Heading into the weekend series, Tampa Bay had a chance to get some more separation from Boston, which came in with a 6-13 record and was eight games behind the Rays in the American League East. Instead, the Red Sox leave town on a three-game winning streak and trail the Rays by just five games in the division.
“This is our first test of adversity, and it might be a blessing in disguise,” Kiermaier said. “We need to comeback, have a good bounce-back win tomorrow and win another series against the Royals. Kind of a disappointing weekend somewhat, but at the same time, no one ever gave up and we just came up on the short end of the stick, and that’s baseball sometimes.”
The Rays battled back to tie the game in the late innings in all three of the losses, but the team fell short in every game, losing by one run in all three contests. Tommy Pham, who said he would make up for his mistake after getting picked off at first base to end Saturday’s game, hit a game-tying home run off Red Sox reliever Matt Barnes in the eighth inning.
“A lot of good at-bats against [Alvarado],” said Rays manager Kevin Cash. “A lot of really good at-bats. A lot of good at-bats one through nine in their lineup.”
After jumping out to a 14-4 start through 18 games, the Rays have dropped four consecutive games and lost a series for the first time this season at the hands of the defending World Series champions.
The focus for the Rays now shifts to a three-game series against the Royals to wrap up a nine-game homestand.
“Look, we got knocked down,” said Cash. “We’re capable of getting back up. We have to get back to finding ways to win games. We were in every ballgame, which ultimately is not good enough, but you have to find ways to win them and we just came up short.
“But a lot of confidence in this team to find a way to get back at it and we have a series against the Royals coming up here, so we’ll be mad tonight and then get ready to play [Monday].”
Cash pulls Glasnow in the sixth
Tyler Glasnow, who came into Sunday’s game with a 4-0 record, got the start for the Rays and pitched well, allowing just two runs and striking out five in 5 1/3 innings of work. But after the right-hander allowed a single to Mookie Betts in the sixth inning, Cash took Glasnow out of the game after throwing just 76 pitches.
“We had a lead and we had a chance to get to what we would’ve considered our best matchups moving forward,” Cash said. “It just didn’t work out.”
Cash replaced Glasnow with left-hander Adam Kolarek in order to face the lefty Mitch Moreland. But Red Sox manager Alex Cora countered the move by pinch-hitting Moreland with the righty, Steve Pearce. The matchup flipped in Boston’s favor as Kolarek walked Pearce. Following the walk, Chaz Roe replaced Kolarek and proceeded to walk J.D. Martinez before giving up a two-run single to Xander Bogaerts, giving the Red Sox a 3-2 lead.
“[Glasnow] had thrown the ball well, it was a really tough decision on my end,” Cash said. “He’s frustrated because he came out and I totally respect that. The fact that everyone wants to be out there pitching sometimes ... there are some difficult decisions that have to be made and not everyone is going to see eye-to-eye on, which I totally understand. That one in particular was pretty challenging.”
Glasnow admitted that the move was frustrating when it happened, but he understands the thinking behind the decision.
“In the moment, I’m definitely frustrated,” Glasnow said. “It doesn’t matter if I agree or disagree with it. Cash has made some really good decisions and I think if that goes and works out, everybody is singing a different tune. I think in the moment, there’s some frustration, but we have such a good bullpen. I respect any decision Cash makes and those guys have gone out and closed the door for me multiple times. That’s how baseball is.”