Game 19: Tampa Bay Rays Miss Opportunities, Lose in 12

By Robbie Knopf

Let’s rattle off the lucky breaks the Tampa Bay Rays had in their game against the New York Yankees on Sunday. 1) They were facing Vidal Nuno instead of one of the Yankees’ established starters like say Masahiro Tanaka, who goes tomorrow against the Boston Red Sox. 2) Cesar Ramos started…and actually pitched extremely well. 3) James Loney was safe at second base on one of those crazy transfer plays at second base in the 7th. 4) Carlos Beltran‘s foul flyball off of Joel Peralta in the top of the 8th missed a home run by inches. 4) A Mark Teixeira error gave the Rays an extra out in the bottom of the frame. 5) With the help of replay, Jose Molina caught Ichiro Suzuki stealing in the top of the 11th. 6) Another error by Dean Anna gave the Rays yet another baserunner in the bottom of the 11th. 7) Brett Gardner looked like he was going to score easily on Brian McCann‘s RBI single off C.J. Riefenhauser before being held up at third base.

We will end there, but there are a few other possibilities, like the fact that a good throw from Beltran could have gotten Loney at home in the 7th if he had anything on his throw (it took two hops). But in any event, the Rays seemingly had everything going their way in Sunday’s contest yet simply could not execute well enough to come away with a win. They wasted a very good outing by Ramos, who went 5 innings allowing just 1 run on 4 hits, striking out 3 while walking 1, and a combined 4.2 perfect innings of relief by Jake McGee, Peralta, and Grant Balfour. C.J. Riefenhauser also looked good before allowing the Yankees’ first run in the 12th inning to score on one of the few things that went against the Rays all day, a check swing where Anna just hanged up to draw a walk. Joe Maddon went to Riefenhauser in a big spot, and the young lefty could not come through, but his arsenal and his poise are real, and he could emerge as a major part of the Rays’ bullpen before the season is through.

On the negative side, there was Josh Lueke, who took away any chance the Rays had at coming back by allowing 3 runs in just a third of an inning in the 12th. You keep wanting to believe in Lueke because of his mid-90’s fastball and good curveball, but at a certain point, enough is enough. Juan Carlos Oviedo is coming back plus Brad Boxberger deserves to be in the major leagues, and we have to think that it is only a matter of time until Lueke is designated for assignment. The Tampa Bay Rays have an off-day on Monday before starting a series against the Minnesota Twins on Tuesday.