It’s never fun to lose. But when you grab a nice lead early, only to see it slip away? Those are the worst. But these types of losses are also not indicative of how things will be going forward. So take a breath. Go for a walk. Stay hydrated. It will be okay.
I don’t think it helped that the expectations of Shane Baz were sky high.
We're off to see the Wizard— Tampa Bay Rays (@RaysBaseball) June 11, 2022
The wonderful Wizard of Baz pic.twitter.com/cQErTRym0I
Recently recalled catcher René Pinto also found himself in the starting lineup.
The Rays grabbed the early lead in the first against Chi Chi Gonzalez. It started with one out, when Margot broke up the no no with a single to right-center before advancing to second on a Celestino bobble. Randy followed with a swinging bunt single, putting runners at the corners for Choi. And Choi got the Rays on the board with a ground ball single past Gordon at short to score Margot.
Arozarena hustled his way into third, which allowed Choi to advance to second on the throw. A hard single up the middle by Díaz eluded the semi-drawn-in infield, scoring Randy and Ji-Man.
We made the Wizard of Baz wait a little longer, but he probably won't mind the 3-run lead pic.twitter.com/7XozbSF9Zx— Tampa Bay Rays (@RaysBaseball) June 11, 2022
Staked to a lead, Baz looked great early, working two clean innings, notching a couple Ks and even helping himself with a nifty play on a line drive back at him by Arraez.
Just a completely normal play for his first out of the season pic.twitter.com/eqmQMwFYln— Tampa Bay Rays (@RaysBaseball) June 11, 2022
Things came apart for Shane in the third. Celestino led off with a soft liner just over Bruján’s glove. Baz immediately started to struggle with runners on, uncorking a wild pitch and then granting Gordon a four pitch walk. He seemed to find the range against Jeffers, but was robbed of a check swing strikeout by first base ump Bill Welke. He ended up walking Jeffers on a full count. Baz then fell behind 2-0 to Arraez, who did not miss the middle in heater and put it into the right field seats.
With Baz still looking for the first out, he walked Polanco on a full count. A double to the wall by Miranda scored Polanco, though Miranda was out stretching it for triple.
A long challenge ensued about whether the ball was out of play (it did seem to get hung up on some padding in center) but the play was confirmed. Baz’s day was done: 2.1 IP, 5 runs, 3 hits, 3 walks, 2 strikeouts.
The bullpen was (mostly) strong and kept the Rays in the game. Beeks worked a scoreless .2 giving up a hit and walk while striking out two. Raley worked a scoreless inning, though he did give up a couple hits. Wisler worked a clean inning. Armstrong worked a scoreless two inning, giving up a couple hits and a walk while striking out two. And Thompson...well, we’ll get to that in a bit.
The Rays got one back in the sixth. With two outs and against lefty Caleb Thielbar, Walls ripped a double up the left field line. Ramírez then pinch hit for Phillips and worked a nice at bat before dumping a 3-2 curve into right for a single, scoring Walls.
The Rays really needed a shutdown inning in the bottom of the frame from Ryan Thompson. They did not get, though they really tried! Celestino led off with a double off Thompson, and moved to third on a hard grounder to Choi.
With the infield in and the Rays desperately needing a play, Thompson got Ryan Jeffers to ground to Walls. Walls made the throw home to easily nab Celestino at the plate.
Unfortunately, Thompson then gave up singles to Arraez and Polanco that undid all the good, and it was a two run game again.
The Rays scratched again to within one in the seventh against Jharel Cotton. Kiermaier slashed a one out double into the left field corner, though he did lose the ball for a moment. Margot followed by grounding to short, but with crossing in front of Gordon, the shortstop seemed distracted, and his throw to first got away, scoring KK.
6-5 Twins, but the Rays would get no closer. They did have their chances, but were mostly burned by again making outs on the bases.
In the second inning, KK beat the shift for a one out single, then appeared to have second base stolen. On review, he was called out as he lost contact with the bag while sliding over it.
Then, in the third, Randy reached on another swinging bunt to third, but got caught leaning and was picked off by Gonzalez.
The biggest one that got away came in the fifth. Bruján led off with a single, then swiped second. But after a KK strikeout, Bruján took off for third and was caught stealing. Replay showed that he may have been safe, but the Rays were out of challenges. And or course, Margot would immediately follow that up with a (now non-run scoring) single.
The Rays will try to ward off the sweep tomorrow at two, with Jeffrey Springs going against Cole Sands.