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Rays rally, but fall short in series opener against White Sox

A three-run, eighth-inning comeback is wasted when JT Chargois gives up a game-tying homer, then Rays lose it in the 11th.
Umpire Phil Cuzzi, Rays catcher Mike Zunino, starting pitcher Michael Wacha and pitching coach Kyle Snyder meet at the mound in the second inning Friday night against the White Sox.
Umpire Phil Cuzzi, Rays catcher Mike Zunino, starting pitcher Michael Wacha and pitching coach Kyle Snyder meet at the mound in the second inning Friday night against the White Sox. [ IVY CEBALLO | Times ]
Published Aug. 21
Updated Aug. 21

ST. PETERSBURG — As much as the Rays did wrong against the White Sox on Friday — and there was plenty — they did enough right to get to the ninth inning with the lead.

Then they let that get away — and the game two innings later — falling 7-5 to the White Sox in 11 innings in a tense opener to the three-game series between two American League division leaders.

“This one stings a little bit because we had such a great comeback. So, yeah, it hurts,” reliever Andrew Kittredge said. “And it’s a really good team over there. We want to perform well against the best teams in the league. We’re a really good team. And I don’t see any reason why we’re not going to just bounce back and get right after it (Saturday).”

The loss — which ended the Rays’ four-game win streak, dropped their AL-best record to 75-48 and cut their lead in the East over the Yankees to four games — certainly will be fresh in their heads. Friday’s game ended at 11 p.m., just 14 hours and 10 minutes before Saturday’s first pitch.

Chicago’s Tim Anderson — who delivered the Hollywood ending to the Aug. 12 Field of Dreams game — had a starring role in Friday’s win.

White Sox shortstop Tim Anderson scores in the eleventh inning Friday night at Tropicana Field.
White Sox shortstop Tim Anderson scores in the eleventh inning Friday night at Tropicana Field. [ IVY CEBALLO | Times ]

First, he opened the ninth by hitting a game-tying homer off recently acquired reliever JT Chargois. This after the Rays had rallied dramatically for three runs in the eighth on two-out hits by Wander Franco and Austin Meadows (and off a lefty at that).

Then he knocked in the go-ahead run with a single leading off the 11th and scored an insurance run after taking second on the throw. He moved up on a passed ball — that Kittredge said was his fault for using a quick-step delivery and leaving a slider up — and scored on a ground out.

“He’s a really good player to begin with and he’s really clutch,” Rays manager Kevin Cash said. “You see him on the highlights all the time, some late-inning heroics, and he got us (Friday) for sure.”

The Rays put themselves in the position of playing from behind with some sloppy play in the field.

They made three errors and had a few other missed plays, while Mike Zunino had three passed balls and couldn’t hang on to two third-strike foul tips.

“It was uncharacteristic for just our club in general,” Cash said. “We had errors, we had plays that should have been called errors. We didn’t do our pitchers many favors (Friday). But we’ll bounce back (Saturday) and get back to playing that solid defense and run prevention that we’ve been so good at.”

There were some other missteps as well.

Rays rightfielder Manuel Margot can't make the catch in the first inning.
Rays rightfielder Manuel Margot can't make the catch in the first inning. [ IVY CEBALLO | Times ]
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Cash said the decision to use Chargois, who was 0-for-6 in previous save situations and hadn’t pitched in the ninth with a game on the line for either Seattle or the Rays this year, was in line with their no-set-roles bullpen strategy. He was warming up in the event the Rays tied it, and though Kittredge and Collin McHugh also were available, they gave Chargois the ninth. The Rays lost when leading after eight innings for just the third time in 64 games.

“Totally comfortable with JT going out there,” Cash said. “Really any of them. At that part of the lineup you know you’re facing the top, it’s heavy righties.”

The Rays didn’t do much after that. They got a walk to start the ninth, and nothing else, going down 1-2-3 in both extra innings, leaving them with just 20 runs in 22 extra frames and a 5-11 record in such games.

On the plus side, Michael Wacha had a better start than his previous three rough outings. And even though he allowed eight hits, five were on ground balls.

Still, though, a bad night all around.

“Just overall some uncharacteristic things on our end that will be cleaned up real quick,” Zunino said.

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