Stop me if you've heard this one before: The Rays had the bases loaded and didn't score the runners.
For the third game in a row, the Rays filled the bags and didn't convert, this time at the hands of C.J. Wilson and the Angels, the Rays third team faced in three days.
The Rays would score one early on after stringing together some quality at bats: After 1-out singles by Escobar and Loney, Jose Molina took a breakingball low and inside and cut it perfectly between the fielders in right and center, scoring a runner. Jennings walked, Zorilla flew out, and that was the first missed opportunity.
Mike Trout was the first to answer for Anaheim with a baseball that was rocketed to the Trop's center field wall. I can only assume it went through the roof and... no, wait, it landed in the Captain Morgan party deck stair case. You know, the deepest part of the field. Kid's good.
With the game tied up 1-1, the Rays made it interesting again in the fourth.
After another Jose Molina base hit, Sam Fuld andDesmond Jennings each hit into fielder's choices with outs at second base. Zobrist followed with a single, Longoria took a walk on six pitches, and then Myers got a gift of a slider in the zone, somewhat low and inside. A wheelhouse pitch that he popped up.
So that's two missed opportunities with bases juiced.
Hernandez continued his strong outing, fresh off a relief appearance on (), earning strikes swinging and looking on well placed sinkers and changeups to down Grant Green and Peter Bourjos. Then J.B. Shuck singled on a sinker, Hernandez missed some calls to Erik Aybar, and Trout was back up with two on.
After a visit from Hickey, Trout took a fourseamer at the letters inside for strike one, swung at two change ups below the zone (fouling one), took a ball on a fastball in the dirt, and then Hernandez utterly fooled him with a change up middle-in. A big cut, and a nice strikeout.
Sean Rodriguez led with a first pitch infield single after Erik Aybar missed his mark and drew Trumbo off the bag. The following pitch Yunel Escobar put a low heat fastball through the right side to get two men in scoring position. Wilson started missing his spots badly, but switched to a curveball to get Loney fanning toward the outer edge of the zone.
Luckily, the red hot Jose Molina was up. He saw two sliders from Wilson, the first outside the zone, the next one in. He ripped another double and drove home both runners, giving the Rays a 3-1 lead.
Wilson was replaced in the bottom of the next frame, and Cory Rasmus promptly allowed a double to Zobrist. After dropping Longoria on a slider, Mike Socia opted to intentionally walk Wil Myers. Then it was a chess match: Maddon pinch hit DeJesus for Sean Rodriguez and Scioscia change pitchers to Buddy Boshers. DDJ grounded out on a curve ball and Scioscia intentionally walked the bases loaded for James Loney!
With a third chance with the bases loaded, the Rays finally converted. Loney drove in two runs with a rip to right field, giving the Rays a 5-1 lead. Third time's the charm. Next up was Molina with runners on the corners, and he finally failed to get on base, grounding out to end the threat.
Unfortunately for Hernandez, the wheels had to come off eventually. He allowed a single and a bunt-sing to Nelson and Green, and was lifted for Jake McGee. After a flurry of fastballs, Bourjos walked, and then Shuck grounded out for a sac-run. Erick Aybar then whopped the first fatball he received, scored two more. The Rays lead shrunk quickly, 5-4.
McGee responded well, striking out Mike Trout swinging at a 2-seam, then caught Hamilton looking.
Joel Peralta was then called upon to hold the one-run lead, and he struck out the side. Mark Trumbo was out on a foul tip caught by Molina, catcher Hank Conger went down swinging at Peralta's patented splitter, and Chris Nelson went down swinging on a pitch well outside after some nice sequencing in the zone.
[[WARNING: infuriating blown save follows this subheading -- to avoid rage, skip to GAME NOTES]]
Facing 8-9-1 in the line up, Fernando Rodney got the nod for the ninth. Unfortunately, our closer was his wild self. He walked Grant Green on a full count by missing with his first change up outside after dealing five fastballs.
Rodney wouldn't put another change up outside the zone for the next two batters. A full count to Bourjos resulted in a ground ball to get the force at second base, but Bourjos would swipe the bag any way.
After that, there was a comedy of errors.
An infield umpire called a balk on Rodney, but he was overruled by the homeplate ump Tim Timmons. The DH Shuck then hit a blooper to center that Jennings found a path to but dropped, credited with an error, placing runners on second and third. Three pitches later, Aybar guessed well on a 99 MPH fastball and drove in the two base runners with a line drive to right field. #toughbreak
6-5 Angels, Trout and Hamilton due up. Luckily, it wouldn't get worse.
A pissed Fernando Rodney needed four pitches for Trout, dealing 99, change up, 100, 100 -- Trout went down looking. He then fed a change and two 98's for three balls on the edge of the zone to Hamilton, came back inside with a two-seam at 97 for the call, but missed the next pitch and Hamilton walked. Two on for the slugging Trumbo, but the slugger took 98 away, whiffed 98 inside, then got jammed on 99 way inside for the final out.
With the save blown, it was up to Escobar, Loney, and Molina to salvage the game, facing the one that got away (TOTGA), our old friend Dane De La Rosa (DDLR).
Escobar started things right by walking on a full count. DDLR started with four pitches above the zone, snuck one in for a whiff, then missed badly outside. He played the same game with Loney, sending a pitch dramatically high and away and earning a coaching visit. Then it was tow more high around the zone, one inside, and then a pitch to hit -- but the 94 MPH wheelhouse fastball fell short and Loney was out on the fly ball.
Two outs remaining, Matt Joyce pinch hit for Jose Molina. Slider high, slider inside, a fastball high but fouled away, and a surprise splitter middle of the zone. Joyce swung in front of it, and the Angels nabbed both runners on the game ending double play.
TOTGA earned his second save, Rodney his fourth loss.
Three teams faced, three straight losses, and the Rays are now 2.5 games behind Boston -- who destroyed Baltimore 13-2.
- "If only we had a real offense, we would have scored an extra run than the Angels did with the same number of hits, because analysis," - twitter, probably.
- Hernandez was dealing, in spite of the nine hits. I liked what he had to offer, but I'm too pissed to say nice things now.
- Loney struck out twice tonight, which is unusual. He recovered with two hits, but stranded five base runners, the most of any Rays hitter.
- The offense was timid in the latter three innings, and that was frustrating. In the seventh, Zobrist was the lone base runner on a two out walk, then was caught stealing to make the point moot. In the eighth, Longoria hit a hard liner that Aybar nabbed, Myers fouled out to Trumbo, and DeJesus fouled out at by the prowess of Ernesto Frieri.
- The Rays had the same number of hits as LA with 10, earned 9 walks (as opposed to LA's 6), and struck out seven times (compared to LA's 12). The blooper to center in the ninth changed everything, putting the tying and winning runs in scoring position, as opposed to two outs, man on second.
Desmond Jennings on ninth-inning error: "I just missed the ball. Simple as that."— Sam Strong (@SamStrong) August 28, 2013
- Your only solace: C.J. Wilson's perfectly shampooed hair must have got in the way, cause he tumbled jogging out to the mound.
He was a good sport about it.