ST. PETERSBURG – Manager Kevin Cash created a narrative in talking after Monday’s win about all his Rays did right, playing like they were built to in combining good defense, sharp pitching and clutch hitting.
Tuesday, was a different story.
What the Rays did wrong, and what they failed to do right, doubled up on them in a 4-3 loss to the A’s.
Emilio Pagan, who hadn’t allowed a homer in a sharp start to the season, faltered badly, allowing a pair two pitches apart in the sixth that flipped the score, and against his former A’s mates at that.
Shortstop Willy Adames bounced a throw on a routine one-out grounder in advance of the back-to-back homers, changing the dynamic of the situation. And that after the first A’s run was set up by a Mike Zunino passed ball.
More like no hitting, as the Rays were held to just on the night by a quarter of A’s pitchers. They converted in only one of five at-bats with runners in scoring position, and that was the last one.
The loss dropped the Rays to 41-25, and back into a tie atop the AL East with the Yankees, who split a Subway Series doubleheader.
Adames took the blame, even though first baseman Ji-Man Choi was confident he had hung on to the ball in his bare hand despite a replay review that took only 46 seconds to confirm the call, and that a better throw wouldn’t have gotten the Rays out of the inning
“I think that was the play that cost the game,’’ Adames said. “It would've been two outs there, maybe the homers wouldn't have happened. What can I tell you? I'm a human being. And I don't want to make a mistake.’’
Adames said he didn’t have a good grip on the ball, and that the positioning may have been a factor. “When we play the shift you’re not in your regular position and sometimes you’ve got to take an extra step,’’ he said. “And that’s why you don’t have a good grip and you don’t make a good throw.’’
Cash said obviously it was a play they had to get an out on. "He’s been really, really good for us,'' Cash said. "That one stung a little bit. Two home runs after that probably magnified it. That’s the way it goes some times. Unfortunate.''
Adames otherwise had an eventful night, swiping home on the back end of a double-steal, and singling in a run in the ninth, but it was of little solace.
Pagan wasn’t too down over how the game changed on his watch, feeling he got beat making a good pitch, a 96 mph fastball, in a bad, 2-0, count to Matt Olson for the two-run homer and then a bad pitch, a cutter that didn’t cut, to Davis.
Pagan, who spent most of last season with the A’s, acknowledged he was looking forward to facing his ex-mates and insisted it didn’t sting any worse to get beat my them than anyone else.
“You always want to do good especially against your buddies but other than that no,’’ he said. “I look forward to taking the mound against anybody, but it's a little more fun when there's a little bit of a relationship going in there.’’
Olson said familiarity was not a factor.
“I don’t think very much at all,” Olson said. “I had never faced him, or maybe I had a couple years ago in Seattle, but I didn’t really remember too much from him. I was still up there, kind of feeling him out a little bit. He just got behind and had to kind of come after me.”
Cash didn’t find any fault beyond the two improper pitches, especially since Pagan had allowed only two runs total in his first 20 outings.
“I don’t know if anything went wrong,’ he said. “He left maybe two pitches he’d like to have back a little up in the zone, but he’s been so lights-out for us. Look forward to getting him right back out there. It was almost shocking (given) how his season has gone to this point. He’ll be fine. Just gave up two home runs to guys that can hit the ball out of the ballpark.”
Cash, as he usually does, have the credit to the opposing pitchers, led by starter Mike Fiers, for shutting the Rays down.
“Kind of a quiet night at the plate obviously,’’ he said. “We didn’t do many things wrong, we were just pitched really, really tough.”
They got their first run on a 458-foot homer by Tommy Pham, the other on double steal in the fourth. Then Adames singled in Brandon Lowe in the ninth.
Their best early opportunity came in the second when they got their first two on as Ji-Man Choi walked and Adames singled. But they got nothing out of it as Kevin Kiermaier struck out, Mike Zunino, who by the end of the night was 1-for-his-last-31 and hitting .176 popped up, and, after the runners moved up on a wild pitch, Guillermo Heredia grounded out.
"We didn’t get the big hit and nothing went our way at the plate,'' Cash said. "We’re going to have some days like that.''
Contact Marc Topkin at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow @TBTimes_Rays.