Nearly lost in excitement of the Tampa Bay Rays’ 12-inning comeback over Texas on Wednesday was the mental miscue by rookie rightfielder Wil Myers.
With the game tied at 2 during the top of the 11th, Myers was slow to field a hit off the bat of Adrian Beltre and lobbed the ball back into the infield, allowing Elvis Andrus to score all the way from first.
The Rays wound up winning the game 4-3 and lead the Rangers by one game for the American League’s top wild-card spot.
“He knew what he had done wrong. Beyond that, I wanted him to understand the overriding impact that it hadand how he would be viewed in the industry and among fans,” said manager Joe Maddon, who spoke to Myers about the play. “I want this guy to be viewed positively. The thing that he did wrong (Wednesday) is fully controllable. I wanted him to understand all of that, and he does, and he did. I’d really be very, very surprised if that ever happened again.
“You can’t do that anywhere and play this game at a major-league level.”
Maddon pinned the play “100 percent” on Myers’ unawareness of the situation, as well as his unawareness of Andrus’ speed.
“Again, he’s a young man. He’s not played that much in the minor leagues,” Maddon said. “But when you get to this time of the year, and you’re playing a team like that with that kind of talent, it’s a hard lesson to learn – but it’s even more difficult to learn in a loss. It’s a little bit better to learn that lesson in a victory. Like I said, I want to believe we’ll never see that again.”
Myers is not in the lineup for tonight’s game against Texas and its ace righty, Yu Darvis. But Maddon said that decision wasn’t a result of Wednesday’s incident.
“That’s not punitive. This is just a good chance to get him off of his feet,” he said. “If we need him, I told him, ‘Listen, there’s better places to spot you during the course of this game.’ You saw how important the bench was (Wednesday).”
ONE ISN’T ENOUGH: With the American League East out of reach, the best chance the Rays have of making the playoffs is winning one of the league’s two wild-card berths.
While Maddon said he likes the creation of another playoff spot, a format currently in its second year, he wishes the two wild card winners didn’t have to engage in a one-and-done affair.
“I’m not backtracking – I think I said from the beginning I thought two out of three would be the best way to decide that in that moment,” he said. “I know the length of the season is a concern – I get all that. I mean, there’s different ways to potentially avert that. But I think that sudden victory kind of thing is kind of tough at the very end.”
The American League’s two wild cards meet Wednesday, Oct. 2. The team with the better record hosts, and the winner moves on to play the league’s top seed in the best-of-five Division Series.
“It’s Super Bowl kind of stuff, which is cool for football,” Maddon said of the one-game playoff. “But our game is predicated on depth and 162 games and an every night grind kind of a thing.”
Maddon has experience in a one-game playoff, though his memories aren’t pleasant. He was on the California Angels’ coaching staff in 1995 when they squandered a 13-game lead to the Seattle Mariners and lost a playoff in the Kingdome that decided the American League West.
“That was the regular season – after 162, it was tied. That was different. That’s baseball,” Maddon said. “Different rules right nowYou’re actually in the playoffs, and we were trying to get in the playoffs right then.”
SIMPLE APPROACH: What does David Price thinks he needs to do Friday against the Baltimore Orioles?
“Get a couple more of them out,” he said Wednesday, “and give up a couple of less hits.”
Price is 1-0 in three starts this year against Baltimore, but has a 4.76 ERA against them while allowing 25 hits in 17 innings. And that ERA is Price’s highest against teams he has faced more than once this season.
Price last faced the Orioles on Aug. 19 in Baltimore and earned the win despite going just five innings while allowing 10 hits and two runs. He threw 99 pitches.
“It was tough. It was,” said Price, 8-8 with a 3.42 ERA this year. “But it was good to be able to get through it the way we did. Obviously, I want to go deeper into games than what I didbut being in those types of situations, with runners in scoring position and less than two outs, and being able to get out of those and hold them to two runs is pretty good.”
Friday night is the first of a four-game series with the Orioles, who entered Thursday one game out of the second wild-card spot and two behind the Rays.