Rays play down to Royals’ level in defeat

by Gary Shelton on June 23, 2023

in general

Diaz couldn't make play in ninth inning./TIM WIRT

Friday, 4 a.m.

Remember when the Tampa Bay Rays were good? Remember how the cynics pointed out they were beating up on bad teams?

This just in: The Rays don’t beat up bad teams anymore.

The Rays found a way to play down to another opponent Thursday night, dropping a 6-5 game to a Kansas City team that had won only 20 games coming in and had lost 13 of its previous 15. 

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Ninth-inning replay went against Diaz./TIM WIRT

The Rays, who also dropped two games to Oakland recently, had all the advantages. They were home, and they had Shane McClanahan on the mound. They took the lead early and retook it late.

And they still lost.

The Rays got a shaky start from McClanahan, who got only 11 outs, and their late-inning combo of of Jason Adam and Pete Fairbanks blew up. The Rays had Yandy Diaz fall going into third. They had Randy Arozarena thrown out trying to tag and get to third. They lost the game on a mishandled nubber at first base. They gave up seven steals. They walked the winning run on base.

In other words, it wasn’t crisp. It was a gray-sky kind of day for the Rays, who benched Wander Franco before the game to adjust his approach to the game. They were worried about McClanahan’s back affecting his velocity.

And they made the Royals look like contenders.

Take the ninth. Maikel Garcia walked to start the inning. Then he stole second. Then he stole third. Then he scored on a dribbler from M.J. Melendez when Yandy Diaz couldn’t get the ball to Fairbanks, who was covering first.

“In that situation, ideally we’re not walking the leadoff guy,” Rays’ manager Kevin Cash said.

Tge Rays seemed to have enough offense, as both Diaz and Arozarena had three hits. That led the Rays to a 5-3 after seven, but the bullpen couldn’t hold it.

The Rays and Royals play again today at 6:40 p.m. at Tropicana Field. Zack Eflin will start for the Rays against  Zack Greinke.

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