The Game: Despite recording three home runs in the contest, the Tampa Bay Rays lost their second consecutive game by losing to the Detroit Tigers 9-6 on Sunday afternoon at Joker Marchant Stadium.
The Tigers took an early lead in the first inning. Austin Jackson led off the inning with a single to short. Jackson advanced to second on a wild pitch and then later score on an RBI double by Magglio Ordonez to give the Tigers a 1-0 lead.
The Rays tied the game in the fifth inning. John Jaso went deep to right field for his first home run of the spring, tying the game 1-1.
But the game did not stayed tied long as Detroit struck back in the bottom of the fifth. Austin Jackson tripled to left with two outs to put a runner on. Johnny Damon plated the run with an RBI single to center giving Detroit a 2-1 lead.
The Detroit increased their lead in the sixth inning. Poor pitching by Mike Ekstrom accounted for two more Detroit runs. Walks issued to Miguel Cabrera and Max St. Pierre along with a wild pitch set the table for Jeff Larish’s two run single, giving the Tigers a 4-1 lead.
Tampa Bay fought back to take the lead in the seventh inning. Willy Aybar drew a walk to lead off the inning, then was replaced by JJ Furmaniak to pinch run. Pat Burrell followed with an RBI double to score Furmaniak and cut the lead in half. Then Justin Ruggiano cleared the bases with a two run homer to tie the game. Jaso singled to left before being driven home by a two run homer by Sean Rodriguez. The Rays took their first lead of the afternoon 6-4.
The Rays lead did not last long as the Tigers struck back in the bottom of the seventh to regain the lead. Jackson led off the inning with his second triple of the game. Brennan Boesch drove him home with an RBI double to center field. Boesch advanced to third on a single by Brent Dlugach. Robinson Diaz hit into a force out, scoring Boesch and losing Dlugach at second. St. Pierre singled to left to move Diaz to third. Don Kelly then reached on an error by Elliott Johnson, the error led to two runs and the Tigers regaining the lead 8-6.
The Tigers picked up an insurance run in the bottom of the eighth on an RBI single by Diaz to score Casper Wells, giving Detroit the 9-6 victory.
Jeff Niemann was strong in the no decision, allowing 1 run on 3 hits with 6 strikeouts in 3 2/3 innings. Mike Ekstrom gave up 3 runs on 2 hits with a strikeout and 2 walks in 2 innings. Joe Bateman struggled, allowing 4 runs on 5 hits with a strikeout in 1 inning. Richard De Los Santos saw 1/3 inning and allowed 1 walk. Heath Rollins pitched the final inning allowing 1 run on 2 hits with a walk.
RP Top Prospect Watch:
Reid Brignac: 0 for 2 with a walk.
John Jaso: 2 for 2 with a home run, 2 RBI’s and 2 runs scored.
A Look Ahead: The Rays are off on Monday. David Price will make his regularly scheduled appearance in a minor league scrimmage game at the Charlotte Sports Complex. The Rays (9-3) return to action against the Boston Red Sox (7-3) on Tuesday at Charlotte Sports Park. Wade Davis will get the start with Andy Sonnanstine to follow.