Honestly, I am not at all surprised that we are no longer at .500. We were either going to go above or below it yesterday, and naturally we had to go below. So the month of May is almost over and we still have not been even one game above .500 all year. Surprising? I think not. Dysfunctional? I think so.
Let’s get it over with. Lester pitched horribly. He threw eighty-one pitches and took a well-deserved loss. His changeups and curveballs were alright; his fastball was decent, although you could tell that it was flat and he wasn’t able to give it the usual bite. His sinker was terrible.
He gave up seven runs on six hits in only four innings. He walked three, struck out four, and allowed three home runs. The first was a grand slam in the third with two out. So not only did we have to suffer the indignity of having a grand slam hit against us, but we also had to suffer the added indignity of having that grand slam be the product of two walks, which contributed to loading the bases. Furthermore, the next two home runs were consecutive in the very next inning, the first a two-runner and the second a solo shot. So he pitched for four innings, but it only took him half that to give up a game’s worth of runs.
To the bullpen’s credit, the rest of the game proceeded without further damage. Atchison, Albers, and Morales were on duty today; Atchison pitched three innings, and Albers and Morales each pitched one inning. None of them gave up any runs. So I’m thinking that maybe the bullpen should have started the game instead of our supposed ace.
So while the Rays were busy taking batting practice, our hitters were busy playing long ball, and not in an admirable, dirt-dog way. Papi walked and scored on a single by Youk in the first, a play that supplied us with a one-run lead, a cruel joke considering that the next scoring play was the previously mentioned grand slam, and the next scoring plays after that were the two consecutive home runs. After that, we did what I can only assume was our best to dig ourselves out of the hole. In the fifth, Podsednik singled and scored on a double by Gonzalez. And in the sixth, Salty and Nava worked back-to-back walks; Salty scored on a single by Byrd, and Nava scored on a sac fly by Aviles.
So neither team scored after the sixth inning, and we lost, 7-4. The Rays posted twice as many hits and three times as many extra-base hits as we did. While we had no multi-hit games, they had three. Somehow, both teams featured five batters who didn’t collect a hit, and we did walk one more time than they did. And each team made an error.
But at least you can tell that the team is frustrated. The benches cleared, which is always a sign that tensions are high to begin with. What happened was that, with two out in the ninth, Morales was pitching to Luke Scott and obviously trying to hit him. Morales threw behind Scott on a 1-2 count and then hit him in the knee, so he started mouthing off and walking towards the mound but was blocked by Salty. Then everyone, even the guys in the bullpens, came on the field for what actually ended up being a rather peaceful exchange, I mean for your usual bench-clearing. Nobody was ejected, and towards the end of it, it seemed like the coaches were more invested in the whole thing than the players. And when a whole scenario like that happens, you just know that the team is angry.