Walk Even Longoria to load the bases and pitch to the kid? Sure.
Then Myers went deep in a are-you-kidding-me kind of way and Rays manager Joe Maddon began slotting his bullpen to get the required number of outs to finish the job.
But, as Maddon has said way too often this season, “It just didn’t want to work out.”
Joel Peralta and Jake McGee struggled in the seventh, Vernon Wells cleared the bases with a pinch-hit double and the Rays lost 7-5 to drop their record on this road trip to 2-4.
It was the 11th time this season the Rays blew a lead in the seventh inning or later, and the ninth it led to a loss. They blew only 10 leads in the seventh inning or later in 2012 with nine resulting in losses.
The Rays are 10-14 in games decided in the seventh inning or later, including 3-12 against the AL East.
It’s been a while since the Rays suffered a loss like this, but the feeling was all too familiar.
“There’s been a lot of them. Way too many,” Maddon said. “That’s the difference between us really being one of the elite right now and not. We’ve just permitted too many late games get away from us.”
Oh, and the loss dropped the Rays into a last-place tie with red-hot Toronto in the American League East.
“Only one place to go,” Maddon said.
The Rays handled CC Sabathia as they often had since Sabathia joined the Yankees in 2009, hanging with the left-hander until they could take the lead with a big inning.
Alex Colome, making only his second big-league start, walked five, including one with the bases loaded. None of the three runs he allowed were earned, so his ERA remains at 0.00.
Alex Torres came on in the fifth with the bases loaded and one out, and got the Rays out of the jam with two strikeouts.
“That’s my favorite play,” Maddon said. “Not the bases loaded, but Alex Torres is available.”
Sabathia, who allowed a home run to Longoria in the second inning, found himself in a bit of a jam in the sixth after he walked leadoff hitter Sam Fuld and allowed a double to Desmond Jennings. He struck out Sean Rodriguez and got Ben Zobrist to foul out to first base. But with Longoria batting .383 with six home runs against Sabathia, Yankees manager Joe Girardi called for the intentional walk so Sabathia could face Myers.
After falling behind 1-2, Myers lifted a fly ball to right-center field that bounced off the top of the wall and into the stands. Brett Gardner jumped for the ball but couldn’t make the catch.
“That was the first for me,” Myers said when asked if a team ever walked a batter to get to him. “But you know, it’s a pretty cool situation to be able to do that after the intentional walk.”
That put the Rays ahead 5-3.
Torres pitched one more perfect inning, then Maddon turned the seventh over to Peralta.
“I couldn’t find the strike zone,” Peralta said. “I don’t know. None of my pitches were working for me.”
Peralta faced four batters. He got one out, but sandwiched a double between two walks. McGee came on with the bases loaded. He struck out Jayson Nix but walked David Adams on a full count to force in a run.
“Definitely can’t walk somebody there,” McGee said. “I got to make him beat me.”
McGee was pitching to a tight strike zone but wouldn’t use that as an excuse.
“They were borderline pitches,” he said. “Sometimes you get them, sometimes you don’t. They didn’t go my way.”
Wells, who had just nine hits in his previous 87 at-bats, came up as a pinch-hitter and hit the second pitch he saw to deep right-center field. It bounced between Fuld and Jennings and was touched by a spectator.
The umpires ruled fan interference and allowed all three runners to score, and that was the basically the ball game.
“That’s been part of the gig this year,” Maddon said. “We’ve been within a pitch of getting out of a lot of moments and we haven’t made the pitch or something has happened. That’s the frustrating component, but you got to keep showing up, keep believing in the guys, because I do.”
The Rays walked nine batters Saturday and four of them scored, including the three in the seventh inning.
“The walks really kicked our butts,” Maddon said. “It was going very well after Myers showed his ‘Wil Power’ right there. That got us back on top, and I really felt good. Joel setting up at that part of the batting order was perfect. Of course Jake and then I was going to go to Fernando (Rodney). It just didn’t want to work out.”
Tampa Bay Rays
Rays waste Myers' grand slam, lose to Yankees