- Kevin Tall
- Jeremy Hellickson; stock photo
A loss is a loss, so any of them is tough to take. Playing well in defeat is a concept seemingly lost—see what I did there?—on some fans, so while people around baseball might not fault the Tampa Bay Rays for their 11th-inning setback Friday night at the home of the Toronto Blue Jays, the fan jury is till out...
The Rays got right down to it Friday night in Toronto, putting a run on the board in the top of the first inning. Sam Fuld led off with a base hit and promptly picked up his eighth stolen base of the year— tying him for the most in the majors—moving into second. Fuld advanced to third on Johnny Damon’s ground out to second and scored on a sacrifice fly by B.J. Upton, giving Tampa Bay an early one-run lead.
In addition to being early, that lead was also short-lived. Rays’ starting pitcher Jeremy Hellickson started his evening by striking out Yunel Escobar with three pitches but gave up a two-out double to Toronto’s hard-hitting Jose Bautista; Bautista scored on a base hit by Adam Lind to tie it up.
Sean Rodriguez led off the top of the second with a walk and was involved in an ugly collision sliding into second on a double play attempt by Toronto’s Jayson Nix. Rodriguez was thrown out on the play and nix was taken out after getting clipped by Rodriguez’s errant leg on the slide. It would be premature to call the play bush-league or dirty but “clean” the last word anyone would use. Here’s hoping it was an unfortunate accident and just part of the game; Nix left the game with a day-to-day knee injury.
Fuld picked up another single, this one a one-out base hit to center that buzzed Toronto starting pitcher Jo Jo Reyes. He moved into second on Damon’s ground out and stole third base to sit alone atop Major League Baseball with nine stolen bases (Michael Bourn of the Houston Astros now has nine as well). Upton singled him home to give the Rays a 2-1 lead in what was clearly set to be a tight, back-and-forth game.