The Tampa Bay Rays are wrapping up an eight game road trip in Los Angeles where they have been the last six days playing three against the Angels and now wrapping up their visit with two in Chavez Ravine against the Dodgers.
The Dodgers are one of the best teams in baseball and the best team in the National League.
Things started great for the Rays on Tuesday night as Blake Snell pitched well in his two innings, and the Rays had a 1-0 lead going into the bottom of the fifth inning. Then Kevin Cash turned things over to Colin Poche after Oliver Drake had pitched two scoreless innings and Poche promptly gave up a two run homer to Max Muncy to put the Dodgers up 2-1.
Blake Snell seeing his first action for the Rays in 50 days looked sharp pitching two shoutout innings while striking out four.
The Rays tied it up at two apiece in the sixth inning as Ji-Man Choi hit his 16th homer of the season to get the Rays back in the game.
Rookie Pete Fairbanks came in to face the Dodgers in the top of the 7th and gave up five runs as the Dodgers took an insurmountable 7-2 lead.
The Rays did rally in the top of the eighth on an RBI single by Travis D’Arnaud and a two run homer by Jesus Aguilar to cut the Dodger lead to 7-5, but it wasn’t enough.
The Rays now find themselves perilously close to falling out of a wild card spot with ten games to play. With Oakland and Cleveland winning Tuesday night, the Rays trail the A’s by two in the Wildcard lead, and have just a half game lead on Cleveland for the second wild card spot.
As has been the case so many times this season, The young guys in the bullpen could not keep the Rays in the game.
Pete Fairbanks has been a huge disappointment going 1-3 with an 8.44 ERA in his short time with the Rays.
It looks as if the rookie Colin Poche is starting to wear down and is starting to feel the effects of a long season. After pitching in the three games in Texas over the weekend, Poche was summoned in the fifth inning last night at Dodger stadium and couldn’t hold the lead .
Poche is 4-5 on the season and his ERA has ballooned to 5.28.
These are the kind of games the Rays are going to be playing in if they should make the playoffs as a wildcard team, and you have to have confidence in the guys you are sending out there to close the door and shut the other team down.
Cash will say he has all the confidence in the world, but behind closed doors it may be another matter. Can you trust Colin Poche, Chaz Roe, Andrew Kitteredge, or Jalen Beeks to come in and get some key outs when you need them in a playoff game?
The answer is a resounding no. Inconsistency has plagued this bullpen and you would hate to waste a good outing by Morton, Yarbrough or Glasnow because your bullpen can’t hold the lead.
The Rays will have some tough games to end the season as the Red Sox and Yankees will come to Tampa to finish the Rays home portion of the schedule.
These will not be easy games to win, and the Rays margin for error is very slim. Some of the Rays seem not to be very concerned about the loss, chalking it up to just another day at the ball park.
Tommy Pham summed it up best “We’ve got to win, I’ve been saying it all month – we’ve got to focus on the right now.”
If only more of the Rays had this mindset and sense of urgency.