Game 144: Joe Maddon Gambles and Comes Up Empty as Rays Fall 7-3

By David Hill

Just when it seemed as though the Rays had turned a corner tonight, disaster struck. There are not sufficient words to truly describe how quickly everything changed on one swing of the bat. Now, it may be fair to ask where the Rays go from here.

Both starters had to work out of trouble early, as Alex Cobb faced a bases loaded jam with one out in the second, but got a double play to escape further damage. The Rays also had a chance in the bottom of the inning, putting runners on second and third with one out before Red Sox starter Ryan Dempster got Jose Lobaton to strike out to end the threat.

The dam broke for the Red Sox in the third. Boston loaded the bases with one out, bringing up the white hot Mike Napoli. Napoli lined a 1-1 pitch to right that got away from Wil Myers for a double, and Daniel Nava followed with an RBI groundout to put the Red Sox on top.

Tampa answered in the bottom of the inning, as back to back doubles from Yunel Escobar and David DeJesus gave the Rays their first run. They loaded the bases with two outs, but Dempster again managed to escape further damage, getting Desmond Jennings to ground into a fielder’s choice to end the inning. The Rays loaded the bases again in the fifth with two outs, but were once again unable to push a run across. It appeared as though those squandered chances may come back to haunt the Rays, especially as they have struggled to score as of late.

However, the Rays kept getting chances, and finally came through. After Ben Zobrist walked with two outs in the seventh, Evan Longoria laced a double to the gap in right, cutting the lead to one. James Loney followed up with a solo home run in the eighth, and suddenly, the Rays appeared to have broken through.

Then everything came apart in the top of the tenth. The typically reliable Joel Peralta came in, and put runners on first and second with a pair of walks surrounding a sacrifice bunt. At that point, manager Joe Maddon rolled the dice, bringing in sinkerballer Roberto Hernandez to attempt to get the double play. After a four pitch walk to Napoli, the dice came up snake eyes as pinch hitter Mike Carp crushed the first pitch he saw to dead center for a grand slam. Deflated, the Rays were unable to mount a comeback, and the Red Sox took a heartbreaker from the Rays.

Peralta took the loss, falling to 2-7 on the season as he gave up two runs on two walks while recording the one out. Cobb got through his start reasonably well, surviving a rough third to give up only three runs on seven hits and three walks in 5.2 innings. Longoria was 2-3 with two doubles and a walk in the loss. The Rays will hope to salvage a game against Boston on Thursday night, with Jeremy Hellickson matching up against Jake Peavy at 7:10 PM.