This was set up for a glorious win by the Rays. Ailing Dirtbag comes off the bench to pinch-hit Matt Joyce home to cap a three-run eighth for a 6-5 lead. Six outs by the solid bullpen seemed a pretty solid bet.
But with one out in the eighth and Jack Wilson at first, Merlot Joe decides to use a Ted Williams shift on Jack Cust leaving the left side of the infield open. Wide open. Naturally, Cust fights off a J.P. Howell offspeed pitch and hits the ball to the left side of the field.
What likely would have been an inning-ending double play instead opens the floodgates. Rather than leaving Howell in the game, Merlot Joe, likely bored, decides to bring in Joel Peralta, who has had a nasty habit of late of giving up the long ball.
BOOM! Miguel Olivo, thinking he is Tony Oliva, belts his third homer of the series and the game is over.
This is what some folks would call “overmanaging.”
Merlot Joe’s maddening (Maddoning?) mixing and maxing has more often than not worked this year, but when it blows up it really blows up and this was a baseball version of Dresden.
Well, at least Derek Shelton’s forces came to play for a change. Speaking of Shelton, Hat tip to Kelly Shoppach who drilled an 0-2 mistake by Erik Bedard for his first double of the season (ouch) and put the Rays on the board.
In what nearly brought Joe to a complete vomit, before that at bat, the Rays radio team relayed a chat with Shelton, in which Shelton said he was baffled why Shoppach isn’t the same guy that hit 21 homers and .261 under Shelton’s tutelage in Cleveland back in 2008. Well there you have it.
And there you have a nauseating loss that should have been a fantastic win.