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Game 149: Brad Boxberger’s Continued Struggles Send Rays to Loss

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Brad Boxberger has been unbelievable for the Tampa Bay Rays this season, but the last two days have been a different story. Boxberger allowed a home run for the second straight appearance, this time a two-run shot to Adam Lind in the seventh inning, to send the Rays to a a 6-3 loss to the Toronto Blue Jays.

The Rays allowed 6 runs to the Jays in the game, but they all came in two disastrous innings. The first of those frames had more to do with bad luck than anything else. After the Rays had taken a 2-0 lead on a Evan Longoria RBI groundout and an R.A. Dickey run-scoring wild pitch, a sequence of weak hits made their advantage evaporate. It all started when Jeremy Hellickson struck out Ryan Goins, but the ball got past Jose Molina, allowing Goins to reach. Anthony Gose followed with a groundball single before Hellickson made a throwing error on Jose Reyes‘ bunt, scoring Goins. Then a swinging bunt by Jose Bautista scored a second run before an Adam Lind groundout scored a third. Nothing was hit particularly hard, but BAbip, Jeremy Hellickson’s friend for such a long time, deserted him once again. His defense failing him was just as surprising. That was Hellickson’s only bad inning as he went 6 innings allowing 3 runs, 2 earned, on 4 hits, striking out 8 while walking 4.

Evan Longoria ensured tied the game for Hellickson in the top of the sixth as he drilled a game-tying home run off Dickey. But Boxberger gave it back and then some in the bottom of the following frame. He recorded just one out before departing after Lind’s blast, and Steve Geltz proceeded to allow another homer, Edwin Encarnacion‘s 31st of the season. The Rays did get the tying run to the plate in the eighth inning, but Brett Cecil struck out Longoria and James Loney to ensure that the Jays’ lead would not slip away. Brandon Gomes looked sharp in the ninth inning, striking out 2 in a perfect frame, but it proved irrelevant in the Toronto win.

The loss was tough, but the three positive takeaways from this game were Jeremy Hellickson, Brandon Gomes, and Evan Longoria. After being iffy in his last three starts, it was great to see Hellickson deliver a solid outing, especially after how bad things were looking in that third inning. His control of all of his pitches was off at times, but he battled through it to depart in a tie game. Gomes, meanwhile, looked very impressive, especially with his splitter. He added and subtracted velocity from it from 79 to 84 MPH, and he also showed the ability to throw the pitch to both sides of the plate. After throwing two splitters away to Ryan Goins in the ninth, he threw a nasty splitter inside to Goins to strike him out. Finally, Longoria continues to look like the player we are used to seeing as he drilled his homer and also a double. He has a .275/.333/.522 line in his last 76 plate appearances as he hopes to finish the season strong.

Despite the disappointment of this game, the Rays can still win their series against the Blue Jays with a win on Sunday. Chris Archer will oppose Mark Buehrle with first pitch lined up for 1:07 PM.

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