1. Sports
  2. /
  3. Rays

Tampa Bay Rays fall in a sleepy loss to Boston

Red Sox 7, Rays 4: After back-to-back dramatic comebacks, Tampa Bay’s only excitement Sunday comes on Brendan McKay’s first major-league home run.
Rays relief pitcher Andrew Kittredge (36) sits in the dugout during Tampa Bay's 7-4 loss to Boston Sunday, September 22, 2019, in St. Petersburg. [DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD  |  Tampa Bay Times]
Rays relief pitcher Andrew Kittredge (36) sits in the dugout during Tampa Bay's 7-4 loss to Boston Sunday, September 22, 2019, in St. Petersburg. [DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD | Tampa Bay Times]
Published Sep. 22, 2019
Updated Sep. 23, 2019

ST. PETERSBURG — Six games to go.

For the Rays, involved in a tight race to the postseason, every one of them has urgency.

Yes, Sunday afternoon’s 7-4 defeat against the Red Sox seemed deflating for the announced crowd of 17,946 at Tropicana Field. But that sensation must fade — quickly. The Rays spring back into action for Monday night’s finale to the four-game series before welcoming the Yankees for the regular season’s final two home games.

“We’re going to lose at some point and it’s disappointing,’’ Rays third baseman Joey Wendle said. “You never want to lose when you’re in a race like this (but) we’re right in the thick of it.’’

The Rays (92-64) woke up Monday tied with the Cleveland Indians for the second American League wild-card spot. The Indians beat the Phillies 10-1 Sunday night to even the race.

After a pair of late-night electrifying walk-off extra-inning victories, the Rays lost Sunday by early walkover after left-hander Ryan Yarbrough was ambushed in a four-run first inning.

“All in all, it was really frustrating,’’ said Yarbrough (11-5), who lost back-to-back decisions for the first time in his career while yielding six runs in his second straight start. “At the time of year, it shouldn’t be happening, especially where we’re at right now in the race.’’

Yarbrough surrendered six hits in the first inning, including a three-run homer by Christian Vazquez, and trailed 4-0.

The Rays tried to make a game of it, chipping away with single runs in each of the first three innings, including a second-inning RBI single by Kevin Kiermaier (ending a career-high 0-for-22 slump) and a third-inning solo homer by Wendle.

But Yarbrough, suddenly within 4-3, still couldn’t hold down the Red Sox. He was lifted in the fourth after allowing a leadoff double to Jackie Bradley Jr. and walking Rafael Devers.

Reliever Andrew Kittredge made things worse by hitting Xander Bogaerts with his first pitch, loading the bases, then walking J.D. Martinez to force in a run. The sloppiness continued when Devers scored on a wild pitch. In the seventh, the Red Sox scored their final run on Wendle’s two-out fielding error.

Overall, the Rays had only four runners in scoring position. They couldn’t do much against Red Sox starter Nathan Eovaldi (2-0) and five relievers.

There was a magnificent sight to witness in the ninth when two-way player Brendan McKay blasted a 420-foot pinch-hit solo homer off the Trop’s right-field “D’’ ring.

“We know he’s really talented, whether he’s on the mound or in the batter’s box,’’ Rays manager Kevin Cash said. “He put a charge into one.’’

Mostly, though, there wasn’t much to see.

Especially from Yarbrough, who hasn’t won a decision since Aug. 11.

“It looked like early on he couldn’t execute pitches when he got ahead,’’ Cash said. “He got ahead of guys, but just couldn’t put them away.

“A couple of soft hits in there, but then Vazquez comes up with the big blow to separate the game early on. He was falling behind when he got ahead and didn’t have the finishing pitch. Ideally, that’s not going to set you up for too strong of an outing.’’

Yarbrough is winless (0-2) is his last seven starts (beginning Aug. 17) with a 5.45 ERA over that stretch.

“Just got to put it behind (us) and get back at it,’’ Yarbrough said.

“You move on to the next one,’’ Wendle said.

From momentary deflation back to the customary urgency of a postseason race.

That’s life for the Rays.

Six games to go.


  1. Baseball commissioner Rob Manfred takes questions about the Houston Astros during a news conference at the Atlanta Braves' spring training facility Sunday in North Port.
  2. Brandon Lowe, left, and Austin Meadows signeautographs after working out at Rays camp in Port Charlotte on Sunday.
  3. Tampa Bay Rays starting pitcher Alex Cobb walks back to the mound after giving up a three-run home run to Houston Astros' Jake Marisnick third inning of a baseball game, Monday, July 31, 2017, in Houston.
  4. In this Aug. 4, 2017, file photo Toronto Blue Jays relief pitcher Mike Bolsinger, left, walks off the mound as the Houston Astros' Marwin Gonzalez rounds the bases after hitting a three-run home run during the fourth inning of a baseball game in Houston. Bolsinger sued the Astros on Feb. 10, 2020, claiming their sign-stealing scheme contributed to a poor relief appearance August 2017 that essentially ended his big league career.
  5. A sign marks the entrance to the Houston Astros' spring training baseball practice facility in West Palm Beach.
  6. Houston Astros' Jose Altuve celebrate after a two-run home run off New York Yankees pitcher Aroldis Chapman to win Game 6 of baseball's American League Championship Series against the New York Yankees Saturday, Oct. 19, 2019, in Houston. The Astros won 6-4 to win the series 4-2. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)
  7. Mike Zunino, right, appears to be the primary catcher as the Rays' roster takes shape early in spring training.
  8. Tampa Bay Rays principal owner Stuart Sternberg watches his pitching staff throw during spring training baseball camp Friday, Feb. 14, 2020, in Port Charlotte, Fla. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)
  9. New Tampa Bay Rays OF Yoshi Tsutsugo talking to media after first workout, with minor-league athletic trainer Tsutomu Kamiya translating.
  10. Pitchers Joe Ryan (left) and Phoenix Sanders during Friday's workout.
  11. Tampa Bay Rays relief pitcher Jose Alvarado throws during spring training baseball camp Friday in Port Charlotte.
  12. The Tampa Bay Rays tweeted individual Valentine's Day messages to each of the other 29 teams in Major League Baseball.