ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — Two interviews, given about five hours apart Wednesday, served as a reminder of the harrowing life of a major league closer.
The first came before the Seattle Mariners met the Tampa Bay Rays, when acting manager Robby Thompson praised Danny Farquhar, who was perfect in his first five major league save situations.
Nine innings later, Thompson was discussing the first one Farquhar let get away, because the Mariners’ one-run, ninth-inning lead quickly melted into a 5-4 loss at Tropicana Field.
“We talked about it before the game, and it is hard to get those last three outs,” Thompson said. “A lot of times, no matter who you’re running out there, those last three outs are tough.”
Until the ninth inning Wednesday, Farquhar had made it look easy, including grabbing his fifth save in the series opener Tuesday.
That changed in a blink Wednesday, when he took the mound trying to protect a 4-3 lead.
Five batters and no outs later, the Rays (67-51) had snapped a six-game losing streak, and Farquhar was dealing with his first blown save as a major leaguer.
“Bad execution on a lot of pitches – pitches up in the zone, middle of the plate,” he said. “Major league hitters take advantage in that situation.”
Ben Zobrist almost evened the score by himself, sending a ball to the top of the right field wall – close enough that it was reviewed to see if it was a home run.
It wasn’t, but Zobrist was standing on third. He came home on a Matt Joyce single to tie the game. Joyce went to third on an Evan Longoria double. Wil Myers was intentionally walked to load the bases. And then Jason Bourgeois ended it with a single to right.
Afterward, Thompson traced the problem to the eighth inning, when three walks by Yoervis Medina had rolled the Rays back to the top of their order for the ninth.
“Those guys had seen (Farquhar on Tuesday), and they hadn’t seen him before really,” Thompson said. “Flipping it back to the top of the order probably gave them a little life. … We’ll see how Danny bounces back.”
Farquhar didn’t accept the excuse his manager handed him. But he indicated he’ll bounce back fine.
“The good thing is I failed a lot in the minors,” he said. “I blew a lot of saves down there. … I’ve got a pretty short memory. Forget about it and move on: 162 games, can’t dwell on one. Just move on and get ’em tomorrow.”
For a long while, it seemed as if the Mariners (55-64) would get ’em Wednesday. They jumped on 2012 Cy Young Award winner David Price for a run in the first inning, and were even or ahead until the final pitch.
Seattle’s big inning was a three-run fifth, with the damage done by a Dustin Ackley walk, a Humberto Quintero single, a Brad Miller triple and finally a Nick Franklin double while family and friends from his nearby hometown of Sanford, Fla., looked on.
“Two outs, I was looking for a decent pitch to hit,” Franklin said. “It was nice – my family being here, getting a hit.”
That gave Seattle a 4-1 lead, but the Rays got two back in a sixth inning that ended the evening for starting pitcher Aaron Harang.
“I felt good early on,” Harang said. “… The sixth inning I went out and just felt like I had gotten a little tight in the back of my forearm a little bit. I was having a tough time getting a good extension.”
Harang said he doesn’t expect the tightness to be anything serious.
Thompson said his team would be ready for the final game of the series Thursday.
“Harang was good for the five,” he said. “We felt that he could go back out there and hopefully get through the sixth, and it kind of snowballed on him a little bit there. But I think overall, I think we played a good game. We just came up short at the end.”
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