Tampa Bay Rays left-hander Erik Bedard may have beat the Indians for the first time in eight years Saturday, but veteran outfielder David Murphy has learned over the years that games like the 7-1 defeat aren’t worth getting all torn up over.
“I think the key for us right now is when we play well, we need to win those games,” said Murphy after going 0-for-3, as the Indians matched their season low of three hits. “Games like tonight, I don’t think I’ll lose any sleep over. But until we get to the point where we’re playing extremely well and everyone’s hitting on all cylinders, we just need to do the little things well and close out our chances when we do have chances to win.”
Saturday night’s game at Tropicana Field wasn’t one of them, as the Rays (16-21) snapped their season-high tying losing streak while halting the Indians (17-20) four-game winning streak.
For starters, Bedard (2-1, 3.38 ERA) limited the Tribe’s offense to a lone hit and stuck out four over six-innings.
“He mixed and matched to the point of not just in his speeds, but in his delivery,” Indians manager Terry Francona said. “He’d slide-step for effect with the hitters, not just for the runner. He mixed and matched angles and speeds and there were a lot of lazy fly balls – kind of exactly what he wants you to do.”
Then unlike Friday night when the Indians were able to wait out the Rays starter to mount a comeback against the bullpen, Tampa Bay’s right-hander Juan Carlos Oviedo followed Bedard with two scoreless innings of his own.
The Indians offense didn’t even mount its first serious attack of the night until the ninth inning, when they loaded the bases with no outs against Rays closer Grant Balfour, who came on to pitch the ninth to get some work. But the punch less Indians attack still mustered only a Ryan Raburn sacrifice fly that merely broke up the Rays shutout bid.
Also working against the Indians Saturday was the their streak of solid performances from the team’s starting pitchers came to a screeching halt. In a 4 1/3-inning dud, right-hander Zach McAllister dished up five runs on eight hits as he struggled with limited use of his off speed pitches.
“From the very first inning, he was working from behind,” Francona said. “At some point it kinds catches up. Saying that, they weren’t all over him, there were some well-placed hits…but he threw just a couple off-speed (pitches), there wasn’t a lot to get them off his fastball, so he had to really locate.”
McAllister felt the Rays beat him more at his game of simply being aggressive in the strike zone.
“I felt good overall, I just left some balls up in the middle and fell behind a few guys,” said McAllister, who dropped to 3-3 with a 3.89 ERA with the loss. “They were putting some pretty good swings on it, put some guys on base and then were aggressive on the base paths.”
Right-handed reliever C.C. Lee slowed the Rays’ bats down for 1 2/3 innings - including three strikeouts - in relief of McAllister. But lefty Josh Outman couldn’t continue the trend, allowing a pair of runs in just a 1/3 of an inning as the Rays pushed their lead to seven unanswered runs.
By the time former starter-turned-reliever Carlos Carrasco came on and cleaned up for the Indians with 1 2/3 hitless relief, the damage had already been done.
Earlier in the game, McAllister breezed through the first two innings before starting to show a crack in the armour in the third inning.Desmond Jennings led off with a single and later scored on David DeJesus’ two-out single before McAllister coaxed Ben Zobrist to fly out to limit the damage.
But the Indians missed a good opportunity to even the score in the next inning. Nick Swisher and Michael Brantley led off with back-to-back walks, but Bedard rebounded to retire the Tribe’s next three batters to get out of the jam unscathed and cruised the rest of the way.
Meanwhile, the Rays hitters got back to business against McAllister in the bottom half of the inning, tagging him for two runs off three hits and a walk to push the host’s lead to three unanswered runs. But two more runs in fifth ended McAllister’s night early as the Rays piled on and increased the deficit.