Rays blow lead to lose first home series of year

by Gary Shelton on April 24, 2017 · 2 comments

in general

Colombia went two innings and blew his first save of the season./JEFFREY S. KING

Colombia went two innings and blew his first save of the season./JEFFREY S. KING

Monday, 4 a.m.

These days, closers seem to built for one inning at a time.

Ask for more, and you could be asking for trouble.

Consider the Rays' 6-4 loss to the Houston Astros in 10 innings Sunday. Alex Colome was four-for-four in save opportunities coming into the game. This time, the Rays held a 4-3 lead in the ninth.

But Colome, for the first time, was not equal to the task. A single (the third of the game by Yuli Gurreal), a ground-out, a passed ball and a sacrifice fly led to the tying run. The Astros scored twice in the top of the 10th to win the game.

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Souza hit his fourth home run of the season./JEFFREY S. KING

Souza hit his fourth home run of the season./JEFFREY S. KING

It was the largest blown lead since September of 2016, and it led to the Rays losing their first series at home for the year.

The decision to go for two innings with Colome when one-at-a-time was working will be discussed. Sure, a reliever should be able to go two innings. But is it wise?

“We let one get away from us, obviously,” said manager Kevin Cash. “We came out and had an early lead, really strong performance in the 1st. You’d like to add on, but you also have to credit Musgrove for shutting it down. He got really good, mixed and mixed and we couldn’t get anything going after that. Look, we played good this homestand, no doubt about that. We would have like to get this one, but we will bounce back here tomorrow when we get to Baltimore.”

The Rays are light in their bullpen with injuries, but Cash said that wasn't why Colome was asked to pitch the eighth and ninth.

“Coming into the season,” said Cash, “we said 'if he's fresh, we'll lean on him for two innings to try to win that night.' “

Colome had no problems with what the Rays asked.

“I’m good with this,” he said. “They told me in spring training, if they need me for two innings, am I good? I said yes. I’m good to throw two innings when I can. ...I pitched last night, I was good for today, maybe I’ll be ready for tomorrow too. I’m feeling fresh.”

The Rays looked as if they were in for an easy win, scoring four times in the first. The Astros, however, pecked away with two runs in the third and one in the fifth to get close before their late comeback.

Brad Miller turns another double play./JEFFREY S. KING

Brad Miller turns another double play./JEFFREY S. KING

“Unfortunately, we let us on the gas for a little bit,” said Steven Souza Jr., who hit his fourth home run of the season. “I don’t think intentionally, but just barreled some balls and popped them up. We couldn’t get anything going.”

Souza drove in his 17th run, the most since Ben Zobrist had 19 in 2012. He has now hit in seven straight games and nine of his last 10.

Brad Miller had his third triple of the season.

Starter Matt Andriese went five innings, giving up six hits. Ryan Garton pitched the 10th and took the loss.

“He was OK," Cash said. "He battled with himself a lot and couldn’t quite find comfort in the zone and he started pumping strikes. When we put the four-spot and he goes back out and loads the bases, nobody scored, but that was a little telling that you have some separation to work with right there and didn’t take advantage as much as we could have.”

Said Andriese:  “I didn’t have great command today. I still battled through there. I only had 88 pitches through 5 innings, and I still felt like I had more in the tank. That’s just the way it goes sometimes.”

The Rays are now 10-10 on the season. They now travel to Baltimore to start a three-game series with the Orioles. Chris Archer will pitch against Ubaldo Jiminez. This season, the Rays are 1-6 on the road.

Andries started well, but he lasted only five innings./JEFFREY S. KING

Andries started well, but he lasted only five innings./JEFFREY S. KING

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{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Larry Beller April 24, 2017 at 5:08 am

I know that was technically a blown save by Colome but it is much more than that. It’s an organizational blown save by deciding in the spring not to get another power arm for the bullpen and have your closer to get 8 outs “when he’s fresh”. It’s a blown save by management to have a career second baseman play first base so a routine grounder that should have been at least become a force out at second but due to Weeks’ inexperience at the position became an out at first allowing the runner to advance. Then the catcher inexplicably allows a passed ball so the runner goes to third. A routine fly ball that is potentially shallow enough to throw the runner out at home but nobody on this team not named Kiermaier is capable of making that throw so the runner scores. The save is blown because the offense becomes stone cold awful after the first inning and can manage 2 harmless hits over the next 9 innings. It was blown because once again the starter can’t get past 5 innings so a shorthanded bullpen must cover 4 innings. But the save was blown so let’s blame the closer who is one of the 2 most competent pitchers on the team. Hey he should have struck out those 8 guys right?

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Larry Beller April 24, 2017 at 6:13 am

Check that, 6 guys not 8.

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