Baserunning keeps Rays from beating Rangers

by Gary Shelton on September 12, 2019 · 0 comments

in general

Ji-Man Choi hit two home runs/CHUCK MULLER

Thursday, 4 a.m.

At this rate, the Tampa Bay Rays may run themselves out of the American League Wild-Card race.

The Rays lost four runners to pickoffs Wednesday night, keeping them from coming from behind for a second time in a 10-9 defeat. The Rays fell to a half-game ahead of Oakland and one game ahead of Cleveland in the scramble to reach the post-season.

It will never work if the Rays are unable to navigate the basepaths, however. Matt Duffy was picked off third. Ji-Man Choi was picked off second. Both Guillermo Heredia and Johnny Davis were picked off first.

Four runners in a one-run loss? Yeah, it's crippling.

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Kittredge couldn't get anyone out./JEFFREY KING

"Our  base running has gotten really, really good over the last couple of weeks," Rays' manager Kevin Cash said. "Tonight, it kind of came to a head.  We ended some scoring opportunities with  some over-aggressive baserunning."

Frankly, the Rays were fortunate to be the game at all. After the team took a 2-0 lead, it ran out of pitchers. The Rays gave up seven runs in the bottom of the first. Andrew Kittredge let the first six baserunners reach base -- he left the game giving up three earned runs and getting no one out. Then Jalen Beeks came in and gave up two earned runs while getting only two outs.

A home run by Choi (he would later add a second homer) tied the game at 7, and Duffy's sacrifice fly scored Austin Meadows to allow the Rays to take the lead.

However, Nick Anderson, who has been almost flawless since coming to the Rays, gave up a three-run homer to Rougned Odor.

“They were behind," Cash said of Kittredge and Beeks. "Kit had more pitches. We wanted to get aggressive and see if we could match up. We worked hard to get a 2-0 lead. Jalen ... it wasn’t his day. He was off for whatever reason."

The Rays now have a slim lead in the Wild-Card race.

"We’ve got to hang on," Cash said. "We’ve played really good baseball. We’ve won 10 of 11 or something like that. We came  up short tonight. We have to take care of our business. Let’s get back on a roll because we’ve been playing good."

The Rays play the Rangers again tonight at 8:15 p.m. Brendan McKay will throw for the Rays against Kolby Allard of Texas.

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