The best day of Wil Myers' young professional career ended on a sour note as the Rays blew a lead late in Saturday's loss to the Yankees. Starting in the DH spot, Myers went 3-4 and added his first big league home run, a grand slam to right-center off C.C. Sabathia that gave the Rays a 5-3 lead. Sadly, the bullpen gave up the lead which has become a disheartening trend this season.
Let's start at the top. Alex Colome didn't have a great outing. He didn't give up an earned run, but lasted just 4.1 innings and walked five. The three runs he did give up were unearned thanks to him dropping a throw at first inning and James Loney's inability to make an accurate throw to second base. Had Loney made a clean throw to first, a double play would likely have been turned, ending the inning. Instead, a walk to Lyle Overbay loaded the bases and another walk to Zolio Almonte gave the Yankees a 3-1 lead and ended Colome's day. As he's done all season, Alex Torres came in and cleaned up the mess left in front of him. He struck out the next two batters to keep the deficit at two. He'd work a perfect sixth inning as well. He's now thrown 20 innings on the season with 27 strikeouts, five walks and zero runs allowed.
The Rays lead off the sixth inning with a walk by Sam Fuld and double from Desmond Jennings, setting the table for the 2-3-4 hitters. Sean Rodriguez struck out and Ben Zobrist popped out to first, leaving Evan Longoria to be the hero. Instead, the Yankees intentionally walked Longoria -- who homered in the second inning -- to face rookie Wil Myers. Sabathia challenged him with fastballs and Myers delivered, lifting a fly ball that fell just out of the reach of center fielder Brett Gardner. As I mentioned earlier, the lead would be for not.
Joe Maddon brought in the usually reliable Joel Peralta an inning earlier than usual, having him face the Yankees' 3-4-5 hitters. Peralta has been the Rays' best reliever this season and has reverse splits (.501 OPS vs LHH), which gave him the edge against the three left handed hitters he was due to face. Instead, he walked Robinson Cano and after a flyout by Travis Hafner gave up a double to Lyle Overbay. Almonte, another lefty, came to the plate and was also walked, ending Peralta's day. Jake McGee entered the game and struck out Jayson Nix, but gave up a walk to David Adams and a bases clearing double to pinch-hitter Vernon Wells. It looked as though Adams should have been called out on strikes at least once in the at bat.
The fourth pitch in the chart was out of the zone, but certainly not anymore than some other pitches that were called strikes, including nearly everything Mariano Rivera threw.
The loss, coupled with the Blue Jays 10th win in a row, drops the team into last place in the division, though still one game over .500. No other division in baseball has more than three teams over .500.