That muffled sound you hear making its way out of Tampa Bay is the faint heartbeat of the Tampa Bay Rays playoff chances. After avoiding a sweep in New York Thursday night, the Rays returned to Tropicana Field for a three game series against the Toronto Blue Jays. Friday night’s game did not go at all as planned.
Tampa fell behind early and could never get back into the game as they fell to Toronto 5-1. The Rays managed just three hits and did not score their lone run until the bottom of the ninth. It was the Rays fourth loss in their last five games and in each of those losses they have scored two or less runs. They had trouble right from the start in the bottom of the first. Desmond Jennings led off with a walk and stole second after a strikeout by B.J. Upton. He then stole second, but Evan Longoria struck out. Johnny Damon came up and coaxed a walk, but that was followed by a Ben Zobrist strike out. That inning summed up the offensive woes the Rays have experienced this past week.
As if the offensive struggles weren’t enough, David Price had one of his worst outings in months. Price made it look easy to start the game, retiring the first six batters, including two strikeouts. Things unraveled in the third though, as Price loaded the bases, committed two throwing errors and gave up three runs. He came back to strike out two in the fourth but it wouldn’t matter. The Jays had more than enough to win and would tack on two more before Price exited at the start of the seventh.
One bright spot to the night was the fact that the Red Sox were rained out in New York. So the Rays only lost a half game in the standings instead of a full game if Boston had played and been able to win. Tampa now sits two and a half games back with five games left in the season. There is no margin for error at this point. They have to take care of business Saturday night and get back on track if they have any hope of making the playoffs.