When the first pitch your starter throws gets taken for a home run by Billy Burns, he of three home runs in ~1600 professional at bats, it's never good. Everything was downhill from there.
Erasmo Ramirez had done admirably his last two starts after rejoining the rotation, throwing exactly five innings in each with five total hits allowed. The Rays have been very strict with their young, or inexperienced starters this season. Alex Colome, Nathan Karns, and Ramirez have been limited to two times through a batting order in many of their starts, which usually equates to five innings, as to not let the hitters see them again after figuring out their stuff. The A's aren't a great offensive club, and the Rays' bullpen had been taxed over the past two nights, but the decision to let Ramirez pitch the sixth inning proved costly.
There's no guarantee that using someone like Steve Geltz or Brandon Gomes wouldn't have backfired as well, but fresh arm would have been nice since Ramirez had run into trouble a few times already. He started off by walking Stephen Vogt and hitting Billy Butler. After Max Muncy flew out to left field, Mark Canha took a hanging curveball on the inner-half of the plate and launched it into the left field stands giving Oakland a 5-0 lead and sealing the game.
Ernesto Frieri pitched the seventh and did his usual thing by allowing a home run. Preston Guilmet, recalled today from Durham and making his team debut, pitched the final two frames and allowed a sac fly to Vogt in the ninth. Thanks to a rough day by the pitchers the offense would need at least eight runs to win this game, which obviously didn't happen, though they had their chances.
The Rays offense actually out hit the A's ten to eight but managed to score just two runs. They had a chance to score in the first inning when James Loney slapped a ball down the line past Muncy at third. Steven Souza Jr. was running on the pitch and noticed Sam Fuld paying him not attention as he approached third, instead winding up to fire the ball into second base. So, Souza took off for home, thinking the ball would carry to second and daring the A's to throw him out. Unfortunately for Souza, shortstop Marcus Semien caught the ball about ten feet in front of second base and made a good throw home. Semien has over a dozen errors so far this season, so I have no problem challenging him in that situation. Sadly, Souza was easily beaten by the throw and couldn't dislodge the ball when he ran over Vogt. He also sprained his wrist on the play and would be removed the following inning. When facing a top tier starter line Sonny Gray being aggressive and trying to steal a run early is usually a good idea. This time it didn't work out in the Rays' favor.
They would get on the board in the after loading the bases on a Joey Butler double, Evan Longoria walk, and Loney single. Logan Forsythe singled to center, scoring two. The red hot David DeJesus flew out to right field. With Nick Franklin batting (he pinch hit for Asdrubal Cabrera who had tweaked a hamstring) Loney and Forsythe pulled off a double steal. Getting a hit in this situation would make it a two run game and breathe life into the Rays chances. Instead, Franklin went down swinging to end the threat.
The Rays send Jake Odorizzi, arguably their best starter, to the mound tomorrow against the Mariners. The team is still in first place, Seattle is three games under .500, and they don't face Felix Hernandez until the Wednesday finale. Hopefully the offense can get back on track in the meantime.