Rays can’t hold lead in loss to Kansas City

by Gary Shelton on April 22, 2021

in general

Castillo was unable to close it out./CHUCK MULLER

Thursday, 4 a.m.

Well, the winning was nice while it lasted.

An aching bullpen caught up to the Tampa Bay Rays Wednesday night in a 9-8 loss to the Kansas City Royals. The Rays were ahead early, and they retained the lead late, but in the end, Salvador Perez's single down the left field line won it for the Royals.

Yes, the Rays won five of six on their road trip, which is good, but they let a chance for a second-straight series sweep evade them. The Royals, who trailed 4-0 in the first, 6-3 in the seventh and 8-7 going into the bottom of the ninth, came back for the victory.

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"To win five out of six, that’s a great road trip.," said third baseman Joey Wendle, who had two hits and raised his batting average to .365. "We have a bit of a sour taste in our mouths of letting that one get away from us, but we’re going to look back and say that was a good road trip."

Wendle's double in the top of the ninth had given the Rays a one-run lead, but the Royals came back with two. The tying run was scored on a bloop single, a stolen base, a wild pitch and a squeeze bunt, all off closer Diego Castillo.

It was a forgettable night by the Rays pitchers. Starter Michael Wacha gave up three earned runs. Relievers Josh Reed (three earned runs in two-thirds of an inning), Ryan Thompson (one earned run in 1 2/3 innings, and then Castilla (two earned runs in two-thirds of an inning) all failed to stop the bleeding. It was a night the Rays missed Nick Anderson, Chaz Roe and Pete Fairbanks.

"I don’t think (Castillo) was as sharp as we’re accustomed to seeing," said manager Kevin Cash. "He just threw a couple of pulled pitches. He didn’t quite have his command. Give the Royals credit. (Tuesday) night they kept coming, Tonight they kept coming. We just couldn’t quite hold them down."

Cash was not surprised by the squeeze bunt to tie the game.

"Not at all," he said. "You pick. your spot if you are going to pitch out. Kyle (Snyder, the pitching coach) went out there and gave them the message. 'Be aware of it.'  (Nicky) Lopez did a nice job of getting the ball down."

Said Wendle: “It was a perfect bunt with a really fast runner on third. I don’t know that there's any way to defend it."

In a way, the Rays were lucky to have a ninth inning lead. Consider the Royals' sixth inning. Perez hit a ball off the right field wall, but he was so sure it was going to be a homer, that he was tagged out as he jogged to second base. In the same inning, Jorge Soler hit a deep double off the left field wall that also appeared to be gone.

"You’ve got to be pleased any time you win five out of six," Cash said of his team's road trip. "We were close to sweeping an entire road trip. We just came up short. We competed great. Kansas City wouldn’t go away and they ended up winning."

The Rays have today off, then return to Tropicana Field to play Toronto on Friday night at 7:10 p.m. The Blue Jays have not announced their starting pitcher. The Rays will start Tyler Glasnow.

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