Due to the past weekend being dedicated to my birthday celebration and a Bridal Shower, I have missed the past few Rays games; but, I have heard nothing about sorrow about the Rays. Today, I was hoping the Rays would win the game due to the win yesterday; but, after seeing Kelly Shoppach and Felipe Lopez were in the line-up, I was becoming a doubter. But in the 2nd inning, Shoppach doubled, which led to a run. In the 3rd inning, B.J. Upton and Lopez both drove in runs. In other words, even the worst Rays batters were batting.
Then it got scary in the bottom of the 3rd when the Seattle Mariners were up to bat. Wade Davis began the inning by walking the lead off batter Carlos Peguero, then allowed a single, triple, sac-bunt, and a single. At the end of the 3rd inning, the Mariners had tied the inning up. Through the next several innings, both pitchers managed to prevent base runners until the top of the 7th inning. Davis walked the lead-off hitter then allowed a single by Peguero. I was hoping Davis would be taken out to prevent another inning in which he blew the lead, but Davis stayed in. He kept throwing balls and looked awful and allowed the Mariners to take the lead at 5-3.
Things were looking bleak for the Rays but luckily Damon, Zobrist, and Joyce helped the Rays tie the game. With 2 out, Evan Longoria was called in to pinch-hit. Longo had been out due to soreness, but is expected to play tomorrow against Anaheim Angels. Longo singled, allowing the Rays to take the lead at 6-5.
Now there was only 6 outs left before the Rays could get the win, but J.P. Howell was up. Recently, Howell blew a Rays’ lead, so I was once again worried. Howell was injured at the end of 2009 and has recently returned to the Rays, but he has not been dominant. IF I was Maddon, I would only put Howell in if 1) the Rays were up by 5 runs so in case Howell messed up, they would still win or 2) if Howell was to come out to get the final out in the 7th/8th with no runners on. Thus, if Howell succeeds, it will bring his confidence up; but if Howell failed, it would not cost the Rays game. At the moment, Howell has shown no reason to be the pitcher for the 8th inning in a close game. Today, Howell showed he should not be the pitcher in the 8th inning.
Howell was able to get the first out, but he walked and allowed a single. With 2 on and 1 out, Maddon should have taken Howell out (this is not hindsight, I was shouting at my TV for Maddon to take Howell out), but he left Howell in, even though he was having trouble finding the strike zone. Howell allows a single and leaves with the Rays tied at 6-6.
Then Maddon made one of the worst calls ever (maybe not ever, but it was super bad). Last night, Rays pitcher Joel Peralta replaced Jeremy Hellickson in the 8th inning (Rays were winning 3-0 at this time). Peralta allowed pinch-hitter Miguel Olivo to hit a 2-run homerun, cutting the Rays’ lead to 3-2. TODAY, Maddon replaced Howell with Peralta with Olivo batting! It was déjà vu – Olivo hit a 3-run homerun and the Mariners won a few minutes later.
Maddon is supposed to be a stat-coach, yet he didn’t realize that Peralta allowed a home run by Olivo yesterday? Maddon didn’t realize that Howell allowed 4 runs (3 unearned) and retired 0 batters in the 8th inning against the Cleveland Indians about a week ago? I appreciate all that Howell did in 2009 with the Rays, but he does not deserved to pitch in a stressful situtation. Howell needs to build his confidence up again before he (if he can) return to his old form.
Though the Rays’ offense was great, Rays’ pitching was horrible and mismanaged. With the Rays now tied with the Toronto Blue Jays with being 4 games out of 1st in the A.L East, they better start winning games and series again soon before they fall too far behind.