ST. PETERSBURG — Willy Adames was so excited to be in the big leagues, even if was for just a three-day cameo callup. So thrilled to make a smashing debut with a homer on Tuesday. So proud to have his parents and sister fly in from the Dominican Republic to see his second game, plus to get to face David Price, whom he was traded for in July 2014. So eager for the whole experience.
And by the end of the night Wednesday, so aware of how a small error at this level can have a large consequence.
The shortstop's bounced throw on a fairly routine J.D. Martinez grounder to open the ninth sparked a rally that led to three runs and another Rays defeat to the rival Red Sox, 4-1.
"It's my fault, bottom line. Making an error. It was a tough night for me, making that error and getting the L for the team,'' Adames said. "As soon as you make an error, especially in that inning, it's going to be some trouble. I've got to take the responsibility as a man to make the routine play. At this level, you can't miss the routine play."
As in most of the nine games the Rays have now lost to the Red Sox, a good effort still ended badly.
Chris Archer matched up terrifically with former Rays ace Price, student versus mentor, for six innings, getting out of the one big mess he made with only one run. "I threw well but not well enough,'' Archer said. "Our margin for error is very small.''
The Rays played some good defense, including Adames making a strong relay from centerfielder Johnny Field to catcher Jesus Sucre to nail Eduardo Nunez at the plate in the fifth.
And they got a clutch hit off Price, C.J. Cron doubling off the centerfield wall to score Denard Span after a leadoff walk in the sixth.
But, once again, the Rays (22-25) came up short.
Adames' error in the ninth allowed Martinez to second, and the Sox quickly cashed in as Xander Bogaerts doubled to left. A walk, a wild pitch by Alex Colome, a sac fly and a passed ball on a pitch Sucre should have blocked led to two more runs.
Adames, who went 0-for-4 on the night and is 1-for-8 with six strikeouts, said he didn't get a good grip on the ball. Manager Kevin Cash said he might have rushed the throw a bit.
Neither was concerned there would be any carryover as Adames plays his final game today before heading back to Triple-A with Joey Wendle's return from the paternity list.
"Whether it's A-ball, Double A, Triple A and now the big leagues, he carries himself so well,'' Cash said. "I'm sure he's frustrated, but he'll move past it. … And he'll be right back out there making plays for us (Thursday).''
Adames had many reasons to be excited, especially the first matchup with Price, the star attraction in the July 2014 five-player trade that brought Adames to the Rays from the Tigers.
"It's going to be a special moment,'' Adames said before the game. "I've been waiting for this moment since I got traded.''
When the Rays traded Price, as they do so many of their stars, they got back three players.
Lefty starter Drew Smyly, who would pitch three seasons for the Rays, going 15-15, 3.95 while dealing with injury issues before being dealt after the 2016 season, and continuing the trade tree by bringing the Rays outfielder Mallex Smith and lefty Ryan Yarbrough.
Infielder Nick Franklin, who filled a variety of roles (including offseason Uber driver) but none particularly well in three seasons, and was placed on waivers after spring training 2017 as the Rays opted to keep Daniel Robertson.
And Adames, then an 18-year-old infielder playing in low Class A ball, and now, more than any other of their talented young players, is the embodiment of the future the Rays insist is bright.
At the time, nobody was sure how it would turn out.
The Rays felt good about who they were getting, or as good as a team could for a player that young at the low end of the minors. The Tigers had a better sense of what they were giving up.
"He was a young guy that we knew, we felt was going to be a big-league player, but that was the price if we were going to get David Price,'' said David Dombrowksi, who was the Tigers GM then and, in one of those odd baseball moments, now runs the Red Sox and was at the Trop this week.
"I remember of all the young players we traded there in Detroit, he was the one guy probably that stood out that we didn't want to trade.''
The Rays were sure glad they did.