The Tampa Bay Rays dropped the rubber game of their series with the Los Angeles Angels 7-5, falling behind early and never quite doing enough to come back.
Jake Odorizzi displayed his whole arsenal in his first 8 pitches thrown, but was just missing his spots and seemed unable to establish a feel for the strike zone. Odorizzi was unable to get a strike when he needed it no matter which he threw. He threw 36 pitches and gave up 2 runs before recording his first out. He finally got a strikeout to end the inning, but he had allowed the Angels to bat around, throwing 46 pitches and allowing 5 runs on 5 hits and 2 walks. Jake Odorizzi wouldn’t allow any more runs, but had to be replaced after only 3 innings.
The Rays fought back throughout the game, but Jered Weaver wasn’t giving anything up easily. James Loney extended his on-base streak to 22 games, doubling in the second. Then, in the fourth inning, the Rays loaded the bases with one out on a ducksnort single by Loney over the shortstop, a Yunel Escobar single up the middle, and a Logan Forsythe single to the opposite field. Jose Molina hit a sac fly to score Loney from third, but that would be it from that situation.
The Rays again scored in the fifth after Zobrist singled, advanced to second on Matt Joyce’s walk, and then, in a shocking turn of events, Evan Longoria laid down a bunt that went down as a sacrifice. Longoria wasn’t simply trying to move the runners over–he was hoping to surprise the Angels and get a base hit–but it is deflating to see your cleanup hitter take the bats out of his hands and try to lay down a bunt when it seemed like the Rays had Weaver on the ropes. Loney followed with a sac fly to score Zobrist, but you have to wonder what could have happened had Longoria swung away.
The game was delayed for a bit in the 3rd inning as there was a thunder-storm in the St. Petersburg area that knocked out some of the Trop’s lights. Joe Maddon may have been happy to let the delay linger and cool off Weaver in the Angels’ dugout, but to no avail. The Rays seemed relatively comfortable in the batter’s box against Weaver, getting 6 hits and 4 walks in his 6 innings, but they simply could not deliver the big hits they needed to get back in the game. Weaver held the Rays to just 1 for 9 with runners in scoring position in the contest.
Kirby Yates, outstandingly, sat down all 6 batters he faced, striking out 3. However, Jeff Beliveau gave up two runs on 4 hits in 1.1 innings pitched, and while not particularly significant at the time, it made the Rays’ comeback trail only harder. Cesar Ramos, Grant Balfour, and Jake McGee held the Angels off the board for the rest of the game.
James Loney, who finished the day with 3 hits, a sac fly, and a pair of RBI, capped his day with an RBI single in the 7th inning. Longoria also managed a hit in that frame and scored on a Kevin Jepsen wild pitch. That 7th inning was when the Rays did the majority of their damage as Forsythe came up a few batters later as the tying run, and battled against Jepsen to earn a critical 13-pitch walk to load the bases with one out. Pinch-hitter Cole Figueroa then worked a full-count two-out walk against side-armer Joe Smith to score Loney, climbing the Rays to within 2 runs of LA. Unfortunately, that would be as close as they would come.
Zobrist misread a few balls in right (one in the first, one off Josh Hamilton’s bat in the 7th that led to one of the runs Beliveau allowed) and seemed to long for the infield. He may not have too long to wait, since on Monday, Wil Myers will go through live BP in Charlotte, then work out in St. Petersburg on Wednesday. If all goes well, he’ll start his rehab assignment in Durham by this weekend.