Tampa Bay allows three runs in the seventh and five in the eighth as defense and pitching crumble.
By BRUCE LOWITT
© St. Petersburg Times, published August 24, 2000
MINNEAPOLIS -- Bryan Rekar made the right pitch.
Jose Guillen made the wrong move.
Rekar, shutting out the Twins for six innings, worked his way into a bases-loaded jam in the seventh, nearly worked out of it, then fed a low pitch to Cristian Guzman. He lined it to right. Guillen took a few quick steps in, froze, then tried to recover.
"I saw the ball pretty good," Guillen said. "It was a straight line drive. It just kept taking off. As soon as I tried to go back I said, "Oh, my God!' and it was over my head already."
Two runs scored, putting the Twins up 3-2 and chasing Rekar. In the eighth, they jumped on the bullpen and ran off with an 8-2 victory Wednesday night.
Until the seventh inning, Rekar was almost in complete control, allowing five hits.
"I thought he threw the ball well," manager Larry Rothschild said. "He carried us late into the game and still looked like he was throwing the ball really well."
The Rays led 2-0, one run coming on Guillen's homer, before consecutive singles by David Ortiz, Corey Koskie and Torii Hunter loaded the bases with nobody out in the seventh.
With Esteban Yan warming up in the Rays bullpen, Rekar struck out Jacque Jones. Midre Cummings batted for A.J. Pierzynski and drove in the Twins' first run with a grounder to Fred McGriff at first base. Guzman then drilled his line drive to right.
"In a dome, it's a tough play," Rothschild said. "I think he tried to read the ball. It was hard to pick up. Maybe if he goes back immediately (he can catch it), but I don't know too many outfielders that are going to be able to do that."
It was Rekar's 101st and last pitch. Jay Canizaro lined Yan's first pitch to Russ Johnson at third. He knocked it down and threw to first to end the inning.
The damage was done, but the Twins weren't.
Yan couldn't get an out in the eighth and Minnesota piled on five more runs, three on Danny Ardoin's double to left off Doug Creek.
"We had a shot to get out of that inning," Rothschild said. "Doug was ahead (in the count), then made a mistake, left the ball right where he could hit it."
Said Creek: "He hit a good pitch. I thought I set him up right with the breaking ball. It looked like his bat speed was right there with the breaking ball. I tried to come inside and he got it. I guess I got too much of the plate."
Rekar is winless in his past five starts, 0-3 since his last win July 28 at Kansas City.
"I got away with some stuff and they got away with some," he said. "It's just that that one inning kind of snowballed."
He said he thought he was out of it on the ball Guzman hit. "The pitch wasn't exactly where I wanted it. Jose's a good outfielder, but this place is kind of hard to judge balls, I know that."
The Rays are 1-7 in Rekar's past eight starts and have scored 16 runs in the losses. He is 1-2 against the Twins. The win came here June 19, 1999. His other loss was in a complete game Aug. 7 at Tropicana Field when the Twins won 4-2.
Guillen put the Rays on the scoreboard in a hurry in the second inning, hitting the first pitch to him 404 feet into the folded seats above the jumbo baggie in right-centerfield for his ninth home run.
Rekar was touched for a one-out single by Ortiz in the second, but grounders by Koskie and Hunter ended that threat.
An exceptional play by Jason Tyner preserved the Rays' 1-0 lead in the fourth. Ron Coomer hit the ball sharply toward the leftfield corner, where Tyner backhanded the ball, wheeled and fired a one-bounce strike to second baseman Bobby Smith, who tagged Coomer as he tried to slide around his glove.
The Rays made it 2-0 in the sixth, starting with Johnson's two-out single. Greg Vaughn's walk moved him to second and he came around on McGriff's single to right.