It is a cliche, but...you really can’t win them all. We all knew a loss would come at some point, and heading into this series if you’d told me the Rays would win the first two games and then lose the one started by Chris Sale I’d have taken that.
But honestly I would rather have seen the team blown out — where you can say “jut one of those nights!” - then to lose a war of attrition like we saw tonight.
Oddly enough, getting on base against Sale was the least of the Rays problems. In each of the first two innings they managed to get two men on base, only to see each inning end with a double play. The Rays are actually among the better teams at avoiding double plays but that was cold comfort today.
Drew Rasmussen was also quite good — but still he allowed a second inning run on a triple and an RBI single (which Margot misplayed, but that’s that what let to the run)
In the third inning the Rays took the lead - which usually marks the first step toward a Rays win. Nelson Cruz singled and the Rays avoided the double play in the best possible way — Wander Franco launched a ball over everyone’s head and into the right field bleachers.
Wander stays hot with a two-run shot! pic.twitter.com/8NDXt2Svnh— Tampa Bay Rays (@RaysBaseball) September 2, 2021
Rays threatened again in the fourth, but once more the double play bug killed the rally. An added aggravation this time: Margot was on second with no outs, and got thrown out trying to steal third. Maybe we can admire the aggressiveness — after all a runner on third can score on a sac fly. But he had a bad jump and a bad slide so all he did was erase a runner in scoring position.
Rasmussen was removed in the fifth after giving up a lead-off single. He had pitched an effective four innings (five strike outs, no walks) and I was surprised they didn’t let him finish the fifth, although I do know they are building him up from a relief role. Next up was JT Chargois, who did record two outs but fell behind most batters he faced and then walked Vazquez to put two men on. Next up was Conley, the lefty brought in to face lefthanded power hitter Kyle Schwarber. He did not get Schwarber, who singled to right. But for reasons unclear to most of us, the Boston third base coach waved Vazquez around to try to score and he was thrown out by quite a bit. Perhaps the scouting reports on Arozarena’s arm suggest he can’t make that throw? Well, he did.
Ohh you gotta be quicker than that pic.twitter.com/H7abReJaV2— Tampa Bay Rays (@RaysBaseball) September 2, 2021
But innings thereafter saw were just frustrating. Boston tied the game in the seventh with a Christian Vazquez home run against Collin McHugh. Collin McHugh!! And they added on what would prove to be the winning run against Pete Fairbanks, who gave up a series of singles in what felt to me like an interminable inning.
The Rays certainly had their chances. Twice they got runners to third with fewer than two outs. Twice, those runners went on contact, and twice that contact was a ground ball to the left side of a drawn in infield and an easy throw to home for the out. While the Rays had 8 hits, two walks and a hit batter — a lot of base runners! — they grounded into three double plays, were caught stealing, and had two runners thrown out at home. That is a lot of wasted base runners.
There were some bright spots. David Robertson’s debut was a clean eighth inning. Rasmussen continues to show great promise. And Wander Franco, what can we say? The opposite field homerun was the knock that got the team on the board, but I’ll also remember hit that seemed like a normal single but was turned into a hustle double, and a nicely-turned double play with infield partner Taylor Walls.
Even with a Rays loss and Yankees win, Rays remain in first place, and hopefully new win streak will start tomorrow.