ST. PETERSBURG — When Ryan Yarbrough came up short for the Rays on Saturday and failed to get through even four innings, they had to start a parade from the bullpen to the mound.
That path is well traveled, and often successful. The problem is that it requires a higher number of pitchers to be on their game. On this night, J.P. Feyereisen, Colin Poche and Jason Adam all were sharp.
That got the Rays to the eighth inning in a tie game, and to Ryan Thompson, who got a key out in Friday’s win.
Saturday, he made a mess, allowing two homers and two singles, leading to four runs. And that was the difference, as this lesser Tampa Bay-Toronto battle went to the northerners, 5-1.
“It was super frustrating,” Thompson said. “I’ve already rewatched every pitch I threw. I stand by the pitches I threw and I stand by the locations I threw them. I just got beat today. Got my ass kicked today.”
It happened quickly.
Thompson allowed a leadoff homer to Teoscar Hernandez on his fourth pitch. Then came a one-out single, a grounder to first for the second out, an errant throw by first baseman Harold Ramirez that shouldn’t have been made, an RBI single and a two-run homer by Danny Jansen.
“The name of the game today was it wasn’t my day and it was theirs,” Thompson said.
For the Rays, it was a disappointing night all around. They managed only six hits as they were held to one or zero runs for the third time in six games, and they were not sharp in the field, dropping to 20-14. The Jays improved to 18-16 in snapping a five-game losing streak that was their longest in nearly a year.
Manager Kevin Cash made a point to acknowledge that Yarbrough did well to allow only one run, on a sac fly after loading the bases in the first inning, after throwing five shutout innings in his previous outing.
But he also made it clear that throwing 80 pitches to get 11 outs wasn’t good enough either, especially given the impact on the bullpen. And even more so with Jeffrey Springs, whose workload is limited as he transitions from reliever to starter, on the mound Sunday.
“We’ve got to find a way to get a little bit more efficient, pitching-wise,” Cash said. “We’ve really taxed our bullpen. (Eighty) pitches through 3 2/3 is challenging.”
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An additional factor is that this was just Yarbrough’s third appearance after a lengthy injured list stint to start the season, so his workload was going to be limited, putting more of a premium on efficiency.
Instead, he allowed the one run, two hits and three walks while striking out two. Only 46 of his 80 pitches were strikes, with first-pitch strikes to just eight of 18 batters.
“Strike throwing just kind of eluded him there,” Cash said. “We had a chance to get through the fourth clean. And then there’s a decision to make to send him back out or not (for the fifth inning), but we walk the (Nos.) 8-9 guys and that puts us in a little bit of a jam.”
Yarbrough, who had a rough season debut, then the extremely strong second outing in Seattle, never really found a rhythm or a consistent groove that he needs to make his less-than-overpowering stuff work.
“More of just frustrating, just fighting myself really,” Yarbrough said. “Just really couldn’t seem to consistently put things where I wanted to. If you’re going to take some things (out of it) you’ve got to understand that, and keeping a good lineup at bay there. But it was a lot of just fighting myself, while also try to make good quality pitches to them.”
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