By JOSH VITALE, SunCoast Sports
ST. PETERSBURG—Tampa Bay Rays closer Grant Balfour is a fiery guy. He showed as much following the Rays’ 5-2 walk-off win over the Oakland A’s on Thursday.
The Rays had a 1-0 lead when Balfour entered the game in the top of the ninth inning, but the right-hander blew the save. A’s catcher John Jaso singled to lead off the frame, designated hitter Josh Donaldson walked and, after first baseman Brandon Moss struck out, left fielder Yoenis Cespedes hit a game-tying RBI double to left.
Oakland had a chance for more, too. Balfour intentionally walked shortstop Jed Lowrie to load the bases with out out, but he got the next two batters to fly out to left to keep the game tied.
The Rays ended up winning the game in the 11th inning on Sean Rodriguez’s walk-off three-run home run, absolving Balfour of any blame for losing the game. Still, he wasn’t pleased with the way he pitched.
Here’s what he had to say after the game, including remarks about his performance and the fans at Tropicana Field:
“That was a much needed win. I would have liked to have closed it out and won, but we won, and I’m walking away from here positive.”
“I loaded the bases up, but I got the two outs and kept it tied. It gives us that opportunity to do what we did. I could have gave in, gave up a couple more hits and we’re down by three or four, and the game is over. Like I said, I got to take the positive out of it. Shit happens. I’m not going to sit here and cry about it. I would have liked to have closed it out. It would have been easier to get a 1-2-3, but like I said, it happened quick. One pitch, boom he’s on it and next thing you know that guy is standing on second. Like I said, I pitched smart to Donaldson, kind of around him, then got the big strikeout. And I actually threw the wrong pitch to Cespedes. It never works out when you do that, as far as the wrong pitch being not the pitch that he put down, but I made a mistake there. That’s on me. The fans can boo me and all that shit, but that’s fine. It’s not going to help me out, it’s not going to help the team do anything out there when you do that shit. The feeling is, the team’s behind you and everybody’s behind you, the crowd, the whole nine yards, things are going to go right. But when you start pulling that shit, it’s not a good vibe. The team’s pulling for the team, so the fans got to be bulling for the team. Everybody’s got to be pulling for the team. You can’t be back and forth like that. That shit doesn’t work. So I’ll just walk away positive from it. It’s a good win. A much-needed win.”
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