Saturday, February 24, 2018
Tampa Bay Rays

Rays blow early lead, waste rally in loss to Red Sox

BOSTON — The run the Rays didn't get in the fourth inning Wednesday was costly, a baserunning blunder that resulted in INF Tim Beckham getting demoted to Triple-A Durham.

But there was plenty more they did wrong in the 8-6 loss to the Red Sox that sent them home — hoping to beat Tropical Storm Hermine — with a 2-4 record after trips to Houston and Boston and a 56-76 record overall.

An RBI double by Brad Miller (giving him 26 for August) and homers by Logan Forsythe (his 17th) and Logan Morrison (11th, first since July 5) staked them to a 4-1 lead, but starter Drew Smyly couldn't hold it, then the bullpen blew it.

Smyly failed them first, opening the fifth by allowing two singles, making the costly transgression of a two-out walk to Mookie Betts that loaded the bases, then giving up the big blast, a grand slam to Hanley Ramirez.

"Just one pitch, the whole game changes just like that," Smyly said. "I feel like I threw the ball better than the results."

Smyly acknowledged some second-guessing of the pitch selection, suggesting he should have been more careful in pitching to Ramirez, even if that meant walking in a run, rather than trying the first-pitch fastball that was supposed to be inside but ended up over the plate then over the wall.

Smyly came into the game 4-0, 2.82 over his past seven starts and with a 201/3-inning scoreless streak against the Red Sox, but he left after just five innings, having allowed five runs on seven hits. That included the two homers, making it 29 for the season, accounting for 53 percent of his allowed runs (49 of 92).

The Rays battled back to tie it at 6 in the top of the eighth when Forsythe delivered again with a two-run single.

Then Erasmo Ramirez took over and made a mess, walking Hanley Ramirez, an aggravating mistake, then giving up three straight hits, leading to two runs.

"A difficult loss," manager Kevin Cash said.

DUFFY DOWN: SS Matt Duffy was out of the lineup a day after being used as the DH as part of the Rays' attempt to manage residual soreness from the left Achilles strain he was rehabbing when he was acquired in the Aug. 1 trade with San Francisco.

The plans has been to limit him to four or five straight games; he played six before DH-ing Tuesday, so Cash said they decided to further rest him in advance of today's off day, though he did pinch-hit, and walk, in the eighth. "We figured we could tie in three days, kind of, off his feet," Cash said.

After starting 15-for-40 (.375) with the Rays, Duffy is just 2-for-his-last-23 (.086).

COBB UPDATE: RHP Alex Cobb said he is getting increasingly excited about his Friday start, his first in the majors since September 2014 due to an elbow injury that required Tommy John surgery. "It's starting to feel more and more comfortable, more real," he said. "I'm definitely getting more excited for it."

Cash said pitching coach Jim Hickey will check with Cobb between innings on how he is feeling, and there will be an 80- to 90-pitch limit.

TRAVEL PLANS: The Rays landed safely in Tampa just before 10:30 p.m. Travel director Chris Westmoreland had been working on several contingencies based on the impact of the storm hitting Tampa. The Blue Jays faced similar issues in heading down after their Wednesday night game in Baltimore.

FALL GUYS: RHP Brent Honeywell headlines the group of eight players headed to the Arizona Fall League to play for the Peoria team managed by Durham's Jared Sandberg. The others are pitchers Kyle Bird, Diego Castillo and Greg Harris, catchers Nick Ciuffo and Justin O'Conner, INF Kean Wong and OF Justin Williams.

MISCELLANY: Though rosters can be expanded today, Cash said they may not announce any callups until Friday. One or two relievers are expected, then others next week. … The Rays are 0-5-1 in their past six road series. … Miller's 26 RBIs are the most by a Ray in any month since Carlos Peña had 29 in August 2009. … With RHP Steve Geltz officially optioned to Durham, RHP Jaime Schultz, who had a good season and was a possible September callup, went on the DL with a groin issue.

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