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)

Rays allow five in ninth, lose to Mariners

ST. PETERSBURG — Grant Balfour didn't really have any answers after his latest ninth-inning collapse, turning a scoreless game — with two outs, nobody on and two strikes on a .167 hitter — into a 5-0 mess of a loss Sunday.

But Rays manager Joe Maddon had a curious one when asked if they were going to stick with the struggling Balfour, and his 6.46 ERA, as their closer:

"He's our closer as of today," Maddon replied.

Was that to suggest a change, to Jake McGee or Juan Carlos Oviedo or someone else, was coming? Maddon — who always talks to players first about job shifts — said only, "Even if I was going to change anything, I wouldn't tell you guys anyhow."

Balfour's blowup topped the list of bad on a day when the Rays struck out a team-record-tying 17 times, losing for the 12th time in 13 games and dropping their majors-worst record to 24-40, a season-high 16 games under the .500 mark Maddon wants them to reach by next month.

And it ruined what had been an impressive pitchers duel led by the Rays' Chris Archer and Seattle's Felix Hernandez, who struck out a career-high 15 in seven innings.

"Better today than when he threw the perfect game in Seattle (in 2012)," Maddon said.

What made it all the more maddening was Balfour had looked sharp in striking out the first two Mariners, and was ahead of Brad Miller 0-and-2 when he made the first of several two-strike mistakes, leaving a breaking ball over too much of the plate that was rocketed past first baseman James Loney.

"I didn't make a good pitch," said Balfour, who was working with rookie catcher Ali Solis. Maddon agreed, saying from a game-planning standpoint it was the wrong pitch and wrong location.

But they had different takes on what happened next. Maddon said walking right-handed No. 9 hitter Willie Bloomquist (whom he didn't want Archer to face earlier) was "the big play" of the entire sequence. "That's the one that kind of gives them a little thing,'' he said.

But Balfour sounded like he didn't think so, saying he "pitched around Bloomquist a little bit right there.''

Either way, it wasn't good. And it got worse when lefty Endy Chavez lunged to swing at an 0-and-2 pitch and slapped it just by shortstop Yunel Escobar to score the first run. "I thought I made a good pitch, he just kind of stuck the bat out and got a ground ball single," Balfour said. "You just kind of shake your head because he just could have as easily hit it to shortstop."

The deficit grew quickly as rookie James Jones — on another 0-and-2 pitch — drove a ball over the head of rightfielder Kevin Kiermaier, who was playing in as instructed, scored two runs. A walk to Robinson Cano and then a double by Kyle Seager — on a 1-and-2 pitch — made it 5-0.

Balfour said he felt great, had good stuff and was throwing with confidence, making the rapid turn of events even more frustrating as he wondered if "I upset the baseball gods or I did something" and this was just an "unlucky" year. He gave up five runs in an inning for the second time after never doing so previously in his 11 seasons.

"That's the disappointing part," Balfour said. "I'm a couple inches away from snapping off a curveball and striking out the side today and you're not going to ask me a single question. You're the best player in baseball because you struck out the side. Instead, I'm standing here because I gave up five. So I'll wear it and I'll be back tomorrow."


Marc Topkin can be reached at Follow him on Twitter at @TBTimes_Rays.

Rays allow five in ninth, lose to Mariners 06/08/14 [Last modified: Sunday, June 8, 2014 10:20pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. For starters: Rays at Twins, with Cobb pitching with a purpose


    UPDATE, 12:34: Cash said he has been pleased with Sucre's work and is trying to find playing time for him. ... Cash also said after reading Farquhar's comments about having trouble re-focusing after getting out of a jam and then going back out for a second inning he will factor that in to how he uses him. ... …

  2. St. Petersburg's Sebastien Bourdais vows to return for IndyCar finale

    Auto racing

    INDIANAPOLIS — Sebastien Bourdais was in one of the best race cars he'd ever had, so fast that most of his competitors thought he would win the pole for the Indianapolis 500.

    Sebastien Bourdais does physical therapy at the Rehabilitation Hospital of Indiana in Indianapolis. Bourdais broke his pelvis, hip and two ribs in an accident during qualifying for the Indianapolis 500 on May 20. He plans to return home to St. Petersburg soon to continue therapy. [Associated Press]
  3. Yellow cards stall Rowdies offense in tie with St. Louis


    ST. PETERSBURG — It's not the result they wanted, but it certainly could have been worse. Neill Collins' 87th-minute header off a corner kick was the reward the Rowdies settled for Saturday night during a 1-1 draw with St. Louis before an announced 6,068 at Al Lang Stadium.

  4. Calvary Christian routs Pensacola Catholic to win state baseball title


    FORT MYERS — Calvary Christian left no doubt as to which baseball team in Class 4A was the best in Florida this season. The Warriors defeated Pensacola Catholic 11-1 in six innings Saturday night at Hammond Stadium to claim the school's first state championship in any team sport. It also solidified a 30-0 season. …

    Matheu Nelson celebrates after scoring on a wild pitch during the first inning, when Calvary Christian took a 6-0 lead.
  5. Numerous lapses add up to frustrating Rays loss to Twins

    The Heater

    MINNEAPOLIS — While the Rays made some good defensive plays, threw a couple of big pitches when they needed to and got a few, and just a few, key hits, there were some obvious things they did wrong that led to them losing Saturday's game to the Twins 5-3:

    Rays reliever Tommy Hunter says the Twins’ tiebreaking homer came on a pitch that was “close to where I wanted it.”