08/13/07 1:40 AM ET
Rays get upended in series finale
Hammel, Tampa Bay lineup struggle against Texas
By Ken Daley / Special to MLB.com
However, it didn't happen.Hammel (1-2) labored through 91 pitches on a sweltering night at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington, and he was unable to retire a hitter in the fifth inning. He gave up five runs on seven hits to help send the Rays spiraling toward a 9-1 loss to the Rangers before a crowd of 24,042. "His velocity was there, but the overall command was not there, with any of his pitches," Maddon said. "That got us in trouble." Texas seized a 7-0 lead by the fifth. Marlon Byrd singled home two runs in the third, Frank Catalanotto tripled home another in the fourth and the Rangers pushed four across in the fifth. Michael Young started that inning with his 100th career home run. Byrd doubled to chase Hammel, and Brad Wilkerson greeted reliever Jon Switzer with a run-scoring single. Jason Botts and David Murphy contributed RBI doubles before Switzer could end the inning. "If you're not locating your fastball, they're definitely not going to be looking for anything offspeed," said Hammel (1-2). "Overall, I've got to throw strikes. It's that simple. I can't keep doing the bullpen like that."
Jonny Gomes' two-out RBI single in the eighth ended the Rangers' shutout bid and made the score 7-1. But Ian Kinsler's two-run double in the bottom of the eighth off Dan Wheeler clinched Texas' second victory in the three-game series.Despite losing the series finale, the Rays still won the season series against Texas, 5-4. A group of Rangers relievers had to scramble after left-hander Kason Gabbard's unexpectedly early exit. The Texas starter bowed out one pitch into the second inning with forearm stiffness.
Right-handers Willie Eyre (3 2/3 scoreless innings), Wes Littleton (1 2/3 scoreless innings) and Frank Francisco (one run in 1 1/3 innings) bridged the gap to late-inning specialist Joaquin Benoit, who pitched a perfect ninth.The Rays' biggest threat came in the fourth, when they loaded the bases with one out. But Eyre escaped unscathed when Ben Zobrist lined out to first baseman Wilkerson, who threw to second in time to double-up Josh Wilson. "That could've put us back in good position, but it didn't happen," Maddon said. "That was a big play for them." Crawford served as the Rays' designated hitter Sunday, but it was the first time in 13 games that he didn't have a hit. After going 22-for-37 (.595) in his previous eight games, with eight multihit games in a row, he was held hitless in five at-bats after lining out to left fielder Murphy to end the eighth. That snapped Crawford's hitting streak at 12 games, one shy of matching his career best. "You always like to take a streak as long as you can," he said, "but you also know it's going to end sometime."
The Rays are 3-4 on their current road trip heading into the finale, a three-game series in Boston starting Monday night. The Rays have won just two of their last 18 games at Fenway Park. A similar showing this week will do little to put The Question to rest.
Ken Daley is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.