This weekend felt like watching the same unfunny GIF on repeat over, and over, and over. Much like the evenings before, the Rays had a lead erased late from which they would not recover.
The Rays bullpen continues to be an issue, as Brad Boxberger’s disastrous eighth inning managed to turn a 5-3 lead into a 6-5 deficit after a walk and back-to-back homers from Rougned Odor (his second on the day) and Carlos Gomez.
For much of the game it had been a back and forth affair, with the Rangers getting to Odorizzi first in the second inning. Adrian Beltre led off the top of the frame with a triple, and Mike Napoli’s sac fly to Souza sent Beltre home to put the Rangers up 1-0. Rougned Odor made Jake pay for leaving a meatball up in the zone, as he planted it firmly over the right field fence to make it 2-0 Texas.
But the Rays made Texas atone for their shenanigans in the bottom of the frame, as Aideny Hechavarria’s RBI single followed Souza being hit by a pitch and Peterson reaching on catcher interference by former Ray Robinson Chirinos.
Mallex Smith would kill the momentum by grounding into a double play to Elvin Andrus, but Shane Peterson scored to even the ballgame at 2 each.
Tyson Ross really began to struggle in the 4th, walking Souza and allowing a single to Peterson before a double steal from the pair and an Adeiny Hechavarria walk loaded the bases. Yesterday’s goat, Mallex Smith, came through with a double off the right field wall to score both Souza and Peterson and put the Rays up 4-2.
After knocking his own helmet off with an errant bunt, small-ball All-Star Jesus Sucre stole second before Dickerson walked to load the bases again. And with the bases firmly juiced, Tyson Ross tossed ball four high on a full count to walk Brad Miller and allow Mallex Smith to stroll home. 5-2 Tampa Bay.
Unfortunately, Odorizzi struggled more in the fifth inning, giving up a homer to Joey Gallo after battling to a full count. He then walked Jonathan Lucroy and Shin-Soo Choo before being replaced by Erasmo Ramirez, who proceeded to walk Nomar Mazara to load the bases. ACEmo would prevail, though, recording outs of Elvis Andrus and Adrian Beltre before a huge strikeout of Mike Napoli to get out of the jam. 5-3 Tampa Bay.
All was quiet, save a few replay reviews, until the fateful eighth inning. As mentioned above, Brad Boxberger seemed bound and determined to ruin yet another Rays lead in this series. After walking Mike Napoli, Brad handed back-to-back homers to Odor and Gomez. Success? 6-5 Texas.
This team still had fight in them, though, as the ninth inning showed. Jose Leclerc was on the mound for the Rangers to finish the job, but Brad Miller walked to put the potential winning run on base. Logan Morrison, 0-4 on the day, had an excellent at bat with two outs, resulting in a walk to put two on for Souza.
As far as Souza’s at bat, please do not let your children see that. I beg you.
It was a nearly unprecedented display of vulgarity, not often seen on a baseball diamond. Souza struck out swinging to cap off what, again, is a plate appearance far beyond whatever horrors we may see on tonight’s Game of Thrones episode. Even David Benioff and D.B. Weiss would never subject their viewers to such atrocities.
This weekend’s disaster was a real blow to Tampa Bay’s momentum in the American League Wild Card race. Now 3.5 back from the AL East lead and behind(ish) both the Yankees and the Royals(!) in the Wild Card hunt.
Plenty of opportunities lie ahead to right the ship, however, as Blake Snell will bring his 0-5 record and 4.98 ERA to the mound against Kevin Gausman’s 6-7 record and 6.11 ERA tomorrow night at Tropicana Field. Get there early, folks, as Gausman typically mows down the Rays quickly, and Snell can’t seem to make it past the 5th these days.
There is no denying that this weekend was NOT fun. Losing is a part of baseball, but man is it tough to see our team give up a lead on three straight nights. This series could have easily been a sweep in our favor, but alas, it is a game of inches, and the Rays did not measure up. They do say everything’s bigger in Texas. (Ugh... I’ll see myself out).
Here’s to hoping the Rays dominate the O’s at home before heading up to face the Yankees next week.