This was the second game in a row that the Tampa Bay Rays had no business winning, and they actually lost this one by a 5-3 score. Other than Brandon Gomes, who can more accurately be described as a “picker-offer” than a pitcher in this game as he picked Elvis Andrus off without throwing a single pitch, every single arm that the Rays sent to the hill pitched poorly.
Nate Karns started and lasted just 4.2 innings allowing 2 runs on 2 hits, striking out 4 while walking 5. Karns’ control has been excellent since he walked 4 batters 3 times in his first 4 starts–he entered this game having walked as many as 3 batters just once since then. Unfortunately, it was off in this game and it put the Rays bullpen in a rough position. Xavier Cedeno replaced him and tossed 1.1 perfect innings, but even that is misleading as Kevin Kiermaier needed to rob a home run to keep the Rays in front 3-2.
There is less ambiguity about the struggles of Steve Geltz, who threw a horribly-placed fastball to let up Delino DeShields Jr.‘s first homer of the season, and Jake McGee, whose command was spotty as he allowed a trio of hard hits and two runs. McGee deservingly took the loss and Geltz should receive a good deal of blame as well, but it must be said that everything would have different had Karns looked sharper and lasted longer.
It isn’t as though the offense was that great either, although it might have been enough on another night. Evan Longoria drilled a two-out, two-run double in the third inning while Asdrubal Cabrera and Desmond Jennings each went 3 for 4. It is great to see Cabrera stay red-hot, and Jennings’ return to the team got off to a great start. Jennings and Cabrera each singled with two outs in both the sixth and eighth innings, with Tim Beckham walking to give the Rays a bases-loaded opportunity in the former frame, but Kiermaier grounded out in the sixth while Beckham struck out in the eighth.
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The struggles with runners in scoring position are nothing new–at least the Rays got three runs–but what happened in the seventh has to drive the Rays crazy. Curt Casali led off the inning with a double off Sam Dyson, and it looked like he safely made it to third base on Grady Sizemore‘s groundout to first. It appeared that Adrian Beltre missed a first tag on him and then Casali’s hand never left the bag when Beltre tagged him again. The call on the field was safe, but somehow there was enough evidence on the field to overturn it and a runner-on-third, one-out situation became bases empty with two outs. That insurance run could have loomed large.