Game 92: Squandered Opportunities, Bullpen Sink Rays

By David Hill

The Tampa Bay Rays had several opportunities to turn this game into a rout in their favor. However, the Cleveland Indians used a pair of two-out rallies to come back and snatch a 10-6 victory.

Indians starter Justin Masterson struggled all game, having at least one baserunner in each inning. After getting out of a two-out, two-on jam in the bottom of the first, he was touched up in the bottom of the second. With two on and one out, Elliot Johnson singled to right, scoring Luke Scott from third to give the Rays a 1-0 lead, and moving Desmond Jennings to third. B.J. Upton then followed with a sacrifice fly, scoring Jennings and extending the lead to 2-0.

The Rays added to the lead in the bottom of the third. After walks to Ben Zobrist and Matt Joyce, the Rays executed a double steal, putting runners on second and third with no outs. Following a groundout, Luke Scott singled to right, scoring Zobrist and giving the Rays a 3-0 lead. The lead expanded to 4-0 when Jennings laid down a bunt single to score Joyce. Jose Lobaton walked, loading the bases; however, Masterson was able to escape further damage.

Cleveland got on the board in the top of the fifth inning. With two outs in the frame, Jeremy Hellickson had been cruising along, permitting only one hit and a Carlos Santana walk to lead off the inning. With an 0-2 count, Hellickson hit Casey Kotchman with a pitch, putting runners on first and second. Jack Hannahan followed with a double to deep center, driving in both runners and cutting the lead to 4-2. Shin-Soo Choo then hit a groundball up the middle just under Johnson’s glove to score Hannahan, cutting the lead to 4-3.

The Rays threatened again in the bottom of the inning. With one out, they loaded the bases on two walks and a single. Masterson was pulled, surrendering 4 earned runs on 7 hits and 7 walks while striking out just 1 batter in 4.1 innings of work. Esmil Rogers came in, and ended the threat with a strikeout and a ground ball to third.

Hellickson lasted through six innings, giving up the 3 earned runs on 5 hits and 1 walk, striking out 2 batters. Kyle Farnsworth came in to pitch the seventh, and recorded two quick outs. Then, the wheels came off. After two straight hits, Jake McGee was called upon to end the rally. However, he merely poured petrol upon the flames. After a controversial call for ball two, Jason Kipnis fouled off several pitches before getting a base hit, tying the game at 4-4. A Michael Brantley single gave the Indians a 5-4 lead, the Santana hit a three run home run to blow the game open, putting Cleveland ahead 8-4.

The Rays cut into the lead in the bottom of the inning. With two out and Luke Scott on third, Elliot Johnson had an infield single, scoring Scott to trim the lead to 8-5. Cleveland answered in the top of the ninth, as Kipnis and Santana both had RBI singles in the inning, extending the lead to 10-5. The Rays tacked on one more run in the bottom of the frame, however, it was not enough as Cleveland won 10-6.

The victory puts the Indians a half game ahead of the Rays in the hunt for the second wild-card spot, and assures Cleveland of winning the season series.

Game Notes: Rays batters drew 10 walks in the game, two fewer than the team record set in June 2010. Masterson is 1-7 lifetime against the Rays. Prior to tonight’s implosion, the Tampa bullpen had gone 12.2 innings without giving up a run. Luke Scott went 4-4, his first 4 hit game of the season.