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May 7, 2013; St. Petersburg, FL, USA; Tampa Bay Rays manager Joe Maddon (70) reacts to the call made by home plate umpire during the second inning at Tropicana Field. Manager Joe Maddon (70) was then ejected. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Game 32: A Terrible Case of Deja Vu As Rays Bullpen Collapses Once Again

One game you can live with. But two and we begin to get concerned. Three and it starts looking like a pattern. Four and we begin to panic. There is plenty of time left in teh 2013 season. If the Rays play the way they’re capable, this agonizing stretch will be forgotten. But at this point, Rays fans are losing faith and it’s hard to blame them.

Roberto Hernandez was excellent for the Rays, going 6 innings allowing just 1 run on 5 hits, striking out 7 while walk walking just 1. His only real mistake was an Adam Lind homer in the second inning. He threw quite a few pitches, 103 to be exact, in his 6 frames, but he was dominant and gave the Rays about as good of an outing as they could have hoped for. Hernandez may have had another 15 or so pitches left in him, but Dave Martinez, managing for the ejected Joe Maddon, decided to pull him in favor of Jake McGee for the 7th. The results were predictable, like a harsh reality we dream isn’t true before it happens again.

The Rays got their offense off J.A. Happ in the second inning. A Sean Rodriguez double and a James Loney single began the inning before Rodriguez was called out trying to score on a Jose Molina groundball when replays showed that he had not been tagged. The play got Joe Maddon ejected from the game and may have gotten the Rays going. A wild pitch tied the game at 1 before Yunel Escobar singled, and then the Rays scored 2 more runs but not in the way anyone would have wanted as a Desmond Jennings line drive hit in the head. Happ was carted off the field after a delay, but he was conscious and waved to the crowd on his way out. Ryan Roberts capped the scoring with an RBI single to make it 4-1 Rays.

In the 7th, the struggling Jake McGee entered the game again and for the umpteenth time could not do the job. He retired the final three batters he faced–but only after allowing an Adam Lind double and a Colby Rasmus 2-run home run to make the Rays’ lead just 4-3. McGee did try to mix in his slider and threw a good one to get ahead 0-1 on Rasmus, but then he decided to come back with another one and hanged it, allowing Rasmus to tee off. The nightmare continued the following inning as Kyle Farnsworth allowed a game-tying RBI double to Jose Bautista before Cesar Ramos came in to get an inning-ending double play. Then in the 9th, Joel Peralta became the latest Rays reliever to implode, allowing a Maicer Izturis solo home run and a Melky Cabrera RBI double to make it 6-4, and that would be the final.

The Rays stuck to their formula. Their starting pitching was great, their offense wasn’t great but was opportunistic, and their defense were outstanding, not making any errors and delivering a few incredible plays. But the bullpen is just missing entirely, and that doesn’t seem like something that’s about to change. There is nothing worse than succeeding in just about every facet of the game only to have one glaring weakness take it all away. The Rays have to find some way to turn their bullpen around. Matt Moore goes for the Rays against Ricky Romero as the Rays hope to simply salvage a game versus the Blue Jays despite the fact that they should be going for the sweep right now. The way the bullpen is playing, Moore better toss his first major league complete game.

Tags: Jake McGee Joel Peralta Kyle Farnsworth Roberto Hernandez Tampa Bay Rays

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