Another tantalizing loss
Rays are frustrated again, losing an early lead and then a one-run game.
By MARC TOPKIN, Times Staff Writer
© St. Petersburg Times
published July 7, 2002
ANAHEIM, Calif. -- Close may not count, but the Rays can only hope that it has some future benefit to their core of young players.
Rookie Rays pitcher Jorge Sosa hangs his head after a Tim Salmon two-run home run in the first inning, but Sosa had an impressive start.
Because it sure hasn't been any fun lately.
The Rays lost to Anaheim 6-5 in 10 innings on Friday in a maddening way that wasn't much different from how they lost to Texas on Thursday or the way they have lost several other times this season.
They built an early lead, 3-0 by the fifth. They let it slip away, trailing 5-3 after seven. They tied it in the eighth but could have had more. And they lost it at the end.
"It's been real frustrating," pitcher Joe Kennedy said. "We've been in a lot of games. But everybody says the good teams win the close ballgames, and that's the one thing we have to overcome. We're all up here learning how to play this game, and this is going to help us in the long run.
"We just have to take our bumps and take our bruises and hopefully maybe later this year or maybe next year we'll be able to pull these games out instead of losing them."
The Rays lost Friday when the Angels loaded the bases with one out in the 10th off Esteban Yan and David Eckstein hit a slow broken-bat grounder that third baseman Jared Sandberg couldn't field.
A leadoff double by Scott Spiezio that Ben Grieve couldn't run down, a bloop single by Orlando Palmeiro and a walk to Jorge Fabregas set up Eckstein, the former Florida Gator who has three grand slams this season.
Kennedy, less than sharp for the second time in front of his hometown friends and family, was disappointed about letting the Angels back into the game.
But a case could be made that the Rays lost because of their offensive inefficiency, converting 19 baserunners (15 hits, three walks and a hit batter) into only five runs. They left eight in scoring position, including two in the eighth after they tied the score, and one each in the ninth and 10th.
"It's really difficult right now," second baseman Brent Abernathy said. "A week or so ago it seemed we were winning the close games. Now we keep coming up short at the end."
The loss was the 20th in 33 games that have been decided from the seventh on, and the 26th in 43 games that have been decided by one or two runs.
"We've just got to keep battling and keep doing the things that we've been doing other than lose the ballgames," manager Hal McRae said. "The guys have been battling and we've just go to keep our heads up."
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