Saturday, February 24, 2018
Tampa Bay Rays

Tampa Bay Rays lose 3-2 to Cleveland Indians

ST. PETERSBURG — Branch Rickey once said that baseball is a "game of inches."

Manager Joe Maddon, a Rickey fan, went a step further Monday night after a 3-2 loss to the Indians in front of 14,337 at Tropicana Field.

"It's a game of centimeters," Maddon said, smiling. "It's really that close."

DH Luke Scott thought he was going to score the tying run in the eighth inning, racing around from second base when Jeff Keppinger sliced a blooper just foul of the rightfield line.

"One centimeter off," Scott said.

Keppinger ended up flying out and pinch-hitter Brooks Conrad struck out looking on a 3-and-2 pitch, stranding Scott on third in the Rays' final threat. It marked the 12th loss in 17 games for the Rays (46-44), now three games back of the wild-card leading Angels. Tampa Bay has four runs or fewer in 15 of its past 18 games.

"There's a lot of baseball left this season," said Scott, who has seven hits since June 1, all against the Indians. "We have a great team. We have guys that … we have underachieved . But that doesn't mean we can't put it together and come away with a strong run here and do some damage."

Thanks to some sparkling defense and stellar bullpen work, the Rays were able to limit the damage after a disappointing start from rookie Alex Cobb. Cobb, who lasted just 31/3 innings, struggled with his command, throwing half of his 86 pitches for strikes, walking five and allowing five hits (four doubles). But Cobb allowed just three runs as lefty reliever J.P. Howell stranded the bases loaded in the fourth by getting the final two outs.

Cobb said the mechanical problem was that he wasn't finishing his pitches and couldn't make the adjustment.

"My fastball and curveball were all over the place," Cobb said. "If you can't locate your fastball, and get ahead, you have no chance to last late into the game."

Ex-Rays Johnny Damon and Casey Kotchman, a Seminole High product, made successful returns to the Trop, with Damon picking up two hits. But the Rays bullpen threw 52/3 scoreless innings, and the defense turned a club record-matching five double plays, the first time it had done that since Sept. 16, 2006.

"Outstanding," Maddon said.

The Rays had one costly error, with catcher Jose Molina's passed ball with two outs in the first allowing Shin-Soo Choo to score from third.

"That was big," Maddon said. "It looked like a curveball, pretty much right there, and he just missed it. (Molina), that's something he doesn't normally do, and I know he's upset about it. That was significant."

And despite the Indians boasting one of the best late-inning relief tandems in baseball, the Rays had their chances, stranding a runner in scoring position in the seventh and eighth innings.

"You look at those things — guys hit balls hard, they make plays on defense, they make good pitches," Scott said. "And with one little millimeter or centimeter, the game is changed."

And lost.

Joe Smith can be reached at [email protected]

 
Comments
Impact of Tommy John surgery cuts deeply for Brent Honeywell, Rays

Impact of Tommy John surgery cuts deeply for Brent Honeywell, Rays

PORT CHARLOTTE – Two things that tell you a lot about Rays cocksure top prospect Brent Honeywell given Friday's crushing news that he indeed tore a ligament in his prized right arm and is headed for Tommy John surgery that will sideline him wel...
Updated: 8 hours ago
Rasmus says he ditched Rays to spend time with family

Rasmus says he ditched Rays to spend time with family

SARASOTA — Colby Rasmus is making a new start with the Baltimore Orioles after taking an eight-month break from baseball.Rasmus signed a minor-league contract with the Orioles this week, after abruptly leaving the Rays in midseason. The contrac...
Updated: 9 hours ago
Rays open exhibition season with 6-3 win over Pirates

Rays open exhibition season with 6-3 win over Pirates

The Rays won the home game of their opening-day, split-squad set, beating the Pirates, 6-3.1B Brad Miller, with an opposite-field double off the wall, and CF Kevin Kiermaier, with a bloop single to shallow center, provided the early offense.2B Daniel...
Published: 02/23/18
Rays journal: Miller time could be a good time, and more from openers

Rays journal: Miller time could be a good time, and more from openers

PORT CHARLOTTE — One of the key story lines in Rays camp is seeing what kind of bounce-back season they can get out of a healthy Brad Miller, coming off October core muscle repair surgery.And while Miller isn't feeling 100 percent — he st...
Published: 02/23/18
Split-squad Rays hold on for 6-3 win at Orioles

Split-squad Rays hold on for 6-3 win at Orioles

SARASOTA — A split-squad team of Rays held on for a 6-3 victory Friday against the Orioles at Ed Smith Stadium.Yonny Chirinos, making his debut as a Ray, tossed a pair of scoreless innings. He allowed an infield single to former Ray Tim Beckham...
Published: 02/23/18
Live blog: Rays open spring training season against Pirates, Orioles

Live blog: Rays open spring training season against Pirates, Orioles

The Rays open the exhibition season with not one, but two games today.Non-roster pitcher Vidal Nuno will start against the Pirates at 1:05 p.m. in Port Charlotte. Denard Span, Matt Duffy, Kevin Kiermaier, Wilson Ramos, Mallex Smith and Adeiny Hechava...
Published: 02/23/18
Rays’ Honeywell has torn UCL, headed for Tommy John surgery

Rays’ Honeywell has torn UCL, headed for Tommy John surgery

The Rays got the worst-case news they were dreading, that top prospect RHP Brent Honeywell has a torn UCL and is headed for Tommy John  surgery.Honeywell said he plans to have the surgery as soon as possible to expedite his return sometime in th...
Published: 02/23/18
For starters: Split squad opener for Rays – vs. Pirates and at Orioles, 1:05

For starters: Split squad opener for Rays – vs. Pirates and at Orioles, 1:05

With 15 teams training in Florida,  there usually has to be either be at least one team off or one team playing two games. And with today the official opening day of spring training, the Rays had the bad draw of having to play split squad games....
Published: 02/23/18
Rays spring training info: Friday – vs. Pirates and at Orioles

Rays spring training info: Friday – vs. Pirates and at Orioles

Friday's games:Vs. Pirates1:05, Charlotte Sports Park, 2300 El Jobean Road, Port Charlotte. Pitchers: Rays – LH Vidal Nuno; Pirates – RH Taylor Eppler.Radio: raysbaseball.com, MLB At Bat app (free with mlb.com account)Tickets: raysbasebal...
Published: 02/23/18
Sports Day Tampa Bay podcast: Rays holding their breath

Sports Day Tampa Bay podcast: Rays holding their breath

Rays top pitching prospect Brent Honeywell left practice Thursday after throwing a handful of pitches, and the fear (now confirmed) is he might need Tommy John surgery, ending his season before it begins.In his lastest podcast, Rick Stroud has the la...
Published: 02/23/18