Tampa Bay Rays
Rays sloppy again, drop another series
MINNEAPOLIS - It was the sort of game after which former Rays manager Lou Piniella would have been throwing things. In fact, all that was missing in the Rays' 8-3 loss to the Twins on Wednesday night were the old green uniforms and the Devil in the nickname. Scott Kazmir, getting little help from his defense, allowed eight runs (six earned, and two on wild pitches) in four innings, and the Rays (8-14) dropped a sixth consecutive series heading home to play the red-hot Red Sox. The post-game tirade isn't Maddon's style. Ever the optimist, he was calm and composed in the tunnel outside his team's clubhouse and only mildly critical of the effort."We're not really pleased with what's going on," he said. "We should have been able to win more than one series to this point. But it's early, and I'm very optimistic we're going to turn this around." In the first inning alone, Kazmir gave up a run on a bases-loaded wild pitch, second baseman Akinori Iwamura and right fielder Ben Zobrist allowed a run when a pop fly fell between them, and ex-Ray Delmon Young helped get a run home on a strikeout. That happened when Young swung at a Kazmir slider that wound up in the dirt, and catcher Dioner Navarro couldn't handle what was ruled a wild pitch, giving Jason Kubel just enough time to score from third. Kazmir thought he tagged Kubel out after taking a toss from Navarro, but home plate umpire Bruce Dreckman called the runner safe. "I didn't know whether to go and cover home or give Navi room to take it himself," Kazmir said of his slight hesitation. "I just got kind of torn in between on a bang-bang play." And then there was the Twins' three-run fourth inning during which Iwamura, who didn't commit an error in his first 74 games last year, was charged with two on one play. His fielding and throwing errors on a Kubel grounder let Justin Morneau score from second. Before the double-error, Kazmir gave up a one-out triple to Tampa's Denard Span, an RBI single to Brendan Harris and an RBI double to Morneau in succession. When the flat-looking Rays headed to their dugout, the Twins led 8-1. "This one hurt," Kazmir (3-2) said after seeing his ERA climb to 5.40 on a night in which he was trying to tie a club record for most wins in April. "My mechanics felt good from the beginning. But [the first] ended up being a long inning, and it took a little out of me. I just tried to battle out there and minimize the damage as much as I could. But it just didn't happen." About the pop fly (from Kubel) that fell between Iwamura and Zobrist, Maddon said Zobrist said he heard Iwamura call for the ball and then got out of the way. "Not a routine play by any means, but it could have been caught," Maddon said. The Rays managed single runs in the third, seventh and ninth innings. Evan Longoria drove in runs with ground outs in the third and ninth, but he grounded out to end the eighth with the bases loaded. Gabe Gross drove in a run with a single in the seventh. Shortstop Jason Bartlett, the Rays' leading hitter with a .368 average, came out of the game in the fifth inning with left hamstring tightness. Maddon indicated the move was more about getting him some much-needed rest.