Don’t bury the Rays just yet.
Perhaps the Zim Bear giveaway fired up the troops, maybe they just get up for big games — like when they’re facing a Justin Verlander — or, more than likely, the Rays might have just reached a point where they had had enough and finally decided to fire back. And fire back they did in an emotional 4-2 win over the Tigers on Friday at Tropicana Field with 19,557 watching.
“We looked more normal,” Rays manager Joe Maddon said. “More like how we’re supposed to look. I think the energy level was better. Why? I have no idea why. It was just a matter of getting over that weekend at Bernie’s in Kansas City and Philadelphia, it just got better. It was just a matter of time. We have great professionals right here. It’s not always going to be an oil painting, but I really liked the way we went after it tonight.”
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Failed opportunities sank the Rays in a 7-2 loss to the Tigers on Thursday afternoon in the rubber game of a three-game set at Comerica Park with 30,288 watching.
With their first series loss of the season, the Rays moved to 4-2 overall and 1-2 on the current road trip, with stops in Boston and Toronto on the horizon.
Thursday’s tell-tale statistic came in the two team’s successes with runners in scoring position. Tigers hitters came through when they needed to, going 3-for-7 in the clutch, whereas the Rays squandered early opportunities to build a lead and went 2-for-13 in those situations.
“It’s definitely one of those energy shifts when we have something going and it gets shut down,” Carlos Pena said. “[It] shifts the energy in a different direction, and now we have to go get it again and bring it our way. So it definitely does something.
“I believe in energy momentum and things like that in baseball. So I’m very aware of it when it happens. Just like any other play. A big strikeout, a big hit, a big play gets momentum going on our side. Things like that get momentum going for the other team.”
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