In one of the more disappointing losses of the season, the Rays fell to the Royals tonight by a score of five to four.
Heading into the ninth inning with a two run lead, Joe Maddon turned to Joel Peralta to close it out. In turn, Peralta recorded one out while allowing a single and walking a batter. Kirby Yates was called upon to face Salvador Perez, who promptly drove a middle-middle fastball over the short wall in left field to put the Royals ahead. It's not the blown save that's annoying, it's what lead up to Kirby Yates having to come into the game at all that really sticks in your craw.
Alex Cobb pitched well and left after 6.2 innings having given up two runs and striking out seven. Grant Balfour was used for just one out, finishing up the seventh inning. Jake McGee, after closing the game last night, was brought in for the eighth inning and allowed two weak singles to left field to start the frame. Weak contact off of Jake McGee usually results in an out. Brad Boxberger had been warming for the ninth inning, but had to come in to relieve McGee and face lefty-killer Danny Valencia with one out in the eighth. Boxberger got the Rays out of the inning unscathved, but that forced Maddon's hand for the ninth. It's usually not a good look when the five relievers you use each fail to pitch a whole inning.
Cobb was really impressive in the fourth inning. With the Rays down 1-0, the Royals loaded the bases on three straight singles but only managed to score one run in the inning as Cobb induced a ground out, line out, and a strikeout. His changeup got the highest number of swings and misses on the night, but five of his seven strikeouts came on the fastball, which is a good sign for Cobb going forward.
Even though the Rays were leading going into the ninth, the offense wasn't too impressive. Yes, Kevin Kiermaier's hit a go ahead grand slam in the fourth inning, but that would be their only hit with runners in scoring position. Every starter reached base at least once aside from Sean Rodriguez, yet they couldn't get a second big hit when they needed it. The Rays were 1-9 with men in scoring position and the Royals were 2-11. That second hit is the difference in the game.