Thursday, June 21, 2018
Tampa Bay Rays

Tampa Bay Rays lose 2-0 to Atlanta Braves

ST. PETERSBURG — The Rays have lit a holistic candle, said their prayers, and jokingly referred to curses and demons when it comes to their recent stretch of weird injuries and occurrences.

But after the frustratingly maddening way Tampa Bay's final rally ended in its 2-0 loss to the Braves on Sunday, getting shut out for the first time this year, designated hitter Luke Scott had another suggestion.

"Let's find the witch doctor and behead him and throw his body into the bay," Scott quipped.

Scott thought he was going to tie the score in the bottom of the eighth, when the Rays (25-17) had the bases loaded with two outs. But Scott's hard-hit grounder, which appeared headed to rightfield, struck Carlos Peña's right ankle as he was racing toward second base, resulting in interference and the final out. Braves second baseman Dan Uggla didn't know if he would have gotten to the ball.

"I got lucky," Braves reliever Jonny Venters said.

Scott, who was credited with a single, never made it to first base, looking to the sky before tossing his bat in the air.

"If I didn't have that much pine tar on my bat, I probably would have hit the top of the roof," Scott said. "I just couldn't believe it."

Neither could Peña, who broke for second on Scott's two-strike swing and had no time to react as the ball hit him in stride.

"It's just a helpless feeling because I couldn't go anywhere; I was in the air when the ball hit me," Peña said. "It was a rocket. It's just bad luck."

The Rays have had their share, with nine players currently on the disabled list, infielder Jeff Keppinger arriving Sunday morning in a walking boot due to a right foot injury, and Jose Molina leaving in the seventh after taking a foul tip off his catcher's mask. Peña said his ankle was "throbbing" for a minute after getting hit, though he said he was fine later.

Tampa Bay, buoyed by an impressive start by left-hander David Price, was still in the game. Price mixed his pitches well, allowing just two runs in seven innings, keeping the Rays in it as Braves veteran righty Tim Hudson threw a gem, 7? scoreless. Third baseman Sean Rodriguez helped Price with a spectacular defensive play in the fifth, making a diving stab down the line and one-hop throw to Peña to retire David Ross.

"Sean has made some unreal plays," Peña said. "And (Sunday) was no exception."

The Rays had their best chance to crack Hudson in the sixth, thanks to a two-out rally that loaded the bases for Peña. Peña then thought he had a grand slam, but his long drive to center was caught on the warning track due to backspin.

"I crushed it," Peña said. "It just had the spin where it came right down to him. But I knew as soon as I made contact, it had a shot to first be out of the park, or least over his head. So I was very disappointed."

The Rays have lost three of their past four, remaining two games behind first-place Baltimore in the American League East. Peña said the team will be better when it overcomes its recent adversity, no matter what challenges or injuries come next.

Joked Scott: "I may have to play a little middle infield pretty soon."

Joe Smith can be reached at [email protected]

 
Comments
Missed time a good mental reset for Rays’ Matt Duffy

Missed time a good mental reset for Rays’ Matt Duffy

ST. PETERSBURG — Missing all of 2017 might have been the absolute worst thing for Matt Duffy.Frustratingly idled as he eventually recovered and rehabbed from ongoing left heel issues, he couldn't play the game he loved, couldn't show the Rays o...
Updated: 8 hours ago
Rays journal: 7 pitches, 3 straight homers prove too much in loss to Astros

Rays journal: 7 pitches, 3 straight homers prove too much in loss to Astros

HOUSTON — The Rays were engaged in a third straight tight, go-either-way battle with the defending champ Astros on Wednesday.Until they were not.A brutal seven-pitch sequence by starter Nathan Eovaldi changed everything, as he gave up three con...
Published: 06/21/18
Rays see the results of keeping a good, young core group together

Rays see the results of keeping a good, young core group together

HOUSTON — The Rays saw a lot on the weeklong trip that ended with Wednesday's game against that Astros, beyond the street hustlers prowling in Times Square and the urban cowboys and girls parading through H-town.There was an impressive debuting...
Published: 06/20/18
Updated: 06/21/18
Marc Topkin’s takeaways from Wednesday’s Rays-Astros game

Marc Topkin’s takeaways from Wednesday’s Rays-Astros game

RHP Nathan Eovaldi said before his rough start Wednesday against the Astros that he was pitching better than his numbers showed. Well … In four starts since his six no-hit innings debut, he's 0-3 with a 6.17 ERA, allowing eight homers, four Wed...
Published: 06/20/18
For starters: Rays at Astros, with a different look

For starters: Rays at Astros, with a different look

UPDATE, 6:43: Cash said the key to how the pieced the lineup together was the opportunity to give Cron (who is struggling) and Duffy (who is doing well) back to back days off. … Looking ahead to the weekend, the Rays will use RHP Ryne Stanek as...
Published: 06/20/18
Sports Day Tampa Bay podcast: Kevin Kiermaier returns to the Rays

Sports Day Tampa Bay podcast: Kevin Kiermaier returns to the Rays

Times sports columnist Tom Jones joins Rick Stroud to discuss Kevin Kiermaier's return to the Rays, whether Victor Hedman should win the Norris Trophy for the NHL's best defenseman, Bucs expectations for this season and Barry Trotz's next c...
Published: 06/20/18
How the Rays really won Tuesday’s game over Astros

How the Rays really won Tuesday’s game over Astros

There was some interesting inside baseball elements that factored into the late innings of Tuesday's 2-1 Rays win.* First, on Matt Duffy's double off reliever Hector Rondon to lead off the eighth.Duffy said he doesn't like "to guess" what a pitcher i...
Published: 06/20/18
Rays’ Kevin Kiermaier returns, with energy to spare

Rays’ Kevin Kiermaier returns, with energy to spare

HOUSTON — Energy.That's what Kevin Kiermaier said he felt he'd provide most in rejoining the Rays Tuesday against the Astros after missing two-plus months recovering from thumb surgery."I like to think I bring energy on both sides of the ball, ...
Published: 06/19/18
Updated: 06/20/18
Rays journal: Blake Snell outlasts Justin Verlander in 2-1 win

Rays journal: Blake Snell outlasts Justin Verlander in 2-1 win

HOUSTON — The starting pitcher walked seven over seven otherwise solid innings Tuesday. That seemed weird enough for the Rays. Then the next pitcher they brought in was the one who started Monday's game. Even more bizarre.And then there was thi...
Published: 06/19/18
Updated: 06/20/18
Marc Topkin’s takeaways from Rays-Astros

Marc Topkin’s takeaways from Rays-Astros

This is how odd LHP Blake Snell's night was — he became the first pitcher to work seven or more innings and walk at least seven since Edwin Jackson threw his 149-pitch, eight-walk no-hitter at the Rays on June 25, 2010.If you weren't aware of t...
Published: 06/19/18