Make us your home page
Instagram

Get the quickest, smartest news, analysis and photos from the Bucs game emailed to you shortly after the final whistle.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Rays fall short against White Sox

CHICAGO — One of the concerning characteristics of this Rays team through the first 3½ weeks of play is the frequency in which it has let games get away.

It happened again Friday in a 5-4 loss to the White Sox, as a 3-0 lead disappeared quickly. Roberto Hernandez, the Rays pitcher who rarely gives up home runs, watched three fly out of the park, and the offense sputtered again.

"We had it," manager Joe Maddon said, "and gave it up."

Scoring first is one of the Rays' primary themes, a nod to the style of game they play and the dominance of bullpens around the league. Friday was the 16th time in 23 games they took the initial lead, but they are only 8-7 in those games. They are 10-13 overall, 2-9 on the road, just 2-6 in one-run games.

"You have to capitalize on those close games," outfielder Matt Joyce said. "I think good teams do. Good teams that make the playoffs have a lot of moments where they win a lot of close games. For us, we have to figure out how to win those games."

They looked to be headed that way Friday. Joyce, struggling so much he was moved into the leadoff spot on another of those Maddon things, homered in the third, and the Rays added two more in the fourth on an opposite-field homer by Evan Longoria (his sixth in 12 games) and an RBI single by Kelly Johnson after the first of James Loney's two doubles.

But Hernandez, who allowed one run on three hits through four relatively sharp innings, gave it back, and more.

He allowed two homers, accounting for three runs, in the fifth and then another homer in the sixth. And it wasn't the big boys in the Sox lineup hurting him, but backup catcher Hector Gimenez (the first homer of his big-league career), reserve infielder Tyler Greene (his 17th), and third baseman Conor Gillaspie (his third).

Hernandez is typically a ground-ball pitcher — in his first 189 big-league games, pitching as Hernandez or Fausto Carmona, he never allowed more than two homers — and said he didn't change anything.

But, he allowed, at a certain point he noticed "my ball was flat, no movement, nothing."

From the dugout, Maddon saw the same thing. "He was okay," he said. "I just think that he was probably missing a little bit where he wanted the ball to be. Stuffwise, looked a little flat from the side, which I think the hitters kind of demonstrated."

The Rays made a late bid in the ninth, cutting the margin to 5-4 when catcher Jose Molina doubled and, after Sam Fuld foul-popped out, Joyce singled him in. But they got nothing more.

The night was at least something of a breakthrough for Joyce, who came in hitting only .185 and without a hit with a runner in scoring position. Maddon, as he has done with other power hitters, wanted Joyce to change his approach in the leadoff spot and focus just on reaching base, eliminating the urge to try to do too much. It was the third time Maddon has put Joyce in the leadoff spot (twice in 2011) and he has homered in all three games.

"At that rate," Joyce said, "I might want to lead off every game if that was the case."

Marc Topkin can be reached at topkin@tampabay.com.

Rays fall short against White Sox 04/26/13 [Last modified: Saturday, April 27, 2013 12:42am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Ronde Barber: Want intimidation? Look at past Bucs teams

    Bucs

    Ronde Barber says these days "it's hard to find throwbacks, where you go, 'That guy is a badass.' Where do you find that now? It's such a show-off sport." (Times 2012)
  2. Rays blow lead in ninth, lose in 10 to Rangers (w/video)

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — Rays manager Kevin Cash liked the way Alex Cobb was competing Friday night. He liked the way the hard contact made by the Rangers batters went away after the second or third inning. So as the game headed toward the ninth, there was no doubt in Cash's mind that sending Cobb back to the mound was …

    Rays starter Alex Cobb can hardly believe what just happened as he leaves the game in the ninth after allowing a leadoff double then a tying two-run homer to the Rangers’ Shin-Soo Choo.
  3. Rays journal: Steven Souza Jr. gets extra day off to let hip heal

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — RF Steven Souza Jr. ran in rightfield before batting practice under the watchful gaze of the Rays training staff and manager Kevin Cash. Afterward, Souza told Cash he could use one more day of rest before playing on the left hip he strained Wednesday in Oakland.

    Steven Souza Jr., hugging Mallex Smith after Smith’s solo home run in the eighth inning, feels relief after tests are negative on his injured hip.
  4. Rays vs. Rangers, 7:10 p.m. Saturday, Tropicana Field

    The Heater

    Tonight: vs. Rangers

    7:10, Tropicana Field

    TV/radio: FS1; 620-AM, 680-AM (Spanish)