Friday, January 19, 2018
Tampa Bay Rays

Rays blow 4-1 lead, lose to Blue Jays

ST. PETERSBURG

The scary — and sickening — sight Tuesday night of Blue Jays left-hander J.A. Happ getting struck in the head with a line drive, and being taken off the field on a stretcher, will put into perspective any late-inning defeat, no matter how bad.

The health of Happ, 30, who was reported to be in stable condition at Bayfront Medical Center, became the most immediate concern following the Rays' 6-4 loss to the Jays at Tropicana Field.

But the mental state of the Rays' (14-18) struggling bullpen has become the biggest worry in their early season slide after blowing another lead, this one a three-run cushion, to fall closer to last place in the American League East.

Thirteen of Tampa Bay's 18 losses have come in games in which it held a lead, the most in the majors, including improbably squandering a seven-run advantage Monday. Manager Joe Maddon said it's more of a "confidence thing" than anything else and it's one of those "anomaly moments," believing the bullpen will, by the end of the year, be one of the American League's best. But Maddon acknowledged there's no quick fix coming, they just have to be patient, while understanding it's "frustrating" for the fans and in the clubhouse.

"It's a bad stretch for almost everyone in the bullpen right now," said veteran Joel Peralta, who gave up the go-ahead solo homer to Maicer Izturis in the ninth. "Almost everyone is trying to make pitches, we're probably trying too hard. Sometimes the harder you try the worse it goes."

The Rays took a 4-1 lead in an eventful second inning, which included Happ's horrifying injury and Maddon getting ejected after another apparently blown call by home plate umpire Marty Foster.

When Sean Rodriguez was controversially called out at home after thinking he avoided the tag by catcher J.P. Arencibia and touched the plate with a head-first slide, Maddon argued and was tossed. The Rays continued their rally, with Desmond Jennings' liner caroming off the left side of Happ's head into the rightfield bullpen for a two-run triple. Jennings, who was shaken by the play, left without speaking to reporters after the game.

"Awful," Maddon said. "A very scary moment."

"It was jaw-dropping," Rodriguez said.

After an 11-minute delay, Happ was carted off the field, waving a hand to a loud ovation from the crowd of 10,273, which had become eerily silent as medical personnel attended to the seven-year veteran.

"Everyone was stunned and shocked," Jays manager John Gibbons said. "But you just keep plugging along."

That the Jays (13-21) did, even though Rays right-hander Roberto Hernandez had held them down for the first six innings, allowing one run and striking out seven.

"Roberto was outstanding," Maddon said. "That was his best performance all year."

But, once again, the Tampa Bay bullpen, which has an AL-high 5.19 ERA after being the league's best a year ago, couldn't finish the job. Lefty Jake McGee continued his season-long struggles, allowing a double and two-run homer in the seventh. Kyle Farnsworth gave up one in the eighth, making it tied going into the ninth, when the Jays scored two on Peralta.

Maddon said they're not going to make trades, or call others up from Triple A, to fix the situation. They're just going to stick with it and rebuild their confidence.

"This is a really good group," Maddon said. "We have a lot of confidence and faith in them. They're going to come together."

Joe Smith can be reached at [email protected]

Comments
Rays infielder Daniel Robertson lends a hand to help families dealing with cancer

Rays infielder Daniel Robertson lends a hand to help families dealing with cancer

Rays infielder Daniel Robertson has much to be excited about heading into his second season in the majors.But before packing for spring training, he took some time last weekend to provide help for families needing assistance in dealing with cancer.Hi...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Ex-Rays star Longoria dons Giants jersey, looks forward to full-stadium environment in San Francisco

Ex-Rays star Longoria dons Giants jersey, looks forward to full-stadium environment in San Francisco

Longtime Rays star Evan Longoria was formally introduced in San Francisco today, adding the visual of him pulling on his new Giants jersey, switching to No. 10 since 3 is retired.Longoria said he welcomed the chance to play on a contending team stock...
Updated: 2 hours ago
What do Rays look like now? What will they look like March 29?

What do Rays look like now? What will they look like March 29?

ST. PETERSBURG — Since entering an off-season planning major change and pledging to be open to "anything and everything,'' the Rays have made a few minor moves and one massive one in trading franchise cornerstone Evan Longoria to San Francisco....
Updated: 5 hours ago
Reminder: Rays spring tickets go on sale today at 10 a.m.

Reminder: Rays spring tickets go on sale today at 10 a.m.

The Rays will put single game tickets for spring training home games on sale today at 10 a.m. via raysbaseball.com.The Rays are playing 14 home games in Port Charlotte, starting with the Feb. 23 opener vs. Pittsburgh. Tickets will be available at the...
Updated: 8 hours ago
Tampa Bay Rays 2018 spring training schedule

Tampa Bay Rays 2018 spring training schedule

Charlotte Sports Park, 2300 El Jobean Rd., Port Charlotte, 33948Get tickets here: (941) 206-4487Pitchers report: Feb. 13. Squad reports: Feb. 19TEAM SCHEDULE(games at 1:05 unless noted)(ss - split squad)Feb 23 at Orioles (ss) (Sarasota)Feb 23 PIRATE...
Updated: 9 hours ago
Ex-Phillies, Indians manager Charlie Manuel to get Ted Williams Museum award

Ex-Phillies, Indians manager Charlie Manuel to get Ted Williams Museum award

Former Phillies and Indians manager Charlie Manuel will receive the Ted Williams Lifetime Achievement Award on Feb. 10 in Clearwater.The honor is bestowed by the Ted Williams Museum at its annual Hitters Hall of Fame induction, moving this year from ...
Updated: 9 hours ago
Former Rays OF Matt Joyce to hold annual charity baseball camp at North Brandon complex

Former Rays OF Matt Joyce to hold annual charity baseball camp at North Brandon complex

Armwood High product Matt Joyce, the current A's and former Rays outfielder, hosts his ninth annual Sweet Swingin' charity baseball camp for kids 6-12 on Sunday at the North Brandon youth baseball complex (2929 S Kingsway Rd, Seffner).Registration st...
Published: 01/18/18
Rays spring tickets go on sale Friday

Rays spring tickets go on sale Friday

The Rays will put single game tickets for spring training home games on sale Friday at 10 a.m. via raysbaseball.com.The Rays are playing 14 home games in Port Charlotte, starting with the Feb. 23 opener vs. Pittsburgh. Tickets will be available at th...
Published: 01/17/18
A look at Rays 40-man roster with spring training starting in less than a month

A look at Rays 40-man roster with spring training starting in less than a month

With the start of spring training now less than a month away, here is what the Rays roster looks like, with the most glaring hole at first base, which at this point seems likely to be manned by Brad Miller, and some questions about the pitching staff...
Published: 01/17/18
Rays opener will be late-afternoon affair

Rays opener will be late-afternoon affair

The Rays' March 29 season-opener against the Red Sox has been set for a 4 p.m. first pitch at Tropicana Field.This will be the ninth straight year the Rays have opened at home, and the third time they have opened against the rival Red Sox.  The ...
Published: 01/17/18