Start at the end Friday night, the ninth inning. A three-run lead for Grant Balfour to protect and the Nos. 8, 9 and 1 batters in the Los Angeles Angels order waiting to hit. Sound familiar? Of course. It was that same cushion and that same part of the order that gave Balfour fits Thursday as the Angels rallied past the Tampa Bay Rays for a loss that Rays manager Joe Maddon said he tested his 30-minute rule, which is the time Maddon allows for himself and the players to celebrate a win or mourn a loss. On Friday, Balfour delivered – three pop ups and a strikeout – and the Rays won 3-0 at Angel Stadium. “That’s what Grant looks like,” Maddon said. Balfour was pulled Thursday after walking the first two batters and allowing an RBI single. Brad Boxberger was summoned to face Mike Trout, and Trout ended the game with a three-run homer, handing the Rays a stunning 6-5 loss. It was a trying loss because everything worked so well up until the ninth inning – the starting pitching, the bullpen, the offense. It was the same story Friday. Chris Archer, who tweaked a few things in his delivery on the advice of David Price, turned in his best start since mid-April, allowing two hits in 5 2/3 innings. The offense did its part with a solo home run from Yunel Escobar and RBI singles by James Loney and Longoria. The bullpen came through, with Juan Carlos Oviedo, Jake McGee and Joel Peralta building the bridge to Balfour. Archer won for the first time since April 19. He did walk five batters, but he avoided the big inning by making the big pitch. No pitch was bigger then when he got Albert Pujols to ground out to Evan Longoria at third base to end the fifth inning after he walked the bases-loaded with two outs. McGee also pitched out of a jam by getting Pujols to fly out to right field in the seventh inning with two on. It all lead to Balfour, who was not pleased about being pulled from Thursday’s game with the Rays still ahead by two runs because he felt he could have done his job. In fact, that was one of the factors that allowed him to remain positive Friday afternoon when he returned to the clubhouse. “I know I didn’t start off well but I didn’t get the chance (to finish),” Balfour said. “I thought about it. I didn’t blow the save (Thursday) night. I didn’t get a chance to finish the game. I was out of the game. I’m not going to beat myself up over it. Who knows? I could have come out of it, who knows? No one knows. And the thing is that’s part of the game.” Balfour watched video of himself pitching in Thursday’s game, noticed two areas that needed fixing and fixed them while throwing in the outfield during batting practice.
Rays, Balfour rewrite history, hold off Angels 3-0
Tampa Tribune | May 17