Rays show signs of life, lose 5-4 to San Diego

Make no mistake, the Rays kept themselves in it ‘til the very end of the game: a strikeout by Evan Longoria. They put together a complete inning in the sixth, with B.J Upton doubling home Carlos Pena and later scoring on a sacrifice fly by the pinch-hitting Will Aybar after having stolen third base. Sean Rodriguez launched a solo home run to dead center before Jason Bartlett struck out. It was refreshing to see them turn what was starting to look like another evening of just going through the motions back into a game by getting multiple hits in an inning. It might sound like a simple thing to wish for, but if you think that, you're clearly just now tuning in and haven't watched the Rays play lately.

In addition to that offensive spark, the Rays showed some dogged determination in the ninth inning. After Rodriguez flied out to the warning track in left field, Jason Bartlett cracked a double for an immediate scoring threat. Catcher John Jaso grounded out to first and advanced J.B. to third, from which he would score as Carl Crawford next reached on an error. Alas, it was all for naught, as Longoria went down swinging to bring the comeback effort to a close. I'm just happy it took more than a single inning's offensive production by the Padres to score the winning run.

Walk this way

I’m a lot less troubled by this loss than by some others in recent memory. James Shields rocked his change up very well Wednesday evening. The team didn’t go down without a fight, unlike several of the games in the last week. The real issue I have is the matter of accomplishing nothing with seven walks.

Seven free bases. You have to do something with that, either by stealing or clutch hitting to follow. The latter seems like an unreasonable request of late, but it all comes down to smarter at-bats. If the opposing pitcher wants to walk Rays hitters all night long, let him, but make him pay for it. They scored two runs in Saturday night’s win against the Marlins by taking walks with the bases loaded. You can’t strand a guy who used his head instead of swinging freely. Doing something with those walks would have been the difference in this game.

The Tampa Bay Rays got it together for a full inning Wednesday night, scoring three runs in the sixth inning to tie the game against the San Diego Padres at three runs apiece. Persistence by the San Diego batters paid off, as they scored twice more; that would be enough for a win against a Rays team that threatened late but just couldn’t get it together.

James Shields turned in his best start in weeks but still gave up four runs on six hits, pitching through seven innings. He managed to strike out seven batters and yielded only one base on balls. Shields didn’t get the run support he needed, as the Rays squandered seven walks by San Diego pitchers. They left men in scoring position multiple times in a game that reeked of missed opportunity.

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