Tampa Bay sought an early lead in the first inning with runners at first and second after Grady Sizemore led off with a walk, and Daniel Nava grounded up the middle. Royals hurler Edinson Volquez put Evan Longoria away with a nasty changeup in the dirt for the first out of the frame. With John Jaso at the plate, both runners tried to advance on a ball in the dirt against the strong arm of Salvador Perez. He got the ball to second base in time to catch Nava — eliciting a review by Cash. The play was close, and the tag may not have been made, but there wasn’t a replay angle that offered enough clear and convincing evidence to overturn the out call. John Jaso followed by hitting a rally ending grounder to first.
The failed replay would come back to haunt Cash in the third inning.
Kansas City took a one run lead in the second against Erasmo Ramirez. Perez slapped an outside fastball through the right side, then advanced to second when Ramirez yanked a slider in what was called a passed ball. Rene Rivera almost stopped the errant pitch to no avail, it entered and exited his glove. Paulo Orlando responded by hitting an opposite field base hit, scoring the run. Yet the Rays were able to tie the score in the bottom of the frame.
With one out, Asdrubal Cabrera roped a pitch through the middle for a single. James Loney lined a backdoor breaking pitch into the right-field corner for a double. And as the ball rattled around in the corner, Cabrera scored all the way from first.
Missed opportunity alert… The inning ended with a base running gaffe on the part of Loney. The first baseman misread a Kevin Kiermaier liner into left-center, and tried to take an early jump to score. Yet the ball hung up for Orlando, who snared the hit, before it fell into play and easily doubled Loney off second.
The Royals tacked on two more in the third. Ramirez allowed a pair of base runners to start the inning, although the righty coaxed a double play-ball that appeared to get him out of trouble. Instead Kendrys Morales mashed a two-out, two-run homer that ricocheted off one of the lights on the catwalk in center.
Kiermaier climbed the wall as he anticipated a play on the homer.
The Rays then scored a two-out run in the third. With two out and none on, Nava and Longoria went back-to-back with base hits. The Trop’s roof helped plate a run when Jaso skied a ball into shallow left. Orlando misjudged and overran the easy play, allowing the ball to bounce off his glove. One run scored, moving runners to second and third.
Logan Forsythe grounded a ball to short, but Alcides Escobar was late with his throw to first, and Forsythe appeared to beat it out. Yet Brian O’Nura, the first-base umpire, clearly got the call wrong — thus ending the inning. With no challenges left, Cash stormed out of the dugout and gave it to O’Nura before getting the old heave-hoe. The game should have been tied at three, but it was not.
From there, the Rays never got a runner past second base. Meanwhile Xavier Cedeno, Matt Andriese and Steve Geltz combined to throw 4-2/3 innings of scoreless ball for the second consecutive game. Tampa Bay was unable to threaten, and lost another winnable game.
The New What Next
Jake Odorizzi (6-6, 3.02) will get the start on Saturday, opposite of Kris Medlen (2-0, 3.10 ERA) and the Royals. Odorizzi has made 14 quality starts and failed to win 10 of them. The former Royal will make his fourth career appearance against his old team; he is 0-2 with a 6.91 ERA. Medlen made his first start of the season last Monday, allowing three runs in six innings while fanning six and walking none. You can read about the pitching matchup in our series preview.
Rays 8/29/15 Starting Lineup
— Did I mention that my favorite player returned to the Trop for the first time since being traded? Watching Ben Zobrist do his thing for the Royals was bitter sweet to say the least.
As Ian Malinowski (DRaysBay) noted, through 390 plate appearances, he’s having his best season since 2012, and it’s pretty interesting. He’s striking out only 9.7% of the time. That’s the lowest of his career, ever.
— The Rays put together a heartfelt tribute to Zobrist before the game. I may have shed a tear or two in section 143.
— Marc Topkin (@TBTimes_Rays) August 28, 2015
— Rays skipper Kevin Cash told Marc Topkin (Tampa Bay Times) that there will likely be some call-ups on Tuesday, while others can be expected after the Durham Bulls’ season ends on September 7th. Matt Moore and pitching phenom Blake Snell are in discussion, among others.