Like many of you, I fell asleep last night with the Rays beating the Dodgers 6-1 and Jake McGee taking the hill for the eighth inning. The game was basically over. Price had been dominant again, the offense had swarmed for a half dozen points and the Los Angeles Dodgers looked nothing like the hottest team in baseball. The Red Sox had already lost to the Kansas City Royals and the Rays were looking at pulling within one game of the AL East title; Sweet dreams.
Then we woke up.
When my wife woke me up this morning the first thing she said to me was, "The Rays lost."
I groaned and told her she was funny, but her response ("No, really!") jolted me awake and sent me reaching for my phone to fire up MLB At Bat.
Inexplicably, Fernando Rodney had filled our slumber with nightmares and the Dodgers had rallied back from a five run deficit to stun the Rays 7-6. Rodney capped a three extra base hit, four run inning with the ugliest of throwing errors that sent Adrian Gonzalez scampering home for a damn near impossible win. For Rodney, it was his American League leading seventh blown save, for the Rays it was their third straight loss, and for the Dodgers, it was just another day at the ball park for the hottest team in baseball.
The challenge for Tampa Bay would be to shake it off; To not let a closer's misgivings bleed into another day.
Joe Maddon said it was the kind of game that they would throw in the waste bin and move forward from. But is it really that easy? I didn't even see the ending of it, but it still bothered me throughout the morning sojourn to Starbucks and Target. It has to play on the mind of those that lived it. As the afternoon rolled around I was sharing disbelief with my father in law over the loss, a result that came to a shock as him in the same way it did me after he fell asleep with the Rays leading 6-0.
But that's the beautiful thing about baseball: you always get to play the next day. There is always an immediate chance for redemption.
Unfortunately, Saturday would not be that day as The Los Angeles Dodgers took game two in much easier fashion, defeating the Tampa Bay Rays 5-0.
Call it what you will, or blame who you like, but the Rays looked like a team playing shell shocked. Of course, Zack Greinke was dominant and Roberto Hernandez was atrocious, but I couldn't help but feel like I was watching a team try and play baseball in quicksand. The malaise was hard to ignore, and the results hard to watch.
Hernandez wasted no time traumatizing fans, surrendering a two run home run in the bottom of the first inning to last nights hero, Adrian Gonzalez. From there he would get himself into and out of what seemed like a jam every inning until exiting for Jamey Wright in the fourth inning, but not before allowing two more Dodgers to cross the plate and giving the offense a big hole to crawl out from.
For their part, the hitters did no climbing. The few rallies the Rays did start were quickly squashed by Greinke who lasted six and a third, scattered six hits and struck out seven. All-world rookie Wil Myers went 0-4, snapping a 22-game streak of reaching base safely. Evan Longoria finished 1-3 with a double while Yunel Escobar, James Loney and Kelly Johnson all went hitless. Things even got so bad at one point that third base coach Tom Foley was ejected for arguing balls and strikes. If it wasn't for a back-yard-style hidden ball trick, the Rays fans would have had nothing at all to cheer about.
By late afternoon, the Rays had done nothing to shake the defeat of Friday night. Instead, they found themselves having to throw a fourth straight loss in the waste bin, and with it back-to-back series defeats. For a team that spoiled fans by not losing a series in over a month, it's a feeling we had somewhat come to forget.
But this is baseball, where despite all the bad there is a game again tomorrow; a second (or in this case fourth) chance for redemption.
Unfortunately for the Rays, Clayton Kershaw looms.