Maybe the positives from Tuesday night’s game for the Tampa Bay Rays against the Seattle Mariners will outweigh the negatives in the long-term. Alex Colome had a great outing, Evan Longoria delivered a huge game, and fill-ins like Jake Elmore and Joey Butler stepped up. At the end of the day, though, the Rays lost their fourth straight game and find themselves just one game over .500 and half a game back in the AL East. Maybe this game is the turning point, but for right now, it goes down as a frustrating loss.
Colome went 5.1 innings allowing 2 runs on 5 hits, striking out 3 while walking 2. After another rough first inning–seemingly the Rays have patented those–Colome rolled the rest of his outing, showing off the best cutter we have ever seen from him. Even that rough first featured factors out of Colome’s control. Austin Jackson singled to begin the game and broke for second base, but Nick Franklin could not handle Rene Rivera‘s somewhat offline throw, moving Jackson to third. He soon scored on a Seth Smith single.
Then, later in the frame, Seth Smith should have been out on Kyle Seager‘s groundball, but the umpires failed to overturn the call on the field. It certainly wasn’t an easy call, but after enough replays, we saw a shot that showed Smith being tagged out as definitely as we ever could have hoped for. Still, it seems that Major League Baseball only overturns calls when they are 100% sure they are wrong, and this one was only 99.9%. It cost the Rays.
The Rays quickly rebounded in the bottom of the first inning on Jake Elmore’s two-run single, and Elmore gave them the lead with an RBI hit in the third inning. The Rays stranded runners in scoring position in the second, third, and fifth innings, but they handed a 3-2 lead to their bullpen after Colome’s strong start, and it looked like that would be enough. Colome, Xavier Cedeno, and Steve Geltz combined on a scoreless sixth before Kevin Jepsen looked as sharp as ever as he struck out two in the seventh. The location problems were not his this time.
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The Rays stranded runners second and third with one out in the seventh inning, but once again, they were comfortable handing a 3-2 lead to Jake McGee and Brad Boxberger. However, McGee hadn’t pitched since May 21st and Boxberger since a three-pitch outing on the 22nd, and they both were rusty. McGee’s fastball came far short of its usual heights, dipping as low as 91 MPH. That led to a pair of singles, but McGee then forced Nelson Cruz to hit a groundball to Franklin, who proceeded to boot it. There were the bases loaded were nobody out, and Kyle Seager made the Rays pay, drilling a grand slam. McGee didn’t have it, and Franklin’s error only made things worse.
Ernesto Frieri managed to escape the inning without allowing another run before tossing a 1-2-3 ninth. After a series of rough outings, he also delivered a great game. Then, in the bottom of the ninth, ex-Ray Fernando Rodney entered the contest and his former team had his number. David DeJesus drilled a pinch-hit single before Brandon Guyer blooped one in right field. Joey Butler got hit by a pitch, giving the Rays their dream scenario: bases loaded and nobody out in the ninth with Evan Longoria coming to the plate.
Longoria got behind in the count 1-2, but he didn’t disappoint in the end. He was right on a changeup by Rodney, drilling it all the way to the wall in left. It hit the yellow bar, coming just short of a walk-off grand slam, but nevertheless went as a two-run double to pull the Rays within 6-5. Rodney got Logan Forsythe to pop out, but Elmore had a little bit more magic in him as he hit a groundball to third base that should have been a 5-4-3 double play if not for a poor throw from Robinson Cano. The Rays had tied the game at 6 and sent it into extra innings.
The Tampa Bay Rays had come all the way back only to have their hearts ripped out again on a Seager home run against Brad Boxberger in the 10th inning. The Rays only had one miracle rally in them on the evening as they finally lost to Seattle 7-6. It was a game full of mixed emotions. Longoria, Elmore, and Butler (who went 3 for 4) were heroes while Colome, Jepsen, and Frieri delivered some of their best work with the Rays. However, McGee and Boxberger collapsed entirely while Franklin in particular had a horrific game.
The Rays have lost their first two games to the Mariners and face their biggest challenge yet in their third contest: Felix Hernandez. Luckily for them, Chris Archer will be on their side to even out the matchup as much as possible. The Rays will hope to have selective memories and smile about Colome’s strong outing and the late comeback while ignoring the collapse in the bullpen and in the field.