tampabay.com

Rays crumble from Jackson's start to finish

Tampa Bay begins a new month the way it played much of April.

By EDUARDO A. ENCINA
Published May 2, 2007


ST. PETERSBURG --Devil Rays pitcher Edwin Jackson wanted the opportunity to undo the wrongs, but manager Joe Maddon had seen enough.

The Rays, Jackson included, had made enough mistakes to face a second-inning six-run deficit Tuesday night against the opportunistic Twins at Tropicana Field.

The Twins had already manufactured two runs off Jackson in the first inning, then took advantage of two walks, two errors and three hits -- despite having only one ball that left the infield -- as part of a four-run second in the Rays' 9-1 loss in front of 8, 773, the smallest crowd at the Trop this season.

Jackson, having thrown 49 pitches in allowing eight of the 12 batters he faced to reach base, said he still felt strong. When he saw Maddon step out of the dugout, Jackson didn't hide his disappointment and failed to make eye contact as he left. The 1 1/3-inning outing was the shortest of Jackson's career.

"He caught me by surprise, " Jackson said. "I was ready for the next batter. If he felt things weren't getting better, then I'm sure that's why he did what he did. He's the manager. Whether I like something or not, I can't do anything about it."

Said Maddon: "I didn't get that (impression). I just didn't see it getting better at that point. We had to get out of the inning right there."

Seven pitchers allowed a Rays season-high 17 hits, walked five and hit two batters, but early mistakes by the Rays were more to blame for this loss.

It all began to unravel in the second. Trailing 2-0, Jackson walked the first two hitters, Torii Hunter and Jason Kubel.

The next batter, Jason Tyner, bunted in front of the mound.

The 23-year-old Jackson fielded it, looked to first, but second baseman B.J. Upton failed to cover the bag. He then looked to third where Hunter had overrun the base. But Jackson fired the ball over third baseman Ty Wigginton and into the Twins bullpen down the third-base line, allowing two runs to score and putting Tyner on third.

A groundout by shortstop Jason Bartlett scored Tyner and Joe Mauer's single to center scored Luis Castillo, who reached on a single and moved to second on Upton's fielding error, chasing Jackson.

"We did several things wrong, " Maddon said. "You can't do that and when you do that early, it sets the tone for the entire game. You just lose the mental edge when a game flows that badly. It's our fault, our mistakes. We need to get rid of them."

The Rays had plenty of warning-track flyouts off Twins starter Sidney Ponson, but the only Tampa Bay run came on Delmon Young's second-inning home run. Ponson, who entered Tuesday with an 8.44 ERA, allowed just five hits and one run, both season lows, in a season-high seven innings. Both of his wins have come against the Rays.

Jackson allowed an infield single to Castillo and a Nick Punto double to lead off the game. Castillo scored on Mauer's groundout to second and Punto on Michael Cuddyer's sacrifice fly.

"I just didn't get the job done, " Jackson said. "It's just another one of those games. Some things didn't come but way, but you've got to be aggressive and keep throwing."