Errors unravel Rays in loss to Angels
Jackson's strong outing soured by untimely miscues
ANAHEIM -- If one did the math, the Rays weren't supposed to win Wednesday night's game against the Angels. And they didn't, taking a 9-1 loss in front of 36,853 at Angel Stadium.The tough part to swallow came in how it happened. Flash back to Tuesday night. The Rays finished their two-game sweep of the Yankees then boarded an airplane to the West Coast. Sometime around 2 a.m. PT on Wednesday morning, the Rays' charter touched down at Ontario International Airport. After spending another hour on a bus, the team tucked itself in to bed. And on top of a brutal trip west, the Rays were coming off an emotional high from sweeping the Yankees. Add it all up -- tired and emotionally spent aren't a good combination. Only nobody told Rays starter Edwin Jackson the Rays weren't supposed to win. Jackson cruised in the early going like he owned the Angels. Through four innings, the right-hander allowed no runs and just two baserunners on a single and a walk while striking out four -- he struck out the side in the third. Unfortunately for Jackson and the Rays, errors can derail even the best of pitchers. Jackson withstood the first error of the fifth inning, but the second error was one too many. Everything in the Rays' universe felt like seashells and balloons when Casey Kotchman grounded toward first to lead off the fifth, Jackson's good vibe seemed to be intact. But Carlos Pena booted the chance. Shea Hillenbrand followed with an infield single before Jackson bowed his neck and got back to work by retiring the next two hitters on flyouts to left field to bring Erick Aybar to the plate. Jackson appeared to have escaped the jam when Aybar grounded to B.J. Upton at second. Upton slipped, glanced at second then threw wild to first, allowing the Angels' first run to score. "I was looking to go to second, but I didn't see [shortstop] Brendan [Harris] there initially," Upton said. "My first reaction was to try and make the play at first. I think I had a little more time than I thought I did. Maybe I rushed it a little bit. The throw got away from me." The extra chances afforded Gary Matthews Jr. an opportunity to hit, and he made the most of it by stroking a two-run double to center field. "That's the way the ball rolls sometimes," Jackson said. "Tonight is one of those nights it didn't roll in my favor. ... Once the ball leaves your hand, you don't have any control of it. All you can do is go out and battle." Maddon talked to Jackson after he left the game to tell him how well he had pitched. "E.J. pitched well enough to win," Maddon said. "He was aggressive in the zone, used all of his pitches." The Rays mounted a comeback in the sixth when Carl Crawford singled to lead off the inning, stole his fifth base of the season and scored on Delmon Young's single. Angels right-hander John Lackey appeared to be running on fumes when Pena added a single and Elijah Dukes worked a walk to load the bases with one out. But Lackey found an extra gear to retire Dioner Navarro on a popout to shortstop before striking out Upton to end the threat. "Things at the plate, I mean, they're going to happen like that," Upton said. "But defensively, I think that one play, definitely in that situation, with him throwing to get even, when you battle to get two outs -- I should have made that play." The Angels finished off the Rays in the seventh by pounding out five hits and six runs -- thanks in part to the Rays' third error of the game, a dropped popup by Harris -- to take a commanding 9-1 lead. "You can't fault the relievers or anybody," Maddon said. "We just didn't make the plays tonight." Pena waxed philosophically about the snowball effect that took place in Wednesday night's game. "It's a difficult thing, but it's one of those things you have to deal with in baseball," Pena said. "You know how rallies are. Rallies get started sometimes after a mistake. Teams start rallying after that. ... We gave it a shot, but we just couldn't execute. That's why we got beat tonight. Our challenge now is to put this behind us with renewed confidence like nothing happened."
Bill Chastain is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.