Rays bullpen has a rare poor outing in loss

by Gary Shelton on June 28, 2021

in general

Choi gave the Rays a lead with a three-run homer./JEFFREY S. KING

Monday, 4 a.m.

They are the players you trust the most. With a lead on the scoreboard, and the ball in one of their hands, the bullpen of the Tampa Bay Rays can be overwhelming.

Pitcher after pitcher, they come at you in waves. Their fastballs are electric, and their breaking balls are sharp, and as a unit, they deal in zeroes.

Until Sunday, when the Los Angeles Angels, and especially Shohei Ohtani, wore the unit out in a 6-4 victory.

Content beyond this point is for members only.

Already a member? To view the rest of this column, sign in using the handy "Sign In" button located in the upper right corner of the GarySheltonSports.com blog (it's at the far right of the navigation bar under Gary's photo)!

Not a member? It's easy to subscribe so you can view the rest of this column and all other premium content on GarySheltonSports.com.

The Angels scored four runs on five hits against the Rays' vaunted bullpen, scoring in each of the last four innings to win.

The Ray's bullpen had been the best in the American League with a 2.97 ERA this season. They were third in the majors behind the Cubs (2.68) and Padres (2.85). Even more telling, the bullpen had a 1.83 ERA in its last 22 games, the best in the majors It was the true strength of the team since April 21 -- when it was 26th in the majors with a 5.07 ERA,

But it wasn't efficient Sunday. Ryan Thompson gave up two earned runs in 2/3 of an inning. Mike Wisler gave up an earned run. Pete Fairbanks gave up an earned run. And the Angels came back from a 4-2 deficit.

"Obviously, it’s not ideal," Thompson said. "We’ve been pretty good this whole year. In those positions, we typical  lock it in. For us to come in and blow it...it sucks. We're doing what we do, and sometimes they clip us, and sometimes, we put them in the ground. It was the former this time."

Said manager Kevin Cash: "They’ve set a high standard for themselves. Today, credit the Angeles. They put together some big at-bats at the right times. The (Juan) Legares at-bat against Thompson stands out to me as much as anything. We couldn’t put him away. He hangs in there — foul ball, foul ball, foul ball — and then gets a slider that Randy (Arozarena) almost makes a great play on.It’ll be nice to get an off-day and freshen them up."

The Rays have blown a lead in their last six losses, and blown multi-run leads in four of those six losses.

The leader of the assault was Ohtani, who has destroyed Rays' pitching this year. He had a double, triple and a homer (plus a walk). He drove in three runs.

"You don’t need much of a reminder (of how good he is)," Cash aid. "You see from a distance what the guy does. He’s really good. He can beat you in many ways. He hangs in there on lefties. He’s willing to go the other way. He's a very good player."

Thompson said his slider isn't as effective as normal.

"My slider isn't really doing it lately.," he said. "I don’t know if they’re sitting on my slider or whatever. The last tweak or two, it hasn't been working how it has in the past. They’re adapting faster than I am.

“I’m not getting swings and misses the way I do. Whether I’m hanging it or its spinning out of my hand I could be telegraphing it. I could be throwing it in obvious counts. I have to be better."

The Rays have today off, then travel to Washington play the Nationals at 1:10 p.m. on Tuesday. Rich Hill will start for the Rays against Joe Ross.

Previous post:

Next post: