clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Walk-off on the Wild Side

Last night was not the first time the (Devil) Rays lost in this most embarrassing way

MLB: Tampa Bay Rays at Texas Rangers Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

Throughout the Rays quarter century of existence, they have lost A LOT of games. The most gut-wrenching of those losses are of course, of the walk-off variety, when the sense of victory is so near only to have the rug violently swept out from under you, causing a general feeling of despair that doesn’t seem to dissipate until the next time the Rays take the field.

The Rays have been walked off the field a total of 187 times, including six times in the postseason. They’ve lost numerous times from home-runs, sac flies, and even once, last year, on balk.

And including last night, there are four times the other team’s winning run came courtesy of the wild pitch.

Here are the other times:

April 17th, 2002 vs the Detroit Tigers

Entering the bottom of the 9th in Detroit, the Tigers and Rays were knotted at 6. So Hal McRae turned to Victor Zambrano, the Rays eventual Opening Day starter, to try and force the game in extra innings. He failed. A lead off single and then a sac-bunt put a runner on second. Zambrano then intentionally walked Robert Fick and coaxed a flyout from Bobby Higginson that allowed the runner from second to scurry over to third. Now with a base open, Zambrano intentionally walked Dmitri Young. Now, it may not be smart to intentionally load the bases with one wildest pitchers in baseball history on the mound, but obviously McRae had a plan...dinner plans most likely. Zambrano unfurled an errant throw on his next delivery and the Tigers walked off.

June 3rd, 2003 vs the Chicago Cubs

This is one of the most infamous games over the past few decades, but the Devil Rays only serve as a footnote. The game is notable because Sammy Sosa shattered his bat in the first inning revealing its cork interior, and resulting in his immediate ejection and eventual suspension. Play continued and Geremi Gonzalez outdueled Mark Prior, only for the Tampa Bay bullpen to allow Chicago to tie the game. So, in the 9th inning, things were tied at 2 and it was up to Al Levine to hold the lead. Levine quickly allowed back-to-back singles, then a sac bunt from Hee-Seop Choi allowed the runners to advance into scoring position with one out.

Tampa Bay’s manager Lou Pinella came out for a mound visit to coach Levine through the tough situation. Lou should have just stayed in the dugout as Levine spiked a slider and the runner scampered home from third to win the game for Chicago.

August 26th, 2009 vs the Toronto Blue Jays

Scott Kazmir was everything the Devil Rays needed him to be in the early years of his career. Unfortunately, there were times when Kazmir would just completely come unglued as his mechanics fell out of sync and caused him to unravel. The majority of the 2009 season went this way for Kaz. However, he had seemingly turned the page in August, and was back to his dominating self. He was pitching well on August 26th against the Blue Jays, in what would turn out to be his final game in a Rays uniform.

Kazmir dominated, delivering 6 innings and allowing just one run, alongside 10 strikeouts and just one walk.

Entering the bottom of the 9th, Kazmir was in line for the victory, but J.P. Howell unfortunately quashed those hopes. After a lead off pop-out, Howell surrendered a solo homerun to Rod Barajas. Howell then walked Marco Scutaro, coaxed a flyout from Aaron Hill and was on the verge of escaping the inning, only to walk the next two batters. The bases were now loaded with two outs for Randy Ruiz. Howell jumped out to advantageous 1-2 count, but lost the grip on his next delivery the ball sailed wide of the Rays catcher for a wild pitch, allowing the Blue Jays the walk-off victory.