MILWAUKEE — That it was Willy Adames, the Rays’ former shortstop and clubhouse leader, who beat them hardly mattered Wednesday.
The bigger issue was how the Rays let another game they looked to have won turn into a frustrating loss, this one 4-3 to the Brewers in 10 innings.
It was something of a team effort.
Colin Poche let the ninth-inning lead get away when he gave up leadoff homer, left on left, to Rowdy Tellez. The Rays failed miserably in the top of the 10th, as Francisco Mejia (on a good Brewers play) and Taylor Walls (on a bad jump) ran into outs. And Ryan Thompson gave up the game-losing hit, after the Rays walked lefty Christian Yelich to bring up Adames, who slapped a run-scoring single to leftfield.
“Nobody likes to lose, and it’s a bad way to lose,” said Randy Arozarena, via team interpreter Manny Navarro. “We had Willy on our team and he’s been our teammate, but now he’s against us. He’s on the other side. So it doesn’t matter who hits the ball or who makes the play like that, it hurts. But our goal now is to look forward and hopefully win the next series.”
That next series, starting Friday at Tropicana Field against Baltimore, looks — unexpectedly — to be a big one. The Rays dropped to 58-52, matching the Orioles, who — depending on their Thursday result — could knock them from the three-team American League wild-card field.
The way the Rays played in two games against the Brewers, it might be fitting. Tuesday they made mistakes all over the field and lost 5-3. Wednesday they cleaned up their play and rallied from a 2-0, first-inning deficit that Jeffrey Springs put them in to take the lead in the seventh. But the Rays wasted a bases-loaded, one-out chance in the eighth (against another ex-mate, Hoby Milner) and still faltered at the end.
Poche had made four straight scoreless appearances, seeming to be past a rough month in which he had a 6.94 ERA in 13 games and blew three saves. He got ahead of the bulky Tellez 1-2, but missed with a curve — and then second-guessing himself later — a fastball. With the count full he went fastball again and left it right over the plate, the ninth homer Poche has allowed in 38 innings.
“Definitely disappointing to let them down like that,” he said. “Thompson gets the loss, but I put that one on me.”
Baserunning has been an adventure for the Rays, who have run into 52 outs and been caught stealing 29 times, both of which are most in the majors.
Mejia, who started the inning as the runner on second, broke for third when Walls pulled a hard ground ball to first. Tellez made a clean grab and strong throw across the diamond to nab Mejia.
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“Everybody did everything right,” Cash said. “Unfortunately, Rowdy just did a little bit better.”
With Jose Siri batting, Walls then broke for second and was thrown out. Cash said he was “fully supportive” of Walls trying to get into scoring position, “but you’d like to see a better jump.”
Cash said it was obvious strategy to have Thompson intentionally walk the left-handed Yelich in the bottom of the 10th regardless of what right-hander was up. It just happened to be Adames, who laced a grounder between third and short, scoring Tyrone Taylor from second.
Thompson said “anytime we blow a lead it sucks” and it didn’t matter who got the hit. “Not a lot to talk about,” he said. “I threw two pitches and the second one he hit through the hole. He hit a ground ball. That’s what my sinker usually gets, and it went through the hole.”
Adames said he got “excited’’when the Rays walked Yelich to face him. “It kind of pumps me up, like, ‘Let’s go. I’ve got to do it now,’” he said. “It’s just something I feel. ... I think it gives us a little extra.”
And, yes, the opponent did make it a bit more special for him.
“It feels good,” Adames said, “to do it against them.”
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