Rays hang on, but Colome becoming cause for concern

The struggling closer lets the White Sox get within one in the ninth.
Alex Colome is greeted by catcher Wilson Ramos after closing out the Rays' win, though not without making it interesting. [Associated Press]
Alex Colome is greeted by catcher Wilson Ramos after closing out the Rays' win, though not without making it interesting. [Associated Press]
Published April 10, 2018|Updated April 11, 2018

CHICAGO — Given how things are going with the Rays, we'll give them the courtesy of starting with the good.

They hung on — barely — to beat the White Sox 6-5 Tuesday, further distancing themselves from that eight-game losing streak with back-to-back wins.

"We're not going to get picky," manager Kevin Cash. "If we get in the win column, given what's taken place the last week, we'll take it."

Sure. Why not? Having improved to 3-8, you should take whatever you can get.

But this wasn't really a day to celebrate given the signs of concern.

And none flashing more red than closer Alex Colome, who again faltered — though didn't fail — in allowing a three-run homer in the ninth then putting the tying run on.

A close second was starter Blake Snell. Figure this one out — Snell had good enough stuff to take a no-hitter into the fifth but still ran his pitch count up so high — a career-high 114 — that it was a challenge just to get through six innings in posting the Rays' first quality start of the season.

"If we're being honest," Cash said, "there was some good and some not so good."

Also in the mix: Their supposedly contact-based hitters left 14 men on (after getting 10 walks); their sure-handed second baseman, Joey Wendle, made a bad error in the ninth; and their newly arrived — and perhaps soon to be departed — reliever Ryan Weber cracked the door for the Sox comeback.

Colome has to be atop the list.

He blew games in Boston on Thursday and Sunday. He nearly did it again Monday, putting two on and throwing a wild pitch before tight-roping his way to a save.

And there he was again Tuesday, making things way too, using a politer term now than at the time, interesting.

Replacing Weber with one out, two on and a 6-2 lead, Colome got a quick second out then gave up the three-run homer to Jose Abreu.

As if that did not cause enough upset stomachs, he then walked Matt Davidson before getting the final out — on an Omar Narvaez liner to right that Mallex Smith was able to hang on to.

Colome, a 2016 All-Star who led the majors last year with 47 saves, insists there is nothing to see here.

He said he feels good, was prepared to pitch and didn't really make a mistake, that the cutter down that Abreu hit was "a great pitch" — actually "a perfect pitch" — that required an adjustment and a tremendous swing by the veteran hitter.

"Obviously it's not a start like it was last year, where I just go out there and it's 1-2-3 innings," he said through team interpreter Manny Navarro. "Obviously I've been having guys getting on base. I honestly think I've been throwing good pitches and they've been taking advantage of them. …

"Mentally, I feel tough. I still feel strong and I'm happy that my health is still good. And if I go out there tomorrow, I'll be ready to go."

But something is amiss.

Colome has faced 25 batters this season, and 14 have reached base. He has allowed a .476 average (10-for-21) overall, .615 (8-for-13) to right-handed hitters.

"I think it's fair to say Alex is not right as maybe we've seen him in the past, but he got the job done," Cash said.


"Falling behind, location, command is a little inconsistent," Cash said. "I don't think it's a mechanical thing. … He's just off, for whatever reason."

Colome took the blame for falling behind too often, saying he has been guilty of trying to be too fine with some of his pitches. But he is adamant that the rough start is no sign of trouble, answering in English:

"I'm fine. I'm fine. I don't worry about that. You have a long time in baseball, you know that happens some time. I know I can do my job."

Marc Topkin can be reached at Follow @TBTimes_Rays.