Game 148: Bullpen Crumbles As Rays Fall to Twins

By Robbie Knopf

So much of Joe Maddon‘s success as a manager is built on trust. The Rays’ front office gets him nothing but castaways from other organizations each offseason, and Maddon has to be confident that they know what they’re doing. And on a game to game basis, Maddon has become known as a manager who believes in his players, always continuing to have faith in them no matter how long their struggles last. In this past Wednesday’s game against the Red Sox, however, Maddon went against that, taking out Joel Peralta with 2 on and 1 out in favor of Roberto Hernandez. The results were diastrous. With that in game etched firmly in his memory, Maddon never removed Peralta from Sunday’s contest against the Twins and cost the Rays the game in the process.

The game began promisingly enough for the Rays. David Price tossed 6 shutout innings and a 2-run homer by Wil Myers along with a solo shot by Sean Rodriguez gave him a 3-0 lead. Price wasn’t as dominant as he usually is, allowing 5 hits and 2 walks while striking out 4, and the Rays were just 2 for 10 with runners in base, but we ignored that because the Rays seemed to be breezing their way to their 4th straight win. So often we forget that past events aren’t indicative of the future and it’s only a matter of time before players’ flaws are exposed. Price allowed 2 walks and a single in the bottom of the 7th before departing in favor of Jake McGee, and Chris Parmelee laced a 2-run single to make the score 3-2 Rays. Price went 6.1 innings allowing 2 runs on 6 hits, striking out 4 while walking 3. The 2 runs in 6.1 innings certainly isn’t bad, but he did not look right for the third time in his last four outings.

The Rays were able to answer in the top of the 8th on James Loney‘s RBI single. But with a chance to break the game open once again as they loaded the bases with 1 out, the Rays failed to deliver, instead placing a 2-run lead in the hands of Joel Peralta. Lately,  however, Peralta has been struggling, possibly wearing down after his heavy workload this season, and Sunday was his worst game yet. Peralta managed to work around iffy command to get 2 quick outs, but when he left a splitter up to Ryan Doumit and Doumit deposited it into the seats with a long home run. Peralta continuously missed up in the zone with his splitter and curveball as a single and a walk put the go-ahead run on base, but Maddon decided to stick with his veteran right-hander against Josmil Pinto. Pinto drilled a back-breaking 3-run homer to provide the Twins’ margin for victory in their 6-4 lead.

Two questions immediately come to mind at this game. Can Peralta rebound or do the Rays need to find another answer for a setup role? Will the Rays overcome this game or will it start anothet tailspin? We’ll find out on Monday as the Rays start a series with the Rangers. Alex Cobb takes on ex-Ray Matt Garza in the opener.