The Tampa Bay Rays suffered another one run loss on Monday night, this one in Houston by the score of 5-4 to the Astros. Third baseman Alex Bregman hit a game-winning two run double with one out in the ninth inning, helping Houston win their twelfth straight. Meanwhile the Rays fell to 10-19 in one run games this season.
With Houston starting Gerrit Cole, who came into the game 4-0 in his previous 6 starts & Tampa Bay starting their opener Ryan Stanek, it would seem like the Rays would have their hands full in ending the Astros 11 game-winning streak. But it was Cole who struggled early, giving up a two run home run to Rays catcher Wilson Ramos in the first. Then after throwing 18 pitches in the second, Cole couldn’t find the strike zone in third inning. The Astros pitcher got the leadoff batter out but walked the next three batters. And after striking out Rays designated hitter C.J. Cron, he gave up a two run single to second baseman Joey Wendle, with the second run scoring when first baseman Jake Bauers was able to slide in safely, avoiding the tag of Astros catcher Brian McCann.
Meanwhile Stanek, who was making his sixth start of the year, threw just 11 pitches to retire all five batters he faced & was replaced by reliever Jonny Venters. And Venters had similar success, getting the last out in the second inning. Venters did allow a hit in the third but he struck out two batters & was replaced with two outs in the third by pitcher Matt Andriese.
Trailing 4-0 & with Andriese on the mound, the Astros cut the lead in half in the bottom of the fourth. Second baseman Jose Altuve, who had three hits, beat out an infield hit & took third after shortstop Carlos Correa doubled to centerfield. And with two men on, Astros first baseman Yuli Gurriel hit the first of his two RBI singles, this one an infield single. That hit was followed by an RBI sacrifice fly by right fielder Josh Reddick.
The score remained 4-2 until the sixth inning when Gurriell got the second of his RBI singles. The inning started when Andriese gave up a leadoff double, which was misplayed by leftfielder Johnny Field, allowing Altuve to take third & score on Gurriel’s single to left-center.
After scoring four runs in the first three innings, the Rays didn’t get a runner to second base the next four innings. And that was mainly because after throwing 67 pitches in the first three innings, Cole settled down, getting through the next four innings by throwing just 49 pitches. At one point, he retired 11 straight batters, with a walk to Rays right fielder Carlos Gomez being the only baserunner he allowed in his final four innings.
Leading 4-3 in the eighth, Tampa Bay had a chance to tack on an insurance run when Bauers led-off the inning with a double, but Houston reliever Will Harris got the next three Rays hitters out, striking out Cron & Wendle to end the threat.
Tampa Bay used seven pitchers & with relievers Diego Castillo & Chaz Roe handling the seventh & eighth innings, manager Kevin Cash gave the ball to Sergio Romo, hoping the Rays reliever would be able to close it out like he did on Sunday in New York against the Yankees. But when Romo walked Astros outfielder Marwin Gonzalez on four pitches, it was clear this appearance would go nothing like his previous appearance. Back-up catcher Max Stassi delivered a single off Romo, putting two runners on with none out. And after a sacrifice bunt to advance the runners, Ramos was called for catcher’s interference, loading the bases, setting up Bregman to deliver his game-winning hit.
Tampa Bay looks to rebound from the tough loss on Tuesday night when they send lefty Blake Snell (8-4 2.58) to the mound. Houston counters with righty Justin Verlander (9-2 1.61). Coverage begins on 620 WDAE with Steve Carney & The Inside Pitch at 7pm, followed by the first pitch at 8:10pm.