Rays can’t overcome all the mistakes, lose to Rangers 10-9

The mistakes the Rays made in Wednesday's game began stacking up early, beginning with the decision to not start or make much use of Austin Pruitt, who was coming off a pair of solid outings.

They allowed seven runs by three pitchers in a 62-pitch first inning that took a ridiculous 55 minutes to complete overall.

They made four outs on the bases, including one by Johnny Davis, the speedster they'd just brought up to help boost their running game.

And after they, somehow, overcame all that to take a lead into the seventh, their most dependable, and pretty much untouchable, reliever, Nick Anderson, gave up a three-run homer.

The result was a frustrating 10-9 loss to the Rangers, halting the Rays season-high matching six-game winning streak and 11 of 12 run.

Worse, slicing their lead in the AL wild card race, as both Oakland and Cleveland won. That leaves the Rays 87-60 and with a half-game lead on the A's for the top spot, and the Indians just another half back, with 15 games to play.

The decisive runs came on Rougned Odor's homer off Anderson, who had faced 50 batters over 15 games since coming over July 31 from the Marlins and allowed only six to reach base and one to score, striking out 30.

Taking over after Colin Poche allowed two Rangers to reach after getting two outs, Anderson got ahead 1-and-2. But Odor fouled off three of the next four pitches, and then drove a 98 mph fastball over the rightfield wall.

Poche deserved some of the blame, allowing a two-out single to former Rays prospect Nick Solak and then a two-out walk.

The decision to use Andrew Kittredge as the opener seemed based on an opportunity to maximize the matchups for their pitching staff.

That went awry promptly, as they went through three of them to get those first three outs facing 12 batters in giving up those seven runs.

It was the only the fifth time in franchise history the Rays allowed seven or more runs in a first inning, though the second in just more than a year after going 11 years without.

Down 7-2 after the first, the Rays made it interesting, and even a bit promising.

They came back to tie it in the top of the second, with Ji-Man Choi's three-run homer the biggest blow in the five-run uprising.

And they took an 8-7 lead in the fourth when they loaded the bases with one out as Austin Meadows singled, Travis d'Arnaud was hit by a pitch and Choi walked, then Matt Duffy delivered a sac fly. (Choi homered again in the ninth, his 15th of the season.)

That put the Rays in position to make even more significant history, as the first team in the majors since the 2006 Indians to win a game after allowing seven or more runs in the first.

Manager Kevin Cash and staff made at least a curious if not a trying-to-be-too creative decision in setting up the pitching plan.

Wednesday was Pruitt's day to pitch in their always flexible version of a rotation, and he was coming off a pair of very impressive back to back starts, allowing one earned run over 10 1/3 innings against the Indians and Blue Jays.

But rather than start Pruitt, the Rays decided to go with an opener, and chose Kittredge. He had done it four times before with some success, though his overall numbers were trending the wrong way before a pair of perfect innings Friday.

Wednesday, Kittredge was perfect the other way, allowing singles to Shin-Soo Choo, Elvis Andrus and Willie Calhoun, which was enough for Cash.

And rather than go then to Pruitt, Cash opted for Beeks, seemingly a result of the Rangers having five lefties in lineup. Cash hinted before the game it might not be a standard opener/bulk-inning pitcher setup, saying, "We've got lots of options. We'll see where the game is."

That couldn't have worked out much worse.

Beeks faced eight batters, and it went like this: RBI single, bases-loading walk, two-run single, strikeout, bases loading walk, fielder's choice grounder (with a Matt Duffy error) scoring two, fielder's choice grounder, RBI single.

By the Pruitt came in to get the final out, the Rays were down 7-2. Pruitt ended up pitching effectively, allowing only one hit over the 3 1/3 innings he was allowed to work.

Pitching wasn't the only problem for the Rays, as they made four outs on the bases, including speedster Johnny Davis picked off first in his debut. Matt Duffy was caught off third, Guillermo Heredia picked off first and Choi caught by the catcher late getting back to second.