After a rough couple days with Monday’s injury to top starter Tyler Glasnow and Tuesday’s shutout loss, the Rays had something to feel good about Wednesday in Chicago as they battled back from a five-run, fifth-inning deficit to tie the White Sox in the eighth and send the game into extra innings.
But the ending left them frustrated, an 8-7 loss after Yasmani Grandal singled in the winning run off Pete Fairbanks with one out in the 10th.
“Anytime you ruin a really good effort sucks,” Fairbanks said.
The Rays lost two of three to the White Sox and their grip on the best record in the majors. After their first back-to-back losses in two weeks, they head to Seattle with a 43-26 record. The Sox are 43-25.
Fairbanks was most mad at himself after Jose Abreu started the 10th with a groundout that moved Andrew Vaughn, the designated runner, from second to third before Grandal’s liner into the rightfield corner ended it.
“Throwing too many sliders,” Fairbanks said. “ ... Throwing way too many off-speed pitches instead of attacking people. Comes down to that. If I want to attack people, I’ll be good. If I don’t want to attack, I won’t be.
“... Physically everything is fine. I’m just not attacking hitters. I’m pussyfooting around instead of going after people.”
Fairbanks also made it clear he is not a fan of what he called “a seventh-grade softball rule” that has teams, as they did last year, start extra innings with a runner on second. (The Rays are 3-6 in extra-inning games.)
“It is what it is; you’ve got to play with it,” he said. “Obviously I didn’t execute, so I can’t really complain too much. Do I think it’s stupid? Yeah. I wish that you would just go play baseball, like you play baseball for the previous nine (innings).”
Lost in the defeat was another show of the Rays’ resiliency, as they clawed back from a 7-2 hole after starter Ryan Yarbrough gave up four runs in the fourth and, in part due to a Yandy Diaz throwing error, three more in the fifth.
“I probably don’t weigh that maybe as much as I should, but certainly with what’s gone on here the last couple days and the frustrations, the guys stayed at it,” manager Kevin Cash said.
“We had a bunch of just really big at-bats. … Encouraged and overall impressed with the way the guys were able to get back in the game and then ultimately tie it.”
Without a baserunner in the fourth against Sox starter Lucas Giolito, the Rays started their comeback in the fifth, with the first of those good at-bats, a two-run double by Kevin Kiermaier.
After his errant throw after fielding a bunt in the fifth helped the Sox extend their lead, Diaz got a run back in the sixth. Having ended a 62-game, 210 at-bat steak without a homer on June 6, Diaz hit another — and pulled it at that — lining a Giolito pitch over the leftfield fence.
The Rays got to within 7-5 in the seventh when Mike Zunino, 0-for-his-last 12 and 2-for-30, hit a two-run homer, his 13th of the season, most among big-league catchers.
They tied it in the eighth. Pinch-hitter Mike Brosseau reached on an error, went to third on Austin Meadows’ single off lefty Aaron Bummer and scored on Diaz’s infield grounder. With two outs, Manuel Margot worked their best at-bat, battling through nine pitches and lacing a double to left-center, with pinch-runner Brett Phillips, breaking on the full-count pitch, scoring from first. But they got no more.
Did the mid-June matchup between the league’s top teams prove anything?
“I don’t know if I learned anything,” Cash said. “Felt like they were a very good team, the White Sox. I know we’re a very good team. And you saw three pretty good ballgames. You saw some high-octane bullpens, some good starts and some big at-bats.”
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