Rays shift into reverse in loss to Twins

Jackson struggles in loss to Twins

ST. PETERSBURG -- At times, it's hard to believe the Devil Rays are the same team as the day before. If ever Jekyll and Hyde wore the Rays' uniform, it's this year's bunch.

The Rays' roller-coaster continued Tuesday night, when the Twins reported to Tropicana Field and took a 9-1 win over the Rays in front of 8,773 fans.

"It's schizophrenic," Rays manager Joe Maddon said. "You know, we have a great game and then not such a good game, a good game and not such a good game. And we've got to get to the point where we're a little more consistent."

Sunday the Rays were in high gear, putting on display everything that makes them such an exciting young team to watch: power, speed and a quality starting pitching performance.

Tuesday night felt like the only gear the Rays could find was reverse.

Starter Edwin Jackson didn't get out of the second inning, and the Rays committed two errors. Meanwhile, Twins starter Sidney Ponson looked nothing like a struggling pitcher who brought an 8.44 ERA into the game.

"We had physical mistakes in the field, we had mental mistakes in the field ... We did several things wrong," Maddon said. "Can't do that. We've got to stop doing that. It's our fault. We're imploding early.

A play that occurred in the second inning personified the Rays' frustrations Tuesday night.

Having already surrendered two runs in the first inning, Jackson promptly walked Torii Hunter and Jason Kubel to start the second. Jason Tyner then put down a bunt that Jackson fielded. The Rays right-hander looked to first base, but held his throw when he saw nobody covering the bag. He then turned to see that Kubel had gone too far rounding third. Jackson opted to try to nail the runner, but his throw sailed over third baseman Ty Wigginton's head to allow Kubel to score and Tyner to advance to third.

"I looked to first, and nobody was there, so I looked at third and I wasn't sure if Wiggy was looking at me or not," Jackson said. "I tried to manipulate the throw a little bit. It was one of those where you go to throw and you in-between it. Just air mailed it."

By the time the top of the second had ended, the Twins were up 6-0 and Jackson was gone after throwing just 49 pitches. He lasted 1 1/3 innings, a performance that matched his shortest career outing. On Sept. 13, 2005, while with the Dodgers, Jackson lasted just 1 1/3 innings in a game against the Rockies.

"I didn't get the job done," Jackson said. "Just another one of those games."

The Rays have now been outscored 26-4 in the first inning this season.

"It's difficult when you get behind early by that many runs," Maddon said. "It makes it very difficult to battle back. It just does. We just have to get past that early part of the game and play better. Get to the deeper part of the game where we give ourselves a chance. So it's frustrating. It is."

Ponson won for the second time this season, with his other victory coming against the Rays on April 14 at Minnesota. Ponson (2-3) worked a season-high seven innings, allowing one run and five hits. Matt Guerrier and Juan Rincon then held the Rays scoreless and hitless over the final two innings.

"I'm just really happy that these guys gave me six runs early and made my life easy out there," Ponson said.

Delmon Young's second-inning home run, which traveled 448 feet, gave the Rays their only offense. Meanwhile, the Twins managed 17 hits against a parade of Rays pitchers, including Jackson, Ruddy Lugo, Jae Kuk Ryu, Juan Salas, Shawn Camp, Brian Stokes and Gary Glover.

Maddon looked forward to turning the page.

"We'll get there, we're going to get there," Maddon said. "We played the bad series in Anaheim. And you go to Oakland [over the weekend] and win two out of three. We had a bad game tonight. Boom, forget about it, let's come back. Do the 24-hour thing and turn it around tomorrow.

"That's one of the biggest things I want to try to accomplish is that our guys really come out on an even level mentally on an everyday basis. We're young. We make some mistakes. We're going to bounce back tomorrow, and we're going to get after them."

Bill Chastain is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.