September 18, 2012; St. Petersburg, FL, USA; Tampa Bay Rays third baseman Evan Longoria (3) reacts in the dugout in the eighth inning against the Boston Red Sox at Tropicana Field. Boston Red Sox defeated the Tampa Bay Rays 7-5. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-US PRESSWIRE

Game 148: Rays Get 3-Hit, Blow 3-0 Lead as Pitching Implodes

The Rays scored 7 runs on 5 hits on Tuesday, the first time they have managed more runs than hits since June and just the fourth time all season. That’s nice. The Rays offense didn’t exactly light up the sky (which you can’t see when you’re in the Trop anyway), but this loss wasn’t there fault this time, at least not directly. The Rays have always been built on pitching and defense. Those parts of the team did not live up to their ends of the bargain.

Things were looking good for the Rays in the 3rd. Jeremy Hellickson was pitching well and Felix Doubront lost the zone in the bottom of the inning, dishing out three straight 1-out walks before a Ben Zobrist 2-run single and an Evan Longoria sac fly made it 3-0 Rays. Then everything fell apart. Jeremy Hellickson had struck out 5 while walking just 1 and allowing just 1 hit through 3 innings but he had thrown 60 pitches and wore down in the 4th. A Cody Ross double followed by a James Loney single made it 3-1 Rays in the 4th. And then in the 5th, Hellickson allowed a walk to the weak-hitting Jose Iglesias ahead of a Pedro Ciriaco single and a Jacoby Ellsbury RBI base hit to make it 3-2 Rays. Hellickson departed after just 4+ innings and 94 pitches. Jake McGee allowed a Dustin Pedroia sac fly to tie the game at 3. Hellickson went 4 innings allowing 3 runs on 5 hits, striking out 7 while walking 2. He had electric stuff, specifically showing a good curveball, but his command wavered as he could not consistently throw strikes and quality offerings and his outing went downhill fast.

Kyle Farnsworth entered for McGee with 1 out in the 6th and allowed a pair of singles before getting Iglesias to ground out and then forcing Ciriaco to ground to 3rd. But Sean Rodriguez‘s throw to 1st wasn’t even close, scoring Boston’s 4th run to give them a 4-3 lead. Then in the 7th, Wade Davis had a rare meltdown, having two outs and nobody on before losing the strike zone, allowing two straight walks before a Jarrod Satalamacchia groundball got through for an RBI single and then a misplaced fastball turned into a 2-run double to make it 7-3 Boston. By the way, the Rays were getting 1-hit as all this was happening as Doubront went 6 innings allowing 3 runs on just the 1 hit, the 2-run single by Zobrist, striking out 5 while walking 5.

The Rays battled back in the bottom of the 7th, capitalizing as Clayton Mortensen allowed a hit batsman and a pair of walks with 2 outs before the surging Zobrist laced a 2-run single off Junichi Tazawa to make it 7-5. But Evan Longoria grounded out to end the inning and end the Rays’ last major threat of the game as Boston won 7-5. Doubront (11-9) got the win, Farnsworth (1-6) got a tough loss as Rodriguez’s error penalized him, and Andrew Bailey nailed down his 5th save with a hitless 9th. The Rays have now lost their first 2 games in their series versus the Red Sox and now sit 5.5 games back in the AL Wild Card standings and 6 games back in the AL East. They’re in free-fall having lost 7 of their last 8 games. There are 14 games left in the season. Can the Rays turn this around? Yes, it’s possible, but every day it’s looking more and more unlikely. There isn’t any more time to waste especially against a losing team like the Red Sox. The Rays need to go on an incredible run to end the season to have any sort of chance, and that has to happen immediately. Chris Archer goes up against Daisuke Matsuzaka on Wednesday as the Rays desperately need to come away with a victory.

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Tags: Ben Zobrist Jeremy Hellickson Tampa Bay Rays

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