I’m settling into my great seats at the Trop. Ten rows behind the first base dugout. The crowd is good for a late summer day game. I’m excited. And then the game starts.
Jake Odorizzi, up for a start after Jeremy Hellickson‘s most recent disaster, puts down the Angels in the top of the first. The Rays load the bases with one out in the bottom of the first. Things look great for a breakout against journeyman left hander Jason Vargas. Unfortunately, the Rays continue to be hampered by the dreaded no hits with runners in scoring position problem and Rodriguez pops up and Escobar flies out.
The Angels have no such problem in the bottom of the second as Hank Conger walks, advances to second and scores on a Luis Jimenez single.
The next three innings are a pitching duel with Odorizzi looking very good and Vargas continuing to frustrate the Rays hitters with his off speed pitches. I couldn’t count the number of Rays batters that swung and and missed changeups out of the strike zone. In the meantime, the crowd is totally out of the game. You could have heard a pin drop at the Trop. Not a good sign.
In the sixth, the Angels added to their lead with a single by J.B. Shuck off Alex Torres, who had come on to replace Ordorizzi, and a single by Kole Calhoun scored a second run. Part of the frustration was that players like Jimenez and Calhoun were ordinary relacements to a depleted Angel lineup.
The next three innings were as silent as the middle three. In the bottom of the ninth, it looked like the Rays might find the answer to a win. Wil Myers led off with a walk and Escobar doubled. Then, Kelly Johnson popped up and, with two outs, the Rays sent David DeJesus to bat for Jose Lobaton. DeJesus hit an enormous fly ball to right field that died at the warning track. Game over. Rays lose 2-0.
This is, unfortunately, a continuing problem for the Rays. They get a good pitching performance from the starters and bullpen but leave countless runners in scoring position. It would be if it was just an occasional game but it continues for a half a dozen games or more. What is the problem? Hard to tell but one answer may be that they don’t have a hitter who can take this team on their back the way a David Ortiz can. Where are you Evan Longoria? Let’s hope that things pick up on the West Coast.