The Tampa Bay Rays were unable to capitalize on the momentum they gained from a brilliant Game 1 start by rookie Matt Moore, and lost Game 2 of the ALDS, 8-6, to the Texas Rangers Saturday night.
Things looked good after Tampa Bay grabbed an early 3-0 lead off Texas starter Derek Holland, but a five-run fourth inning by the Rangers would prove to be the tipping point of the game.
There were many reasons the Rays lost in Game 2.
Sloppy pitching from the Rays and clutch hitting from the Rangers, as well as a possible blown call in the decisive fourth inning, were all instrumental in the final outcome of the game.
The series is now tied 1-1 heading into Game 3 in St. Petersburg on Monday.
Here are six reasons the Rays lost Game 2.
After a rough first inning that saw Derek Holland walk in the game's first run, the young left-hander settled in and began to keep the Rays off balance.
Holland walked Kelly Shoppach with the bases loaded and two outs, and it looked like the Rays might be able to bust the game open early.
But he would settle down, began using his curveball more effectively and the Rays began to look a little lost at the plate.
Holland hurt himself in the fourth inning by committing a throwing error with two outs that brought Matt Joyce to the plate.
Joyce would hit a bomb off the facade in right field to make the score 3-0, but that is all the Rays would get off Holland, who would hand a two-run lead to the bullpen in the sixth.
With runners on first and second with one out in the bottom of the fourth, the Rangers' David Murphy hit a ball that bounced just inches in front of home plate, but stayed in fair territory.
Home plate umpire Kerwin Danley called the ball foul before the play was even over, and even though Rays catcher Kelly Shoppach pounced on the ball and threw Murphy out, the play stood as a dead ball.
Joe Maddon didn't put up much of a protest over the blown call, but replays clearly showed that the ball was fair.
The blown call would extend Murphy's at-bat, leading to a wild pitch that would move the runners to second and third.
Murphy would eventually reach on yet another wild pitch after striking out, and the go-ahead run would cross the plate.
The Murphy at-bat was the pivotal point in the inning...and the game.
While there were many factors in the Rays losing, the blown call was a huge break for the Rangers, and seemed to further irritate an already struggling James Shields.
All was going well for James Shields, who had yet to give up a run entering the fourth inning.
It looked like business as usual for Shields, but the inning would end up being perhaps his worst of the season.
Shields started the frame by hitting Elvis Andrus with a breaking ball.
Josh Hamilton would follow with a single to right, through a patented Joe Maddon infield shift, and another single by Michael Young would load the bases.
Shields would then hit his second batter of the inning, plunking Adrian Beltre to give the Rangers their first run.
A gritty at-bat by Mike Napoli would follow, the final result being a two-run single to tie the game at three.
Shields looked like he was going to rebound after striking out Nelson Cruz, but then the Kerwin Danley debacle resulted in a clearly rattled Shields uncorking two wild pitches that gave the Rangers the lead.
After surrendering an RBI ground out to Mitch Moreland, Shields would end the inning by getting Ian Kinsler to fly out.
The damage was done though, and the Rays would never recover.
Shields wildness and the blown call by Danley led to one of the sloppiest innings by the Rays in recent memory, and Shields was clearly out of sorts.
He even began walking off the mound after the second out, thinking the inning was over.
The normally mentally-tough Shields had a pretty bad meltdown in the fourth inning, and it was a huge reason why the Rays ended up losing.
Game 1 hitting hero Kelly Shoppach looked out of sorts behind the plate in Game 2.
The two wild pitches in the fourth inning both appeared to be plays Shoppach could have made.
He also seemed to be out of sync with Shields at times during the game.
John Jaso would pinch hit for him in the sixth inning, and when he entered the game defensively in the sixth, it was clear that he was not quite in the game, mentally.
With the bases loaded and new pitcher Juan Cruz in the game, Jaso was twice called out to the mound to discuss pitch selection or signs.
Whatever Cruz and Jaso were discussing, it was clear that they were not on the same page, and with the game situation being what it was, that was inexcusable.
The Rangers came up with key hits when they needed to.
Mike Napoli's at-bat in the pivotal fourth inning was a nice piece of hitting, and as the game progressed, the Rangers consistently grounded out at-bats against Rays pitching.
Another key situation the Rangers cashed in was in the sixth when Ian Kinsler hit a two-run double to right that would extend their lead to 7-3.
Mitch Moreland's home run in the eighth off of Brandon Gomes was a big hit too, giving Neftali Feliz an extra run to work with in the ninth.
The Rangers also showed their versatile offense, as they scored runs on a hit batter, a ground out, and a wild pitch. They showed a willingness to take what the Rays were giving them and the ability to capitalize on mistakes.
Other than Koji Uehera, who failed to retire a batter in the seventh and gave up a three-run homer to Evan Longoria, the bullpen was more than effective for the Rangers in Game 2.
Darren Oliver, Mike Adams and Neftali Feliz protected the slim Rangers lead, and showed that Texas has a very deep bullpen with a variety of options to shut down an opponent.
Alexi Ogando was effective in the sixth as well, and after being in the rotation all season, he showed what he can offer the team out of the 'pen this postseason.
The Rangers showcased good starting pitching, clutch hitting and a very tough bullpen in Game 2. They were finally able to slow down the Rays' freight train.
The Rays, despite big hits from Joyce and Longoria, showed they are just as vulnerable to losing as any other club when they start playing sloppy baseball.
Ladies and gentlemen....I think we have a series.