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Rays done in by a defensive debacle
Three errors by a tired club lead to six unearned runs.
By MARC TOPKIN
Published April 26, 2007
ANAHEIM, Calif. -- The Devil Rays had trouble staying up late Wednesday.
Having not arrived in their Southern California hotel rooms until around 3 a.m. local time and 6 on their body clocks, the Rays seemed to wear down as Wednesday night's game wore on, losing 9-1 to the Angels.
The Rays got a strong start from Edwin Jackson, who flew out ahead of the team and was well-rested, but some unfortunate bounces and bad plays quickly piled up.
"Total breakdown on defense," manager Joe Maddon said. "We can't make those mistakes."
The Rays (9-12) made three errors -- and several other misplays -- leading to six unearned runs and squandered several scoring opportunities. It got so bad, Ruddy Lugo pitched for the first time in 11 days, Jonny Gomes got to play the field and Jorge Cantu made his first appearance as a pinch-hitter.
The mistakes were a team effort. First baseman Carlos Pena misplayed a sharp bouncer. B.J. Upton threw a ball away on what could have been an inning-ending play, then later struck out with the bases loaded. Brendan Harris dropped an easy popup. Elijah Dukes misjudged a ball in center.
Jackson was impressive early, but some mistakes, mental and physical, led to three unearned runs in the fifth.
Pena got caught in between hops on Casey Kotchman's chopper, and an infield single caromed off Jackson.
He got the next two and looked to be out of trouble when Upton slid and gloved Erick Aybar's grounder up the middle. But Upton, who looked initially for the force at second but said he didn't see Harris covering, went for the out at first and, going against his own momentum, threw wildly past the bag. Kotchman scored, and two more did on Gary Matthews' double.
"I felt like I should have made that play," said Upton, who has made six errors. "It seemed like things started to go down after that. I don't know if it was fatigue or what, but we lost momentum."
The Rays got one back in the sixth but after they loaded the bases, Dioner Navarro popped out to second and Upton struck out.
The Angels got a few more fortunate bounces, and several key hits, in scoring six more in the seventh.
After two unfortunate infield singles, Aybar, after failing to get a bunt down, reached for an 0-and-2 pitch nearly in the dirt ("That ball may have bounced," Maddon said) and with one hand on the bat slapped a single by Pena. Harris then dropped a popup and the Angels were rolling.
The Rays were battling fatigue as well as the Angels, having flown for 4 1/2 hours to Ontario, Calif., and not getting to bed until after 3 local time.
"You're never going to feel good after making a flight like that," Crawford said. "I don't care what the situation is. But you've got to find a way to get up for the game and go out and play."
The Rays didn't make it easier on themselves by keeping Tuesday's Yankees game at night for the sake of better TV ratings and attendance (22,328).