Monday, February 19, 2018
Tampa Bay Rays

Rays lose odd game to Blue Jays to fall to 0-2

ST. PETERSBURG — There was plenty to talk about during Monday's game, what with two odd plays requiring replay review, Kevin Kiermaier just missing on a home-run robbing grab, Toronto's Kevin Pillar making a highlight catch of his own and the Rays leaving a squad of men on base.

And it was the five-plus minutes the umpires and replay review crew in New York spent discussing the fourth-inning sequence that led directly to the Rays' 5-3 demise.

After waiting obviously impatiently through the extended delay — on whether rightfielder Steven Souza Jr. made a catch, and if it was a fair or foul ball — Rays starter Drew Smyly gave up a two-run homer to Michael Saunders. Worse, it was the second of the night Smyly, a left-hander, allowed to a lefty: Josh Thole took him deep, with the benefit of replay as well as a fan reached over, the inning before.

While Smyly first said the break in rhythm wasn't to blame, he then said it kind of was.

"Um, I don't know," Smyly said. "I'm not going to make excuses. Saunders hit a 410-foot home run off me, so I can't let that happen. I can't give up two home runs to two different lefties in that lineup. They have enough hard-hitting righties to where I can't let those lefties beat me. And that's how I got beat today.

"But it is a little ridiculous that they spend 5-10 minutes on the replay. I don't agree with that."

Rays manager Kevin Cash also said the delay, of probably close to 10 minutes of idle time, was a factor.

"Whatever it was, it certainly didn't help," Cash said. "I know there was a lot of commotion, confusion there. But any pitcher, you don't want to take him out of any rhythm at all."

That the Rays had the convoluted decision go in their favor — the verdict was a catch, and fair or foul a moot question — didn't make it much better.

And no less confusing, as the umpiring crew thought both teams had challenged the call, Cash on the catch, Toronto's John Gibbons on fair or foul, since Souza had thrown to first in case it was in play. After the game, the umpires said that once it was — finally — determined Souza made the catch, that was the end of the issue.

The third-inning replay review took much less time but cost the Rays as well.

Thole hit a ball to right that a fan appeared to reach over the wall to catch, and the umps called interference and a double. But then the replay crew determined the ball would have cleared the fence and awarded a home run. (The Rays said the fan was "relocated" to another seat but not ejected.)

Cash diplomatically said he hadn't seen the replay yet, and it probably could have gone either way. Smyly said it was clear to him. "From all our angles, we don't know how that you can overturn Thole's home run as well," he said. "But it is what it is. And we lost 5-3."

Smyly also allowed a fifth-inning homer to right-handed Josh Donaldson, but it was the two to the lefties that gnawed at him. He had allowed only nine career homers in 447 at-bats against lefties, and none since Sept. 6, 2014.

"I take pride in getting those guys out," he said. "I'm usually pretty effective against them. Tonight I missed my spots and they connected."

That wasn't the only reason the Rays lost again and go into tonight with the chance to start a season 0-3 for just the second time in their 19 seasons. Failing to take advantage of the opportunities they had against Jays knuckleballer R.A. Dickey hurt, too, as they left nine men on base overall and went 1-for-12 with runners in scoring position. So did Kiermaier just missing catching Saunders' home run, while Pillar made the dazzling diving grab to rob Steve Pearce of a double in the seventh.

Marc Topkin can be reached at [email protected]. Follow @TBTimes_Rays.

     
         
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