Wednesday, January 24, 2018
Tampa Bay Rays

Rays bounce back, beat Jays

ST. PETERSBURG — The only thing that got blown Wednesday night was another call.

Having come from ahead to lose the two previous nights — as well as in their past 10 losses and a major-league-most 13 overall — the Rays took a lead Wednesday and actually hung on for a much-needed victory, 10-4 over the Blue Jays.

"Getting a win was very important," leftfielder Kelly Johnson said. "A tough last two days."

The Rays (15-18) reached a number of milestones in the win:

Matt Moore, despite lasting only five innings with the bullpen shorthanded, improved to 6-0, matching the major-league lead.

James Loney got two more hits and, more importantly, five plate appearances to qualify for the leaderboard and took over as the American League's top hitter at .385.

Manager Joe Maddon notched his 600th victory as a Ray and, more dramatically, was ejected in back-to-back games for the first time.

With the Rays on the wrong end of what Maddon felt was another blatant miscarriage of umpiring justice — up to a half-dozen by their count — he felt something, actually a few things, had to be said before 11,075 at the Trop.

"You can only take so much," Maddon said. "And I think we've been very cooperative and understanding. We've been good boys. We've been playing really well in the sandbox. … I think we've been the poster child for instant replay for the first month or so of the season. … At some point, when your team, when your group, who works very hard and you're trying to get to the World Series, constantly gets dinged, I'm the guy that has to say something. … So you get to that moment, that point, where you just can't permit it anymore."

Maddon said he's not concerned that the constant complaining could backfire.

"Only if it wasn't warranted, then we would get the reputation," he said. "I think if it's warranted, you have to. I would rather get a bad reputation arguing warranted moments as opposed to getting a horrible reputation among my players. That is much more important to me."

The Rays, who knocked out Jays starter Ricky Romero after seven batters and added two-run homers from Johnson and Evan Longoria, were up 6-2 in the sixth on the play in question, Maddon concerned about the inning being extended given his limited relief options.

First-base ump/crew chief Tim Welke ruled that what would have been an easy groundout was instead a foul ball because it hit, or batter Maicer Izturis made it look like it hit, his foot. Maddon felt, rather strongly, that home-plate ump Scott Barry knew better and wouldn't say so because he didn't want to overrule his boss.

Moore put the Rays in that position, pitching himself out of the game by throwing 104 pitches — and only 56 for strikes — and knew the victory wasn't really his doing.

"Personally, the record looks pretty, but if you go back and look at this game, it wasn't pretty," Moore said. "I was fighting a lot of different things tonight, mostly myself."

Though Rays starters have worked five innings in all 33 games, matching the second longest such streak to start a season going back to 1916, they sometimes act as if that is their limit.

"There has still been a heavy taxation on the bullpen," Maddon said. "It's been a very democratic situation in the bullpen."

And, the way the Rays see it, not a very fair situation regarding the umpiring.

Marc Topkin can be reached at [email protected]

     
                 
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