Bad teams leave runners on base. Bad teams let games slip away. Bad teams continue to lose.
Good teams? They get hits with two outs and two strikes. They pull games out. Good teams continue to win.
And so the Tampa Bay Rays lost another game Monday, taking over last place in the American League with a 7-5 loss to the Toronto Blue Jays (coupled with Minnesota’s 3-1 victory over Houston). The Rays are now 45-66 on the season, ahead of only Atlanta of the National League in the majors.
Tampa Bay came back from deficits of 2-0 and 4-2 to tie the game, but the seventh inning made the difference in the game. In the top of the inning, the Rays had runners on second and third with no one out and the meat of their order coming up. But Evan Longoria struck out. Brad Miller flew out to right, but the runner was not sent. And Mikie Mahtook flew out to center.
In the bottom of the inning, the Rays walked the bases loaded. Still, they almost got out of the inning when Melvin Upton struck out. Justin Smoak then grounded to the pitcher, but as Bobby Wilson made the tag at home and prepared to throw to first, he was clipped and unable to make the throw. Devon Travis then drove an 0-2 pitch up the middle. Jose Bautista then doubled in two more runs.
“We’ve talked about it too many times,” said manager Kevin Cash. We’ve got to get the run in and we didn’t.”
Travis was four-for-five to lead the Blue Jays. Logan Forsythe was three for four for the Rays.
The teams play again tonight as Drew Smyly faces Marco Estrada.