Thursday, January 18, 2018
Tampa Bay Rays

Rays fall to Rangers in 14 innings

ARLINGTON, Texas — There was a lot the Rays did right over the nearly five hours they played Tuesday, with a couple of big hits, a strong start by Jeremy Hellickson and some great defensive plays led by Desmond Jennings and Kevin Kiermaier.

But they also did a few things very wrong, Joel Peralta blowing a two-run lead in the seventh, wasting a prime opportunity in the 10th, third baseman Evan Longoria making an error to start the game-deciding rally in the 14th and, worst of all, Cesar Ramos walking in the winning run on four pitches to leave them with a stinging 3-2 14-inning defeat.

"A frustrating night,'' Longoria said.

The game ended shortly before 1 a.m. Tampa Bay time when Ramos — after the Rangers loaded the bases on an error, a ground ball single and a blooper - threw four straight balls to Adam Rosales.

"That's just unacceptable on my part at that point,'' Ramos said. "I'd rather give up a hit than give a guy a free base. Especially to do it on four pitches is pretty embarrassing."

The game had been tied 2-2 since the seventh as both teams had limited opportunities and made key plays to thwart the other, before the Rays (58-61) ended up with their third walkoff loss of the road trip.

After the Rangers held the 14th inning stretch, complete with Take Me Out to the Ballgame, the winning rally started when Longoria got caught in-between and then backed up but couldn't handle a hard one-out bouncer by Geovany Soto.

"I was in the position I wanted to be in, but where the ball was hit it was hit too far away for me to charge it; I would have had to wave at it if I would have charged and hopefully got it in my glove,'' Longoria said. "I made the right play it just was hit, it was top-spinning, and I just didn't, I guess, keep my eye on it long enough. It would have been a tough play regardless; I would have had to make a tough throw from the back of the infield.''

Rougned Odor followed with a ground-ball single through second that moved up pinch-runner Nick Martinez, and a blooper by Shin-Soo Choo over shortstop loaded the bases.

The Rays went into their five-man infield alignment, and Ramos got a huge second out, Elvis Andrus flying to shallow right.

But Ramos, who was the walk-off loser Sunday in Chicago as well, couldn't throw the ball over the plate to Rosales.

"Just throw a strike,'' manager Joe Maddon said. "Just give us a chance at that point.''

Ramos said he was trying but lost command of his fastball. "That's just baseball. I just put myself in a whole going 2-0, 3-0 and walking him in,'' he said. "Getting two outs and having an opportunity to get out of it, losing it like that is unacceptable."

There were reasons the Rays, who were trying to get back to within one game of .500, were in that position.

They took a 2-0 lead into the seventh but Joel Peralta quickly gave it right back. Kiermaier's perfect one-hop throw to the plate kept in tied in the seventh, Jennings' over-the-shoulder catch just before crashing into the centerfield wall got them out of the eighth, and another Kiermaier throw, to first, completed a double play that ended the 10th.

The Rays had the chance to go ahead in the 10th when Jose Molina lead of with a single and the Rangers botched the play on Kiermaier's bunt. But Jennings failed twice to get down a bunt, then decided on his own (and with Maddon's after-the-fact blessing) that the bunt was still the better play and made a third attempt and struck out. "Just trying to get the bunt down,'' Jennings said.

Then Ben Zobrist, who had been the Rays hottest hitter, grounded into a double play, confirmed by replay.

"That was a good spot right there,'' Maddon said. "Jake (McGee) was still able to pitch. We did not execute in that moment and it went away. The double play bit us again.''

And they didn't do much after that, including making three outs on four pitches in the 11th, Maddon noting in a lot of the at-bats they were simply "trying to hit homers.''

Held hitless into the fifth by Nick Tepesch, the Rays broke through for two in the sixth. Jennings led off with a triple and scored on Ben Zobrist's sac fly for the first run. Matt Joyce then laced a ball into the rightfield corner that Choo played into a triple, and scored when second baseman Odor's relay to third bounced out of play.

But after Hellickson did an impressive job of battling through six innings with men on in each, Peralta gave the lead back in a messy seventh.

It seemed obvious immediately he didn't have much, but Maddon led him face five batters, all of whom put the ball in play with force. Leonys Martin singled and Soto doubled, with Odor's sac fly scoring one and a double by Choo, swinging 3-0, the other.

Only a strong one-hop throw to the plate by Kiermaier kept the Rangers from taking the lead, as Choo tried to score on Andrus' single and Jose Molina did a good job corralling the throw and keeping him from doing so.

"I couldn't get the ball down,'' said Peralta, who had made eight straight scoreless appearances. "They got to it, and they hit be pretty good. I didn't have it tonight.''

Another great defensive play got the Rays out of the eighth after a leadoff walk and a bunt but Adrian Beltre on second. Brad Boxberger struck out J.P. Arencibia, and then Jennings made one of the best catches of the season, racing back and making an over-the-shoulder catch of Leonys Martin's drive a step before crashing into the wall, the force knocking him back a step and his hat off, but causing no harm.

Jennings said it definitely was among the best catches he has made but not necessarily the best.

"The thing about this one was the wall,'' Jennings said. "I didn't feel like I even had a step.''

After all they put into it, using six relievers (and likely to make a roster move today to add a fresh arm) the Rays dressed quietly and it was obvious they were feeling down about the missed opportunity, letting another game get away as the remaining schedule, and the chance to make up ground keeps shrinking.

Disheartening?

"It was,'' Maddon said.

     
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