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Rays 2, Blue Jays 3: Missed chances doom Rays

Faria does all he can, but it’s not enough.

MLB: Tampa Bay Rays at Toronto Blue Jays John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports

Marcus Stroman was able to set the Rays down in order in the first, although Stroman reached a full count to Brad Miller and Lucas Duda, the latter of which actually got ahead on a 3-0 count before striking out swinging. The Blue Jays, too, made Faria work for his first strikeout, with Bautista working a full count himself before finally striking out swinging. Josh Donaldson, the bane of the Rays’ existence the past couple of days, lined a ball to center, but Faria escaped with a well-placed double play ground ball. The play actually went 3-5-3, as LoMo both scooped the ball at first and caught the ball for the final out of the inning. Clearly this implies that Logan Morrison is not a team player and should be sent down to the minors to rethink his actions.

A grounder from Corey Dickerson shorthopped Ryan Goins at shortstop, skittering past him for a hit. This base hit reset the ever-present “Rays No-Hit Alert” clock that shines over my bed for another 24 hours. If the clock ever reaches zero, I will finally ascend. You will never see me again. But I will be watching you. Oh yes.

With two outs in the second inning the Blue Jays mounted a threat. Kevin Pillar smacked a ball past third base that the base ump called fair, but it had a ton of tailing action, much like a hard slider. Pillar slid into second with a double, despite Cash’s objections. Booth replays didn’t show anything conclusive anyway. Ryan Goins now stepped to the plate with a chance to redeem his tricky play. Despite his .216 average, Faria pitched to him like he was Miguel Cabrera: everything away, nothing up. He had pitched the same way to Justin Smoak the inning before, who struck the ball well but got nothing but a double play ball. After falling behind 3-0 (again) Faria let one leak out over the plate a little bit more. Luckily, Goins pulled it right to LoMo at first. Morrison once again ran a fairly long distance to touch the bag. Is he mad at Jacob? How could anyone ever be mad at Jacob?

This inning would mark the first of three massive missed opportunities for the Rays, once that the game would pivot around. With two outs and the lineup turning over, Brad Miller hit a two-out single, followed by a Lucas Duda smash to right field that settled in for a double.

Enter Evan Longoria: Missed Opportunity #1. Longo fell behind quickly (swinging on a bad pitch low and away for the second strike) but battled back and eventually struck a ball hard, but right at the right fielder. The Rays stranded the two men in scoring position, and the Blue Jays quickly responded with a run the next inning.

In the fourth and fifth the Rays and Blue Jays traded runs. A Steve Pearce homer was followed by a groundout RBI by Brad Miller, thanks to a leadoff double by Mallex Smith. This tightened the score to just one again. The Jays would bring another in in the sixth. This led to Missed Opportunity #2.

It’s sort of hard to call an inning where you score a run a true missed opportunity, but rest assured that this was the inning where the Rays had the best chance to close the gap. Marcus Stroman seemed on the verge of falling apart despite retiring Peter Bourjos to start the inning. Mallex Smith, however walked, Jesus Sucre nabbed a leadoff base hit, and Miller followed up with another walk to load the bases with one out. Aaron Loup replaced Stroman, who himself walked a pinch-hitting Steven Souza Jr to score another run. With the tying and go-ahead runs in scoring position, and the meat of the order up, you would hope to at least tie the game, or perhaps take the lead!

No such luck. Longoria was called out on strikes (on a rather tough pitch to call Strike 3...yet it was still a strike) and LoMo popped out harmlessly to end any threat. This inning would be the last in which the Rays would score.

Sergio Romo and Dan Jennings finished out the game in fine fashion, but the Blue Jays already had what they needed. In the ninth the Rays mounted a threat, but alas, it would turn out to be Missed Opportunity #3. The Rays lost the game 3-2, and it will take a good bit of luck for them to win tomorrow as the team begin to settle towards a sub-.500 record. Tough, but true.