CLEVELAND — Rene Pinto leaned back on the dirt, his left foot still on second base, his arms spread to either side.
The pose reflected his words after the game, that he knew he had just made a costly mistake, one of several by the Rays that foiled their chances in Friday’s frustrating 3-2 loss to the Guardians.
Leading 2-1 in the seventh inning, the Rays seemed positioned for a promising chance to add on when Pinto laced a ball to left with two outs. Osleivis Basabe had hustled to third, and Tampa Bay would have had runners on the corners with Yandy Diaz, their most consistent, and best, hitter coming up.
Except Pinto, who like most catchers isn’t fast, decided to try to get to second. Guardians third baseman Jose Ramirez took the incoming throw and fired to second to prove that was a bad idea.
“I mean, (I’ve) got to learn from that,” Pinto said.” I just was thinking of two RBIs for Yandy. I’ve just got to make the adjustment. That’s it.”
His reaction was indeed telling.
“After I got out, I knew after me Yandy’s coming, one of the best hitters for the Rays” he said. “But I just did it, and we can’t go back. Just get ready for (Saturday).”
There seemed to be frustration among several Rays after the loss, which dropped them to 82-53, ended a four-game winning streak and took a little luster off a run in which they had won 10 of their previous 12 games, 13 of 17 and 20 of 29. With Baltimore’s 4-2 loss Friday at Arizona, Tampa Bay remained 1½ games back in the American League East.
“We had to play really good baseball to win that game, given that we were sitting at a 2-1 lead and we didn’t,” Rays manager Kevin Cash said.
Starting pitcher Tyler Glasnow, who had a solid seven-inning outing, also was complicit.
He was late covering first base during a third-inning sequence that, after a replay reversal, led to the Guardians’ first run. Kole Calhoun’s fly to left with one out scored Myles Straw. Had there been two outs, it would have ended the inning.
Glasnow tried to explain why he started to first as Diaz made the play on Steven Kwan’s ground ball but then stopped before breaking again too late. “I thought Yandy was right there and I looked over, then I sprinted back over,” he said. “I didn’t see him. ... It was, like, out of focus. I don’t know what it was. I thought he was closer to the bag. ... It was kind of weird.”
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Glasnow also blamed himself for failing to execute several pitches in the decisive bottom of the seventh, when Cleveland scored twice to go ahead with three hits in a four-batter sequence.
“Just kind of leaving stuff in the middle,” Glasnow said. “Like not getting, I guess, good bite on any of my pitches. Not very well executed late-in-count pitches.”
Most notable was an 0-2 curveball that Gabriel Arias hit for an RBI single, scoring the tying run and setting up Bo Naylor’s double to score the go-ahead run.
“II wanted to get that lower, for sure,” Glasnow said.
Things didn’t work out too well for the Rays at the plate, either.
Shut down after scoring runs in each of the first two innings against starter Cal Quantrill, including 12 straight plate appearances without a base runner, they failed to take advantage of opportunities against Cleveland relievers in the seventh and eighth. They finished the night 0-for-5 with runners in scoring position and were victimized by some key catches by the Guardians in the outfield.
Pinto’s base running was the issue in the seventh.
“Ideally, know the game; we’ve got to know the game state right there with Yandy coming to the plate (with) an opportunity,” Cash said. “We like our chances anytime Yandy is coming up — no outs, one out, two outs, doesn’t matter.”
In the eighth, the Rays had two on with one out, but Josh Lowe, who had issues with home plate umpire Chris Segal earlier, struck out and Isaac Paredes flied out.
It wasn’t a good start to September, as the Rays let one get away and wasted a solid Glasnow outing as well.
“He did really good,” Josh Lowe said. “For him to go seven really strong innings, we’ve got to back him up better.”
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