Following a wild game that lasted late in the evening on Saturday night, the Rays put up lackluster performance this Sunday afternoon. Hoo Ray Momentum! It wasn't the worst game played by the Rays, but did not get anything going against Josh Johnson and the Florida Marlins. The Rays dropped their second series to the Marlins and finished 2-4 on this six game road trip.
Making matters worse, the Rays stellar defense has decided to join the inconsistent offense and slumping starting pitching at the regression buffet. Although they made just one official error today, the defense did not help David Price.
In the fifth inning of a 1-1 game, B.J. Upton never caught sight of a line drive to center field. Upton would be charge with his third error of the year as Chris Coghlan reached base. The next batter, Gaby Sanchez, would lace a hit to the gap that looked more like a single than the run scoring triple it turned out to be. The reason Sanchez was able to get to third base was a terrible angle taken by Ben Zobrist allowing the ball to roll all the way to the wall. To his credit, Price would escape the inning without further damage.
Cody Ross led off the sixth inning with a weak pop up to right field. Sean Rodriguez completely lost the ball, and was almost hit in the head as the ball landed inches behind him. Ross would be safe on a close throw by Zobrist, who alertly picked up the ball and fired it back to the infield. What happened next can not be blamed on the defense. Wes Helms took a David Price slider deep to left field for his third home run of the season (all against the Rays) and put the Marlins up 4-1.
Overall, Price pitched pretty well. He allowed three earned runs on six hits and two walks in six innings. He struck out nine batters and induced 13 swinging strikes (12%). Unlike his previous few outings, Price maintained a nice balance of pitches threw out the game as he threw a combined 31 breaking balls.
Aside from the shaky defensive performance, the Rays position players could not muster any offense against Josh Johnson. The lone run came on a Carl Crawford solo shot in the fourth inning. After walking 12 times on Saturday night, the Rays did not register one base-on-balls Sunday and struck out 11 times. The 6-9 hitters went a combined 1-13 with the lone hit coming off the bat of David Price.
The loss bumps the Rays out of first place for the first time since April 22 - a span of 59 days. That said, the team's current 42-27 mark is still a franchise best after 69 games. After the off day, Tampa Bay will open up a stretch in which they will play 13 of the next 19 games at home before the All-Star break. With an 18-16 record at the Trop so far, it would be nice to have some positive regression sent the Rays way.