at Tropicana Field, and their biggest overall since a 10-0 lead resulted in an 11-10 loss in Cleveland on May 25th, 2009.
Danny struggled to sum up the game in a few words, and instead gave a detailed inning-by-inning recap as things went from good to bad to worse to sad to Kenny Loggins.
So, since it's a much shorter list: What went right?
The offense is still hanging around. The Rays had a seven-run third inning, which included an Evan Longoria grand slam and a two-run homer by Luke Scott. Kelly Johnson had three hits on the night, while James Loney continued his hot hitting and ended the night at .399. Also, all four lefties in the starting lineup got hits off of left-hander Mark Buehrle.
That was about it. What went wrong?
Jeremy Hellickson struggled. He only pitched five innings, giving up six hits, three runs, and four walks. All the runs came after the Rays had provided him with a seven-run cushion. The short outing meant heavily relying on the bullpen for the last few innings...
The bullpen. Last year the Rays led the majors with a 3.19 bullpen ERA. Right now? A 4.80 bullpen ERA, 28th in the majors. No lead feels safe. Last night, they combined to give up six hits and five runs over four innings. Fernando Rodney was brought in for a five-out save, something he had yet to do this year, and that he only did twice last year. The SweetSpot questioned Maddon's usage of Rodney, and with the way things ended, I can't help but wonder. He's now given up six earned runs in 10 2/3 innings this year, after giving up a total of five earned runs in 74 2/3 last year.
Yunel Escobar and Jose Molina's errors. After watching Escobar in the eighth knock a J.P. Arencibia single off the top of his glove, then nix the chance of a double play by booting a Melky Cabrera grounder, the question can be raised over whether Escobar is really 100% post his injury on Saturday -- aka, why was he playing? Molina made a throwing error in the ninth that put the tying run at third with no outs, which lined up well for Arencibia's go-ahead homer three batters later.
Last night was messy. It was hard to watch. Hopefully it's not the game that turns the Blue Jays season around...
Only 131 games left.
- We should all be rooting against the Tigers.