Sunday, December 17, 2017
Tampa Bay Rays

Rays lose to Twins in 12 innings

ST. PETERSBURG — The loss, of course, is the bottom line, especially how it came for the Rays late Wednesday night, a 6-4 defeat to the Twins in 12 long innings with a matinee looming today.

"When you play a game like that and you lose it at the end, obviously, but you pitched and played so well to win that game," manager Joe Maddon said.

"We should have won that game. We've lost two games during this homestand that we could've put in the win column, and those are the kind of things you really have to get beyond. It's not for a lack of effort — the guys have been great, the effort's great, the intensity's wonderful. We just have to figure out how to push through somehow."

Twins DH Chris Colabello, who homered earlier, did them in shortly before midnight, singling through the drawn-in infield to score two after Josh Lueke — the seventh Rays pitcher of the night — allowed an infield chopper/single to Joe Mauer and a well-struck double by Trevor Plouffe to start the inning.

The game was in Lueke's hands because the Rays didn't have much choice, another short start by Jake Odorizzi (31/3 innings) forcing them to the bullpen early and often. Juan Carlos Oviedo, fresh off the disabled list, wasn't used after warming up twice, though Maddon said he was available for a potential 13th, with a position player to follow.

But as if dropping back under .500 at 10-11 weren't enough, the Rays have reasons to be concerned, too.

To start with, they got another disappointing start from Odorizzi — who, after a blazing beginning that included a stretch of five straight strikeouts, gave away a 2-0 lead and failed to finish the fourth, though throwing 88 pitches.

Maddon had been saying Odorizzi was pitching better than his results had shown and was a victim of bad fortune. But Wednesday was different, Maddon questioning his pitch selection and saying he was not as sharp.

"I thought maybe not enough fastball, primarily. I think he was trying to trick 'em a little bit too soon," Maddon said. "The biggest problem was maybe a little bit too much off-speed early."

His past three starts are troubling: 0-2, a 9.45 ERA, with 20 hits and seven walks allowed while pitching only 131/3 innings.

Compounding the problem for a rotation that has lost Matt Moore for the season and Alex Cobb for at least another month to injury, it was the American League-most 10th time in 21 games a Rays starter hasn't gone more than five innings, seventh in the past nine games.

Adding to their woes, the Rays didn't exactly break out offensively, scoring their four runs in four innings on two sac flies, a groundout and an infield single, mixing in a stolen base and a sac bunt while taking advantage of a throwing error, a wild pitch and a hit batter.

When they did have chances late, they failed, such as Wil Myers coming up with the bases loaded in the ninth and grounding out, making these type of games even worse.

"They're very frustrating when you can't come through," Myers said. "As a team it (stinks) any time you lose, but to lose a close game in extra innings is even tougher."

They did, at least, overcome being done in by a former teammate, as seems to happen so often. Well-liked outfielder Sam Fuld, making his first appearance since joining the Twins, received a hearty somewhat-standing ovation from the Tropicana Field crowd of 11,993 before flying out in his first at-bat. Fuld then singled in a run in the Twins' four-run fourth and doubled to lead off the ninth, but he struck out with the go-ahead run on second in the 11th.

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

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