Make us your home page

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

(View our Privacy Policy)

Tampa Bay Rays find the way home blocked again in 2-1 loss to Toronto Blue Jays

TORONTO — The blood on Elliot Johnson's forehead, nose, right cheek and chin after his valiant attempt to score on the final play showed how close the Rays came to tying the score in Friday's game.

And the glum faces in the Rogers Centre clubhouse told the rest of the story. The Rays lost yet another one-run game, this time 2-1 to the Blue Jays.

"We just came up a little bit short," Johnson said.

Johnson did just about everything he could to score, breaking off second on a pinch-hit single by Carlos Peña and heading hard for home, leading with his right shoulder. But catcher Jeff Mathis corralled a strong throw from rookie rightfielder Moises Sierra, tucked his shoulder down and withstood Johnson's blow.

"I knew it was going to be close," Johnson said. "I wish I could have gotten a little better shot on him."

Having wasted a half-dozen earlier scoring opportunities and a solid, though abbreviated, start by Jeremy Hellickson, the Rays lost for the sixth time in their past seven games, dropping to 71-61 and 2½ games from the second American League wild-card spot. They remained 4½ games behind the AL East-leading Yankees, who lost to Baltimore.

More frustrating for the Rays, it was the 11th time they lost in their past 12 one-run games, something statistically hard to do.

"It's almost impossible," manager Joe Maddon said. "It speaks to great pitching … and I think we've played good defense primarily through this whole moment. It's just our inability to get the knock when we need it."

Friday, that meant going hitless in seven at-bats with runners in scoring position. The two times they did get a hit in that situation, the runners were thrown out at the plate. The first was Matt Joyce in the second for what would have been the first run.

Desmond Jennings gave the Rays a 1-0 lead with a homer in the third, and Hellickson gave it back. He allowed a homer to Sierra on the third of three consecutive changeups leading off the third, then one on a massive shot by Edwin Encarnacion on a misplaced fastball with one out in the fourth. Those were the 22nd and 23rd homers he has allowed this season, surpassing his total from 29 starts last season.

"I kept the team in the ballgame, but I've got to do a better job," he said. "I've got to keep the ball in the yard, for one."

Maddon pulled him one batter into the seventh — and after only 74 pitches — because he believed Jake McGee could do a better job at that point in the lineup, which he did, and the Rays eventually got one more chance in the ninth.

Jeff Keppinger singled for his third hit, then Johnson, who pinch ran, moved to second on Luke Scott's flyout to left. After Ryan Roberts took a called third strike, Peña, who was 0-for-17 and on the bench for a third straight game, laced a single to right. When Sierra had to jump as the ball bounced off the turf, the Rays felt good about their chances.

Moments later — and after just the second time in franchise history the tying run was out at the plate — Johnson had cuts on his face and enough of a headache that he was to have concussion testing and the Rays had lost again.

Said Maddon: "I'm not discouraged at all."

Jays 2

Rays 1

Tampa Bay Rays find the way home blocked again in 2-1 loss to Toronto Blue Jays 08/31/12 [Last modified: Friday, August 31, 2012 11:42pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Storm routs Cleveland


    TAMPA — Alvin Ray Jackson intercepted two passes, returning one for a touchdown, and recovered two fumbles as the Storm routed Cleveland 57-27 Saturday night in its home regular-season finale at Amalie Arena.

  2. Miscue sends Rays to another stinging loss to Rangers (w/video)

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — The Rays gave away DJ Kitty onesies Saturday night. Then they gave away the game.

    Rays centerfielder Mallex Smith misses a drive hit by Adrian Beltre with two outs in the sixth, allowing the tying runs to score. Beltre puts Texas ahead 4-3 when he scores after two wild pitches.
  3. Rowdies shut out Charleston


    ST. PETERSBURG — The Rowdies know a thing or two about stalemates, with five of their past 10 games ending in a draw.

    Rowdies in the first half during the game between Tampa Bay Rowdies and the Charleston Battery at Al Lang Field in St. Petersburg, Fla., on Saturday, Jul 22, 2017.
  4. Rays journal: Former closer Sergio Romo acquired from Dodgers

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — The Rays made a move to help the bullpen Saturday night when they acquired RHP Sergio Romo, who had been designated for assignment last week by the Dodgers.

    Tampa Bay Rays starting pitcher Jake Odorizzi (23) throwing in the first inning of the game between the Boston Red Sox and the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla. on Friday, July 7, 2017.
  5. Dale Earnhardt Jr. backs wife's "not worth risk'' opinion on Daytona

    Auto racing

    INDIANAPOLIS — Dale Earnhardt Jr. on Saturday defended his wife's Twitter post — and blamed himself for putting her in a position where she believed she had to speak out and upset some of his fans.

    Amy Earnhardt worries about Dale Jr.’s concussions.