On a night when starting pitcher Matt Moore wasn’t his sharpest but pitched well enough to win, a night when home run heroics from Evan Longoria and Matt Joyce weren’t enough, it was a free base that spelled disaster (insert obligatory Josh Hamilton joke).
“It’s not where it needs to be yet," manager Joe Maddon said of Moore's performance. "I think he tried to attack the strike zone, he’s just not able to throw it where he wants to quite yet."
The Rays showed shades of their dismal 2011 start with no life in the lumber, managing just a single hit through the first four frames; Moore had yielded a pair of runs in that span. Then Joyce hit a long foul ball deep to right field in the fifth inning. Learning his lesson, he kept the next pitch well fair to cut Minnesota’s lead in half with his fourth homer of the year.
Tampa Bay took the lead in the sixth, with Sean Rodriguez and Desmond Jennings each getting aboard with base hits. Ben Zobrist walked to load the bags for Carlos Pena. Apparently he wasn’t due for another grand slam, because he grounded into a 4-6-3 double play; Rodriguez scored the tying run on the play. Longoria’s two-run shot to left gave them a 4-2 lead they’d take into the seventh.
Alexi Casilla reached with a base hit and chased Moore from the game. Brandon Gomes let Denard Span on base with a single. Cue the walk to Carroll, from a 1-2 count to a free base. Fans said goodbye to Gomes and the Rays said goodbye to the lead when, one out later, Joel Peralta gave up a double to Josh Willingham that scored all three baserunners and provided the winning margin.
"They just beat us tonight," Maddon said. "They got the hits they needed, we did not, and they won. We just have to move on.”
The Rays will look to move on tomorrow night against the Twins. Rays righty James "Big Game" Shields takes the hill against Minnesota's Carl "He's only 36?" Pavano at 7:10 p.m.