The Tampa Bay Rays have made a number of mental mistakes over the past six weeks of the season, and the ongoing issue is starting to take a toll on their manager.
Joe Maddon discussed his team's penchant for mental mistakes with Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times after the team's 8-2 loss to the Texas Rangers. Maddon sounded frustrated when talking with the reporter, stating:
"You have to be aware. Aware, aware, aware. Constantly. There's no taking naps in these games, man. This stuff is for real. We are playing quality opponents. Absolutely, we are playing quality opponents. It's on us to be ready mentally to play these games. And these little mental faux paus cannot be part of it."
The latest mistake that hurt Tampa Bay came in the fourth inning with the Rays trailing 4-2. The Rangers had two runners in scoring position with two outs. Elvis Andrus hit a grounder at Yunel Escobar, who did not charge the ball. Escobar then made a low throw to James Loney, and Andrus beat out the throw.
Ian Kinsler, who started the at-bat on second base, decided to round third base and head for home. Loney did not come off the base expecting the play, and Kinsler ended up scoring from second on an infield single.
The Rays and Rangers enter Friday tied atop the AL Wild Card at 83-69. The Cleveland Indians sit 1/2 game behind the the two teams, with the Baltimore Orioles, Kansas City Royals and New York Yankees all within 3 1/2 games. Tampa Bay still sits in the driver's seat for the Wild Card, but will need to clean up their play to avoid being overtaken during the final two weeks of the season.