Tampa Bay Rays Game 82: Two Bullpen Collapses

By Robbie Knopf

The Tampa Bay Rays are finding new ways to lose. What else is there to say? In this game, Kevin Cash let Chris Archer throw 122 pitches as he tossed shutout ball for 6.2 frames. The Rays took a 3-0 lead into the bottom of the eighth after receiving an RBI double by Evan Longoria and sac flies from James Loney and Rene Rivera. But then Kevin Jepsen collapsed, allowing a Mark Teixeira 3-run homer in that eighth frame to knot the game up at 3.

The game went into extras, but the Rays rallied in the 12th, scoring on RBI singles by Kevin Kiermaier and Rivera. In came Steve Geltz for the save, but his recent struggles continued and they couldn’t have been much worse. He recorded just one out while allowing a Brett Gardner walk, an Alex Rodriguez single, a Teixeira RBI single, and then a walk-off 3-run homer by Brian McCann. How can that happen? How can that happen in the same game that it happened to Jepsen? How can the Rays blow a 2-run lead in extra innings? The questions just go on.

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The only real questionable decision from Cash was taking out Jake McGee in favor of Jepsen in the eighth inning. McGee had only faced one batter, striking him out Jose Pirela, and while he had pitched on Thursday, he hasn’t pitched in any of the four days prior. Why didn’t McGee go out for the next frame? Up next was the lefty-hitting Gardner, and second was switch-hitter Chase Headley, who swings better from the left side against right-handed pitchers. Jepsen happened to strike Gardner out before  giving up a single to Headley, but why not let McGee start that inning? And especially if he retired Gardner and Headley quickly, him facing Alex Rodriguez certainly wouldn’t be out of the question. As we know, he is excellent against righties as well as lefties.

Had everything remained the same, McGee might have been able to hold the lead and hand the ball to Brad Boxberger in a 3-0 or at least a 3-1 game in the ninth. Of course, we never know what actually would have happened, and the decision wouldn’t have loomed so large had Geltz not come apart later in the game. Geltz has been great on the whole this season while Jepsen has looked good aside from a rough patch. This game was aberrant. But no matter what we want to call it, the Rays scored 5 runs and lost despite a great outing from Chris Archer. That can’t happen.

Tomorrow, Nate Karns goes for the Tampa Bay Rays against Michael Pineda at 1:05 PM as the Rays desperately need a win.

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