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Tampa Bay Rays Game 38: Kevin Jepsen’s Error Haunts

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The Tampa Bay Rays are now simply hoping to salvage a game in their series with the Minnesota Twins after losing 6-4 on Saturday afternoon.

The offense wasn’t so bad by Rays standards in this game. Alex Colome put them down 3-0 and failed to get out of the fourth inning, but a Logan Forsythe sac fly brought them within 3-1 in the top of the fourth before a Tim Beckham two-run homer knotted the game in the seventh. Forsythe also got the Rays a fourth run in the ninth on a solo homer. If the Rays bullpen had done well, that might have gone down as a go-ahead homer by Forsythe. Instead, the Rays bullpen got beat, and by mental mistakes as much as bad pitching.

Colome wound up going 3.1 innings allowing 3 runs on 6 hits, striking out none while walking 1. He had some bad luck as three of his hits came on groundballs and another came on a bloop flyball, but the bigger deal was that he had no feel for his secondary pitches and simply could not put hitters away. It was the second straight poor outing for Colome after his major league stint got off to a great start, and he will hope to turn that around. The Rays will keep showing confidence in him for now.

Colome’s short outing necessitated a long relief stint, and Andrew Bellatti was on the roster for exactly such a spot. He proceeded to have issues with control, walking a batter in each of his innings (counting when he entered for Colome in the fourth). In the sixth, he got into especially big trouble when he allowed a walk and a double to start the frame. However, he worked out of trouble in each instance, with Rene Rivera helping him out by throwing out an attempted basestealer in the fifth and Bellatti helping himself in the following frame, striking out the side.

Bellatti is now back at Durham as Nick Franklin returns to the Rays. However, he certainly made a good impression, and now that he’s on the 40-man roster, we could expect to see him again in a long relief role. Bellatti began the season as a sleeper, but he is now a step above that–a pitcher who looked good in a limited sample with the Rays and might be able to improve their bullpen. We will have to see when he earns a more extended chance to show what he can do.

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After Bellatti, though, everything fell apart for the Rays bullpen. Kevin Jepsen entered in the seventh inning rather than the eighth for the second straight game, and once again, the go-ahead run came in to score. With one out, Jepsen allowed a single to Torii Hunter and a walk to Joe Mauer, but then a Trevor Plouffe groundball that could have been an inning-ending double play instead turned into a Jepsen error to load the bases. Even if he had just gotten one out, Kurt Suzuki‘s sac fly would have instead ended the inning and Eduardo Escobar‘s RBI single never wound have happened.

Ernesto Frieri tossed the eighth with the Rays down 5-3 and made it 6-3 on Brian Dozier‘s solo home run. Frieri has looked fine at times for the Tampa Bay Rays this season, but he can’t keep the ball in the yard and that is a huge problem. His 5 homers are more than every Rays starting pitcher except for Nate Karns and as much as Jake Odorizzi and Chris Archer combined. If Frieri can’t stop making the mistakes that are leading to those blasts, it may be worthwhile for the Rays to cut ties with him.

The loss takes the Rays to 20-18 on the season, and they will look for at least one win in Minnesota as Chris Archer hopes to get the better of Kyle Gibson.

Next: The Undercards: Boog Powell Hits First Homer

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