Make us your home page

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, defense, baserunning cost Tampa Bay Rays in 7-3 loss to Cleveland Indians

ST. PETERSBURG — Rays manager Joe Maddon approached struggling third baseman Evan Longoria near the clubhouse with an idea before Saturday's game against the Indians.

"Promise you won't think I'm crazy,'' Maddon said to him.

"(Longoria) was expecting me to tell him I wanted him lower in the batting order. I said, 'I'd like you to lead off.' "

Mired in a 4 for 33 slide that dropped his average to .209 entering the game, Longoria responded with a single in his first at-bat and a solo home run to dead centerfield in his second, and he reached base three times.

Maddon said he wanted to take off Longoria the pressure of trying to drive in runs all the time. "Why not get out there and be driven in, and let's see how that works?'' he said.

It worked for Longoria, but not the rest of the Rays.

Tampa Bay (27-24) continued its perplexing offensive malaise at Tropicana Field in a 7-3 loss to Cleveland, going 2-for-9 with runners in scoring position to lose for the sixth time in eight games.

The Rays, who are averaging 5.5 runs on the road but an American League-worst three at home, got another solid, if not spectacular, performance from starter James Shields, who was roughed up for three runs and five hits in the first two innings but allowed only two more hits until he was replaced in the eighth.

"I made a few mistakes there in the first inning, and that ended up costing us at the end of the game,'' Shields said. "My job was to go deep in the game and try to keep us in the game as long as I can. I did my job (Saturday), but unfortunately, we lost.''

Longoria's home run in the third and Sean Rodriguez's safety squeeze bunt for a hit to score Matt Joyce in the fourth off starter Carlos Carrasco cut the Indians' lead to 3-2. That's the way it stayed until the eighth, when an error by Rays second baseman Ben Zobrist on a potential double-play ball put reliever J.P. Howell in a deep hole and the Indians scored four times without Howell recording an out. Three of the runs were unearned.

"The big play was the ground ball that could've been a double play that we did not turn in the eighth inning,'' Maddon said.

Howell made it worse by hitting the next batter, rightfielder Shin-Soo Choo, before pinch-hitter Shelley Duncan singled in two runs with a single off the top of the wall padding in leftfield.

"I've got to pick up Ben right there,'' Howell said. "I mean, he's done it for me plenty of times in the past.''

The Rays, who also got two hits each from Casey Kotchman and Rodriguez, made the Indians resort in the ninth to using closer Chris Perez, who recorded his 14th save without retiring a batter.

With the bases loaded and two out, Johnny Damon reached on an error by first baseman Matt LaPorta. But Longoria, who had walked, thought the ball was headed down the rightfield line based on the response of the crowd of 24,717. By the time he reached third, Rodriguez was forced in a rundown for the final out.

"It was a weird sequence of events,'' Longoria said. "When the ball was hit behind me, when I heard the crowd cheer, I thought it went down the line. It was just a bad baserunning mistake on my part.''

But Longoria, who missed 26 games this season with a strained oblique, felt more comfortable at the plate. "Joe, he usually presses the right buttons a lot of the time,'' Longoria said.

Did he expect to be back in the leadoff spot today in the series finale?

"I guarantee you I'll be in there,'' Longoria said. "You can bet on it with Joe. He rides the hot hand.''

Indians 7

Rays 3

Bullpen, defense, baserunning cost Tampa Bay Rays in 7-3 loss to Cleveland Indians 05/28/11 [Last modified: Sunday, May 29, 2011 12:21am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Tampa Bay Super Bowls: A brief history and some predictions for 2021


    At last, Tampa will host a Super Bowl again. It used to be that the Cigar City would host one a decade, but by the time February 2021 rolls around, it will have been 12 years since the epic showdown between the Steelers and Cardinals. Because it has been awhile, let's revisit those past Super Bowls while also peering …

    Santonio Holmes hauls in the game-winning touchdown in the Steelers' 27-23 Super Bowl XLIII victory over the Cardinals in 2009, the last time Tampa hosted a Super Bowl. [JAMES BORCHUCK | Times]
  2. Rays bats go silent in second straight loss to Angels (w/video)

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — Sure, Alex Cobb was to blame for the Rays' 4-0 loss on Tuesday.

    Derek Norris strikes out with the bases loaded as the Rays blow a golden opportunity in the seventh inning.
  3. Marc Topkin's takeaways from Tuesday's Rays-Angels game

    The Heater

    RHP Alex Cobb made mistakes on back-to-back pitches to the first two Angels hitters Tuesday, allowing homers to Cameron Maybin and Mike Trout, but otherwise gave the Rays another solid outing, working into the eighth and scattering seven hits.

  4. Rays journal: Brad Miller won't return from DL when eligible

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — 2B Brad Miller (left abdominal strain) will not return from the 10-day disabled list Friday as he hoped. While he took ground balls Tuesday, he has yet to resume running.

    Rays second baseman Brad Miller, left, with infielder Tim Beckham, says he’s letting his left abdominal strain “cool down” before testing it by running.
  5. USF baseball rallies to beat Tulane in AAC tournament opener


    CLEARWATER — With Tulane runners on first and second and two out in the top of the ninth inning Tuesday, USF's dugout watched as burly American Athletic Conference co-player of the year Hunter Williams' fly to left went deep.

    USF outfielder Chris Chatfield is congratulated by third-base coach Chris Cates after hitting a three-run homer in the third inning, tying the score at 3.