Make us your home page
Instagram

Get the quickest, smartest news, analysis and photos from the Bucs game emailed to you shortly after the final whistle.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Bullpen betrays Rays in 7-4, season-opening loss to Orioles

ST. PETERSBURG

The setting seemed so promising Tuesday. A full house celebrating opening day at the Trop, an emotional tribute to Don Zimmer on the field, ace David Price on the mound and Evan Longoria at third, even a public chit-chat between principal owner Stuart Sternberg and St. Petersburg Mayor Bill Foster.

Though not everything was perfect — too much gong-banging and scoreboard dog barking, Price not having his best stuff, the offense looking familiarly feeble — it still looked by late afternoon that things were going to end up going the Rays' way.

Price, despite admittedly not having Cy Young stuff, had battled to get through six innings. Longoria, and outfielder Sam Fuld, made a half-dozen highlight-worthy plays. The hitters found a way to do just enough to hand the bullpen a one-run lead in the seventh.

And then Jake McGee messed it all up.

A couple of misplaced pitches from the hard-throwing lefty, and the first day of a Rays season filled with great promise ended in disappointment, with a 7-4 loss to the Orioles.

"It's real tough," McGee said. "That was the turning point of everything pretty much."

The Rays had "rallied" to take a 3-2 lead — scoring two in the sixth on one hit (with a walk, bunt and sac fly) — when McGee, who was quietly one of the league's most dominant relievers last season, came in. A couple of ground ball singles with one out created trouble, then with two outs he made his own mess.

Missing not by 1 inch but by about 8, McGee left an 0-and-2 fastball, albeit 98 mph, that was supposed to be up and away right over the plate, and Adam Jones turned it into a two-run double. "Pretty much crosshairs," manager Joe Maddon said of the pitch.

After an intentional walk to Matt Wieters, McGee made his second mistake, a cutter that was more of a spinner, and Chris Davis launched that into a three-run homer. "I thought Jake could get to Davis there," Maddon said. "I did not envision a homer."

It was a most unexpected outcome, considering McGee was almost untouchable last season, allowing no more than three runs in any game, no homers in his last 27 outings and 11 hits to right-handed hitters all season, a .098 average that was lowest in nearly 40 years. He gave up two Tuesday.

"The way it was lining up, their hitters vs. our bullpen, I kind of liked the whole setup," Maddon said. "But they got us."

Ben Zobrist made a point to console McGee walking off. Pitching coach Jim Hickey spoke with him in the dugout. Executive vice president Andrew Friedman walked through the clubhouse and gave him a pat of encouragement.

"I've got to make a little better pitch," McGee said.

Sternberg said before the game that the grand expectations and predictions of a World Series berth made him "very uneasy," and the outcome was certainly a reminder of the challenges ahead.

There were some positive signs. Price, despite looking unsettled and his fastball, per Maddon, not "as spiffy" as usual, got them through six innings with the lead, though throwing 100 pitches. The new guys showed well. Longoria, limited last season after returning from a hamstring injury and cautious at times this spring, was dazzling in the field, diving and making throws from his knees and his backside.

The details — and his Will Ferrell movie character analogy — were a bit fuzzy. "Kind of that Ron Burgundy (possibly Frank the Tank in Old School) moment where you just kind of black out and you don't really know what happened," he said.

But what was clear Tuesday was that what looked to be a good day ended up bad.

"I thought we were going to win this game 3-2, and that's typical of us," Zobrist said. "We have to hold on to those kind of leads for us to win these tight games, especially against a team as good as the Orioles. … Certain guys have to shake it off a little bit today. But it's the first day of the season, so you don't think too hard about it."

Marc Topkin can be reached at topkin@tampabay.com.

Bullpen betrays Rays in 7-4, season-opening loss to Orioles 04/02/13 [Last modified: Wednesday, April 3, 2013 12:27pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. After offseason of work hard, play hard, DeSean Jackson ready to produce for Bucs

    Bucs

    TAMPA — There's no telling what DeSean Jackson will do once he gets a football in his hands. Perhaps that's why a camera crew followed his every move Wednesday while the Bucs' new $30 million receiver stood on a step of the hot tub that empties into a spacious, azure pool at his new, sprawling five-bedroom home in …

    DeSean Jackson jokes around with girlfriend Kayla Phillips at their Tampa home as a crew from HBO’s Hard Knocks documents their day.
  2. Rays journal: Jake Odorizzi goes on 10-day DL with back strain

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — RHP Jake Odorizzi is hoping his struggles this season can be tied directly to the lower-back strain he has tried to pitch through since spring training. Toward that end, the Rays placed Odorizzi on the 10-day disabled list Wednesday retroactive to Tuesday.

    Rays center fielder Mallex Smith smiles after hitting a single advancing runners in the third inning. [CHRIS URSO   |   Times]
  3. Playoff chase heats up for Rays with critical series at Yankees up first (w/ video)

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG

    It was important that Evan Longoria crushed a two-run homer in the sixth inning Wednesday and Steven Souza Jr. blasted a solo shot off the farthest catwalk an inning later.

    Adeiny Hechavarria (11) and Tim Beckham (1) celebrate the double play to end the top of the sixth inning. [WILL VRAGOVIC   |   Times]
  4. Rays at Yankees, 7:05 p.m. Thursday, New York

    The Heater

    Tonight: at Yankees

    7:05, Yankee Stadium, New York

    TV/radio: Fox Sports Sun; 620-AM, 680-AM (Spanish)

    Tampa Bay Rays starting pitcher Chris Archer (22) throwing in the first inning of the game between the Texas Rangers and the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla. on Saturday, July 22, 2017.
  5. Roger Mooney's takeaways from Wednesday's Rays-Orioles game

    The Heater

    It is going to get interesting tonight when the Rays begin a four-game series against the Yankees in New York. The Rays feel they are good enough to win the East Division. These next four games and the four that follow in Houston will be a good measuring stick.