I know this game occurred on Memorial Day, but it feels a lot like groundhog day around here. The Rays got decent pitching, but could not put together enough runs for a win. After being no-hit for the first 5.2 innings, the team would put up two runs in the eighth inning, and seemed primed to tie the game in the ninth. However, like many times this month, they would fall short in Toronto.
In a similar sight from the past few days, the Rays fell behind early on some shaky starting pitching. Matt Garza allowed a two-run blast off the bat of Adam Lind in the first to put the Rays in an early hole. Credit to Garza because after that first inning he did pretty well against the home run happy Blue Jays.
With the Jays sitting dead-red on four-seam fastballs, Garza did a nice job of mixing in his two-seam fastball and a decent amount of sliders. He threw 65 cumulative fastballs - 26 of them were sinking two-seamers. He also threw 23 sliders which helped keep Toronto's hitters honest. He allowed 10 hits overall, but just one run after the first inning.
Unfortunately for the Rays, the fifth inning run allowed by Garza would be the deciding score in the game.
The Rays offense was held in check this evening by Brandon Morrow. Over the past month, we've probably written a similar sentenced 10-15 times and just changed the opposing pitcher's name. The Rays got on-base a few times early on, but were wiped out quickly each time. Morrow walked two batters in the first six innings, but erased them on double plays. When he finally allowed an infield hit to Sean Rodriguez in the sixth, Rodriguez was picked off by catcher, Jose Molina.
The offense would get something going in the eighth inning when John Jaso singled to lead-off the frame. B.J. Upton would lace an opposite-field triple to drive Jaso in. Upton would then score on a Willy Aybar fielder's choice. With Jason Bartlett out of the line-up, the pitch-hitting Aybar remained in the game at second base. This gave the Rays a middle infield of Aybar at second and Rodriguez at shortstop. I never thought I'd see that combination up the middle.
In the ninth inning, Evan Longoria hit a one-out triple, putting the tying run 90-feet away. Carlos Pena walked on four pitches after Longoria's hit, leaving Jaso with an opportunity to be a hero. That would not be the case as the Rays' catcher hit a ground ball right to shortstop Alex Gonzalez. Gonzalez would easily gun down Longoria' who running on contact' at the plate.
Gabe Kapler, who came on to face lefty Scott Downs in the eighth inning, would become the Rays last shot against the right-handed Kevin Gregg. With Bartlett unavailable, and Aybar already in the game, Joe Maddon was left with Kapler or Dioner Navarro as his only options. Safe to say it didn't really matter. Kapler would ground out to end the game, and cap off a frustrating month of May.
After going 17-6 in April, the Rays went 17-12 in May. That's not terrible, and regression was expected, but don't look now as the Yankees are just 2.5 games back of the Rays with the victorious Toronto Blue Jays just 3.5 behind Tampa Bay.
June should be a pretty interesting month of baseball.