Mistakes Cost Rays Against Tigers

By on July 2, 2012
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St. Petersburg, Fla.- On Sunday morning, all teams in the rightfully vaunted AL East teams were still above .500. However, the Rays are losers of 7 of their last 10 and now tied for third with the Red Sox at 6.5 back of the Yankees and 1.5 behind the second place Orioles. That’s right the second place Orioles! Huh? With the way this topsy-turvy season is headed, we at Rocket Sports and Entertainment had to take a trip to Tropicana Field and see for ourselves.

With the All-Star break bearing down, the Tampa Bay Rays (41-38) find themselves slipping in the standings in the best division in baseball. The Rays dropped the Sunday game 5-3 against the Detroit Tigers (39-40) in the final game of a four game series. The Rays dropped three out of four in the series with Detroit and struggled offensively in the final game.

The Rays got their three runs on five hits with one walk. The Tigers, on the other hand, hammered out 10 hits and got 5 RBI from five different players. The balance of the Tigers’ lineup was on full display and got most of their production from the bottom half of the order.

The Rays had an exciting first inning. In the top of the frame, starting pitcher Alex Cobb snagged a comebacker hit back at him to retire leadoff man Austin Jackson in a 1-2-3 first, all ground ball outs. In the Rays’ half of the first they defined how to manufacture a run. Jennings walked to lead off, stole second, advanced to third on a wild pitch and finally scored on sac fly by B.J. Upton. The Rays led 1-0 through the first without a hit.

The Rays struggled offensively against Detroit starter, Drew Smyly, and didn’t get their first hit until a leadoff double by Ben Zobrist in the fifth broke up the no-hit bid. Manager Joe Maddon loaded the Rays’ lineup with right-handed and switch-hitters against the young lefty, but Maddon’s scheme didn’t pay off this time.

“We just don’t hit well against these guys (Tigers), that’s been going on for a couple of years now… you gotta score more points than that.” Maddon said.

As much as the offense struggled, the pitching was only a bit better. Cobb lasted 5 1/3 innings and allowed all 5 runs (4 earned) on 100 pitches (64 strikes) with 3 strikeouts and 2 walks. Although Cobb didn’t have the best game, he wasn’t completely down after the game.

Alex Cobb said after the game, “I was going along smoothly for the first three innings. In the fourth, ran into some trouble and it carried over into the fifth. You know, it’s a good hitting team, they got to me and made me pay for a couple mistakes.”

Joe Maddon said, “He (Cobb) was ok. He wasn’t great, he wasn’t awful. We made him throw more pitches in that one inning, he could have been out relatively easy and his pitch count would have been less than.”

Late in the game the Rays were burnt by a base running mistake and an unearned run from earlier in the game, both of which have occurred all too often for the Rays. The unearned run came after the top of the fourth was kept alive by an Elliot Johnson error. With Prince Fielder on first, Johnson misplayed a grounder and messed up a force at second on a ball that may have been turned for a double play. Fielder led off the inning with a single and came around to score after a single by Alex Avila loaded the bases and Ryan Raburn drove in Fielder with a single. Cobb did manage to work out of that bases-loaded jam with no outs, only allowing the one unearned run.

The base running mistake came in the seventh. With Zobrist on second and Hideki Matsui on first with one out, Zobrist tried to steal third and was thrown out easily. Despite already being in scoring position with the Rays down two, Zobrist took an unnecessary risk as Matsui was the run that mattered at that point in the game.

After the game, Maddon justified Zobrist’s failed steal attempt. “That’s just a tough read. The ball clanks the catcher’s mitt. When you’re at second you can’t really in that situation tell how far it’s gone away. Right I think Zo (Zobrist) was trying to make something happen. He made a mistake in judgment and they made us pay.”

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Though it was a tough day for the Rays, there was a bit of excitement with the All-Star teams being announced. Fernando Rodney, who pitched in relief just to get some work in, was named to the All-Star team this year. Rodney was named the All-Star team for the first time in his career, which may come as a surprise since he had some quality years with the Tigers. Rodney, who recorded 37 saves with Detroit in 2009, became the oldest Rays player to be elected to the All-Star team and the fifth oldest active first-time to be selected. Teammate and fellow All-Star David Price said he’s happy for Rodney.

David Price was happy for his teammate Rays’ closer Fernando Rodney, “He’s well deserved first and

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Maddon is pleased about Price and Rodney being All-stars, “I’m really pleased. We all, I guess pretty much felt David would make it. I’m really pleased for that Fernando made it also. I think he truly deserves it.” Joe said after the game.

After Kyle Farnsworth went down with injuries, imagine if someone said the Rays closer would make the All-Star game? How about if the Rays would be second worst MLB in errors? The team with the most errors, ironically, is second-place Baltimore. It’s been a pretty unbelievable first half for the Rays.

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