Even though the Tampa Bay Rays took their first lead of the 2016 season, they ultimately fell to Canada’s team once again by a 5-3 margin.
The Rays knew they were in for a long night with R.A. Dickey on the mound. And though they put themselves into scoring position right off the bat, after Logan Morrison worked a free pass and Evan Longoria moved him to third on a double to left-field, Corey Dickerson and Desmond Jennings sealed the team’s fate by collecting a weak popper to short and a weak comebacker to end the frame (in the order).
It wasn’t until the bottom of the next inning when the Rays broke the deadlock. With none on and one out, Steven Souza Jr. crushed an outside knuckler, depositing it into the right-field stands for his first homer, run and RBI of the season.
— Tampa Bay Rays (@RaysBaseball) April 4, 2016
However, Josh Thole answered by homering to right-center in the top of the third. That play was originally ruled a double because a fan interfered by reaching over the railing to catch the ball. However, the call was overturned and ruled a home run after being reviewed. Team representatives said the fan was “relocated” to another seat but not ejected.
The eventful third inning gave way to a strange fourth in which the Blue Jays took the go ahead lead.
With the game knotted at one, Troy Tulowitzki scored Jose Bautista from third on a sacrifice-fly to center. Chris Colabello followed, lofting a fly ball to right-field which Souza caught in foul territory. But when the right-fielder attempted to transfer the ball to his throwing hand, it popped out of his glove and rolled toward the bullpen wall. Somehow the play was ruled fair and “dropped” by Souza, who threw Colabello out at first. A five-minute review of the play followed, and it was finally ruled a catch in foul territory by the outfielder.
#Rays Smyly not crazy about 5 min replay review but more upset with allowing homers to 2 left-handed hitters tonight
— Roger Mooney (@RMooneyTBO) April 5, 2016
Meanwhile, Drew Smyly waited on the mound during the five minute delay. It could be argued that the delay affected Smyly’s rhythm as evidenced by Michael Saunders’ two-out, two-run homer to center that just cleared the wall. Kevin Kiermaier appeared to get a perfect read on the hit and timed his jump well in an attempt to rob the outfielder of a two-run shot. Yet the ball shot just over his outstretched glove, subsequently putting the Blue Jays up 4-1
It was the second of three homers allowed by Smyly to Toronto.
Josh Donaldson (now 6-11 with two homers against Smyly) then gave Toronto a four run lead on a laser shot to left-field in the fifth inning. Not since May 26, 2014 has the left-handed Smyly struggled so much with the long ball. Save for that night, Smyly had never given up more than two in a game — until now.
Danny Farquhar, Enny Romero and Steve Geltz followed Smyly with 2-1/3 innings of scoreless baseball, keeping the game close.
The Rays got a run back when Kiermaier hustled from first to third on a fifth inning single off the bat of Curt Casali. The Outlaw eventually scored after Dickey uncorked wild pitch that sailed past the outstretched glove of Thole. Kiermaier also singled home Desmond Jennings from third in the sixth, bringing Tampa Bay to within two.
Still, the Rays went 0-7 with runners in scoring position against Dickey, and 1-12 wRISP over the course of the game, with most of thosee chances coming early on. Blame it on a couple of unlucky breaks — for example, Casali was robbed of a run-scoring hit in the second by Tulowitzki — or the inability to come up big in the clutch.
Adding fuel to that fire, pinch-hitter Hank Conger went down out looking to end the eighth inning with runners on the corners.
Conger watched* as Drew Storen dotted the inside corner with a perfectly placed fastball, locking up the catcher.
How ever you see things, the Rays could get runners on an over, but they just couldn’t get them home. To be fair, Toronto also had a tough time with runners in scoring position, going 1-for-10. But, they did what the Rays couldn’t — push across a run in a critical situation.
The New What Next
Toronto and Tampa Bay will play game three of the four-game set Tuesday night. The right-handed Jake Odorizzi with throw opposite of fellow righty Aaron Sanchez. You can read about the pitching matchup in our series preview.
Rays 4/5/16 Starting Lineup
— Ryan Brett has been placed on the Triple-A DL with a right wrist flexor strain.
*Yeah, that left a sour taste in my mouth.