A lineup card mishap forced the Tampa Bay Rays to play their last game without a designated hitter, but the club still managed to deliver another strong day at the plate for its third straight win.
The Oakland Athletics’ afternoon got off to a much more promising start but ended with the team’s third consecutive defeat.
The Rays look to continue their hot hitting and take advantage of the slumping Athletics as the clubs open a four-game series Monday night at Tropicana Field.
Tampa Bay’s game against Cleveland on Sunday was delayed 13 minutes before the bottom of the first inning due to a lineup card error submitted by Rays manager Joe Maddon that listed both Ben Zobrist(notes) and Evan Longoria(notes) as the third baseman. Longoria was supposed to be the designated hitter, but Tampa Bay (19-20) lost the DH position because of the snafu and was forced to bat starting pitcher Andy Sonnanstine(notes) third.
Sonnanstine responded with an RBI double in the fourth to help Tampa Bay take a 7-5 victory, its third straight win and eighth in 12 games. The Rays were 5 for 12 with runners in scoring position while scoring at least seven runs for the fourth time in five games.
“I messed up, and the players picked me up,” said Maddon, who didn’t notice the mistake on the lineup card before signing it.
While the Rays were able to overcome that disadvantage Sunday, the Athletics (13-21) couldn’t hold on to an early 6-0 lead in their 11-7 loss at Detroit that afternoon.
Oakland relievers Santiago Casilla(notes) and Russ Springer(notes) both allowed three-run homers to the first batters they faced as the normally reliable Oakland bullpen again struggled. After coming into the series with a major league-best 2.75 ERA, Athletics relievers posted an 8.10 ERA while getting swept in a three-game series for the second time this season.
“That was a surprise, but we knew it was going to be difficult for our bullpen to keep pitching this well all season,” manager Bob Geren said. “Normally, they keep us ahead in this game, but it just didn’t work today.”
Geren, though, isn’t worried about his team’s ability to bounce back after getting outscored 34-9 over the weekend.
“I just talked to everyone as a group, and told them that I thought the effort was outstanding this weekend,” he said. “We just need to write this off as a bad series, get out of town and start fresh in Tampa.”
Oakland hopes to rebound behind Monday’s starter Sean Gallagher(notes) (1-1, 4.50 ERA). The right-hander made his first four appearances of the season in relief before giving up four runs in five innings of a 6-4 loss to Toronto last Saturday.
“I’m very disappointed in myself right now. I feel like I had good stuff today, and I wasn’t able to execute my pitches to the best of my ability,” Gallagher told the Athletics’ official Web site. “I’ve just got to work on getting the ball down in the zone.”
A right-hander who made his major league debut last April, Niemann held Baltimore to two runs in five innings of an 8-6 victory Wednesday—his third win in four decisions. He’s never faced the Athletics.
Oakland won two of three in its first series against Tampa Bay, which hasn’t been at .500 since it was 4-4 on April 14.
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