ST. PETERSBURG — The Rays knew things were going to be different with closer Alex Colome on the disabled list.
And Thursday, they saw just how horribly bad it could be as one of the worst meltdowns in franchise history led to a 10-7 loss to the Tigers as they blew a five-run lead in the ninth inning, allowing eight to score.
The problems actually started, as you'll see, when the Rays scored two runs in the bottom of the eighth, extending a 5-2 lead to 7-2.
"You're feeling pretty good about the situation," Cash said. "But it didn't turn out so well."
Not so much. It matched the largest ninth-inning lead the Rays, or Devil Rays, had ever blown, since turning an 11-6 advantage into a 12-11 loss at Toronto in June 2007. And, per ESPN, going into Thursday, teams leading by five or more in the ninth had lost only three times in 2,782 such games over the past five seasons.
With the lead at five, Cash made what turned out to be the first bad move, deciding Matt Andriese, who had worked three sharp innings in relief of Jake Odorizzi, throwing 27 pitches, was no longer needed.
And, with Andriese, a converted starter, among those taking on higher-leverage duty in Colome's absence, Cash said that it wasn't that tough of a decision to spare him from additional work.
"Not really," Cash said. "Given his recent workload and also when you separate the game to five runs — a five-run lead, we're capable of having pitchers that need to go out there and get the job done for us."
In other words, rookie Ryan Garton should have been able to finish the game.
But Garton, the Mitchell High product in his 10th big-league outing, faced four batters and gave up four straight singles, making it 7-3 and leaving with the bases loaded.
"I went out there with same mind-set, pound the zone, try to get three outs, do my job, and it just didn't happen today," Garton said. "Today was probably the best I've ever felt. Baseball being baseball, balls find holes, guys make good swings. Happens."
Cash turned next to Erasmo Ramirez, who worked a sharp eighth on Wednesday but — without the benefit of extra rest, which he has seemed to need of late — had nothing on Thursday.
"He was the right guy, right spot,'' Cash said. "It just didn't work out.''
Ramirez faced six batters, and the only out he got was a fly ball that scored a run.
In order, Ramirez allowed an RBI single, the sac fly, then another single that made it 7-6.
He then walked Jose Iglesias to reload the bases and, worse, Ian Kinsler to force in the tying run. Then he allowed a double to Cameron Maybin that cleared the bases to make it 10-7.
"Just awful work from me," Ramirez said. "I didn't do what I was supposed to do. I didn't throw strikes when I was supposed to throw them."
Ramirez said he felt fine, he just couldn't pitch well.
"At that moment I felt good, it was just that the ball wasn't moving," he said. "Maybe I was too much excited about the bases loaded and tried to get out of trouble quick. When you don't execute those pitches you are in hitter's counts, and something bad is going to happen when you do that no matter how you feel."
By the time Danny Farquhar ended the long inning, the Tigers had sent 12 men to the plate, rapped seven hits — several through the Rays' shifted infield — and scored the eight runs.
"We always talk about how hitting gets contagious,'' Cash said. "That was one contagious inning for them."
By the end of the long night, the Rays were 33-45 and stunned. They had only allowed as many runs in a ninth inning once before (June 2006 vs. Toronto, nine), and hadn't allowed eight in any inning since June 2013 (vs. Kansas City).
"That's a frustrating loss,'' Cash said. "I don't know if there's been one more frustrating this year, but that was definitely a difficult one.''
Marc Topkin can be reached at [email protected]. Follow @ TBTimes_Rays.
Collapse by the numbers
The Rays bullpen gave up a five-run lead and then some in the ninth inning of a 10-7 loss to Detroit on Thursday: The inning's lowlights:
2 Walks issued by the Rays in the ninth inning
3 Pitchers the Rays used
5 Consecutive singles before the Rays recorded an out
7 Detroit hits
8 Runs Tampa Bay allowed
24 Strikes thrown by the Rays
41 total pitches