'It got a little ugly': Rays suffer largest loss in club history

Tampa Bay allows 20 runs on 27 hits against the Blue Jays

May 24th, 2023

ST. PETERSBURG -- By the time it was over on Tuesday night, the Rays had allowed a franchise-record 27 hits while managing only six of their own. They’d given up 20 runs for only the seventh time in franchise history. They’d seen strike out Vladimir Guerrero Jr. and joked about the first baseman’s apparent need for a second pitch before manager Kevin Cash took the ball from him with two outs in the ninth inning and handed it to … catcher .

In the end, the Rays suffered the most lopsided loss in franchise history, a 20-1 defeat against the Blue Jays at Tropicana Field that they’ll look to forget as soon as possible.

“We're not in many of these lopsided games that I can recall here as of late, and that's a credit to the team and the way they've played,” Cash said. “Today got away from us, and in fairness, it got a little ugly.”

Granted, half of Toronto’s runs came off position players Raley -- who faced 13 hitters -- and Bethancourt as Tampa Bay looked to save its bullpen for the rest of the week.

“Luke needs to develop a changeup,” Cash quipped. “I am very appreciative of both him and CB.”

But the numbers do, indeed, paint an ugly picture.

• The Rays’ 19-run margin of defeat was the largest in club history, surpassing a 22-4 loss in Boston in Game 1 of a doubleheader on July 23, 2002.

• The 20 runs they allowed were tied for third most in franchise history, behind the 22 runs in the aforementioned game and a 21-4 loss at Yankee Stadium on July 22, 2007. The last time Tampa Bay gave up 20 runs was in a 20-8 loss at Fenway Park on Aug. 11, 2021.

• The previous franchise record for most hits allowed in a game was 25, set in that July 22, 2007, game against the Yankees.

It was only the Rays’ third loss by at least four runs this season -- the fewest in the Majors -- and their first since a 5-0 defeat against the Astros on April 25. Still off to the best 50-game start in franchise history at 35-15, they seemed perfectly ready to move on afterward.

“It happens. It's baseball,” said Raley, who struck out Guerrero, then served up a grand slam to him in the following inning. “We got beat up today, didn't play our best ball, and that’s it.”

While the Rays were throttled by Blue Jays starter José Berríos, who allowed only a solo homer by over seven efficient innings, top prospect was handed his first loss in his fifth big league start after giving up four runs on nine hits over four frames before the game got out of hand.

“Long at-bats. Sometimes there are pitches that you have to make to put them away or get the ball put in play softly,” Bradley said. “I'm happy for no walks, but now I know that I need to put at-bats away early so I can go deeper into the game and watch my pitch count.”

Due to injuries in the Rays’ rotation, Bradley was called up and sent back to Triple-A Durham twice within the span of two weeks in April. When the right-hander returned to the Majors last Thursday, he arrived with the assurance that he was here to stay a little while. That will, at least, give him time to apply what he learned on Tuesday night.

There were some encouraging things to carry forward, particularly the fact that Bradley struck out seven batters and didn’t issue a walk. He also said he felt good physically in his first Major League start on four days’ rest. But the 22-year-old gave up six hard-hit balls, including four that landed for a hit, and he threw 80 pitches to get 12 outs.

“I thought Taj threw the ball a little bit better than maybe what the stat line showed,” Cash said. “He's doing a lot of good things. We're going to have to have some patience with him. He's learning on the fly here, but very confident he's going to help us and he's going to be a very good pitcher.”

There were no such positives to take out of the disastrous fifth inning, when reliever -- called up when was placed on the paternity list -- surrendered six runs (five earned) on five hits, one walk and two wild pitches, with an error committed behind him to make it even worse. As Toronto pulled ahead, 10-0, there were scattered boos from the crowd of 11,906.

“Unraveled,” Cash said. “That was not a very good inning.”