I don't know what is worse; the perfect game? Or coming back from a 4-0 deficit only to lose on a walk-off in extra-innings? Neither felt good, and the first three-game losing streak of 2010 doesn't either.
Ben Zobrist ended any thoughts of a perfect game early on with a first inning single. It was the first time a Tampa Bay batter had reached base since the seventh inning of Saturday's game. The Rays would have plenty of base-runners early on, but were not able to "get the man in."
On the other side, the Angels were able to score their first run off of a fluke infield single that bounced off the first base bag, then Erick Aybar going first to third after the night's centerfielder, Sean Rodriguez, gunned him down by three feet, only to have Evan Longoria lose the ball. He would score on a sac-fly to put the Angels up 1-0.
With B.J. Upton back home for the birth of his first child, we saw some strange defensive alignments. Rodriguez started in center, but Zobrist would finish there after starting in right. Willy Aybar would take over at second base with Reid Brignac moving to right field for the first time in his major league career. Back to the game...
The Angels would get four runs on Matt Garza including the next three off two home runs. However, outside of those mistakes, Garza delivered another solid start. He worked deep into the game (7.2 IP) again and walked only one batter while striking out seven.
Not surprising, Garza led with his mid 90s fastball. Of the 117 pitches thrown on the evening, 77 of them were some form of the fastball. Garza did throw his fair share of sliders, and got six whiffs on 23 sliders (29%) on his way to 12 swings and misses total. A good effort sans for the two pitches left over the middle that went yard.
For most of the game it felt like the Rays might never score again. After some missed opportunities against Angels' starter, Joel Pineiro, the boys finally scored a run off a John Jaso single in the eight inning. It was one of three Jaso hits on the evening. He would have a chance to be the hero in the 9th, but just didn't have a fourth hit in him on this evening.
Willy Aybar would come off the bench as a pinch-hitter in the seventh inning and add a solo-home run in the 9th inning. Jaso and Aybar everyday? Considering their competition at their respective positions, I don't see why not. A two-run double by Evan Longoria off Brian Fuentes would complete the comeback tying the game at 4-4. The Rays pounded out 12 hits, which was nice, but would never really put up a threat in extras.
A single, a sac-bunt, a wild pitch, and a sac-fly a.k.a "Angels ball" would take us home in the 11th giving Los Angeles a 5-4 victory and adding fuel to the haters bonfire. It's ok, brush them off your shoulders.
Despite the loss, the Rays remain in first place, and stand a 4-3 after seven games on the road trip. A win in tonight's game and/or the next would be greatly appreciated considering the weirdness of the last few days. It was going to happen at some point, and we all knew it. This is really the Rays first bump in the road and it's coming in mid-May during a long west coast trip.
That said, I'm encouraged by the offense's late inning surge, and another good effort from our starter. There were a lot of hard hit balls that didn't fall for us and ones that did for them. Baseball is filled with ups and downs. Let's hope the down part ends tonight.