Rays News

Game 117: Grant Balfour Blows Another Lead, Rays Fall In Extras

By Fletcher Keel

The Tampa Bay Rays entered Sunday’s throwback day at Wrigley Field looking to sweep the National League’s Chicago Cubs, and despite six strong innings from Alex Cobb. The Rays bullpen couldn’t hold a one-run lead and the offense couldn’t get going against the Cubs staff as Tampa dropped the series finale 3-2 in 12 innings.

Cobb finished the day going six innings and scattered six hits while striking out six batters, allowing only one run – a Javier Baez RBI single in the bottom of the fifth. It was the fifth RBI for the Cubs star prospect in his five games since getting called up. Cubs’ starter Travis Wood also went six innings and allowed two less hits than his counterpart while striking out five and allowing three free passes. The only run Wood gave up came in the top half of the fifth inning, when Desmond Jennings singled home Curt Casali for the opening run of the game.

Jennings batted the second, and final, Rays’ run in as well in the top of the seventh inning off Neil Ramirez when he doubled into center field and brought Brandon Guyer in. In the inning Rays’ TV broadcaster, and former Cubs voice, Dewayne Staats made a return to his former confines and provided the call on the Cubs broadcast, and he also sang “Take Me Out to the Ballgame,” at the stretch.

Chris Coghlan provided the equalizer after the stretch on a full count curveball from Grant Balfour, who once again let Rays fans down in a tight game.

From that point, it was a whole lot of nothing, as both bullpens were virtually untouchable, until the 12th inning with Cesar Ramos on the mound for Tampa. With Coghlan at second base, Ramos struck Baez out swinging, but the pitch was in the dirt, which allowed Baez to take first base anyway, and moved Coghlan up to third. Another ball that got away from Casali moved Baez up to second, but it proved to not matter, as Anthony Rizzo sent a 1-0 pitch over the head of Kevin Kiermaier in the two-manned outfield to win the game.

Combined, 14 pitchers were used in the game, with Ramos taking the loss for the Rays and Carlos Villanueva recording his fifth win of the season for Chicago. There is a bit of good news as the Rays set a new team milestone in extra innings with Brad Boxberger on the mound, as the Rays pitching staff struck out 41 Cubs over the three game series – the most against any opponent in that game span (breaking a record against Seattle from July of 2012).

The Rays will remain on the road and head to the lone-star state, as Drew Smyly will take on Colby Lewis and the Texas Rangers. First pitch is set for 8:05.