ST. PETERSBURG – It was a decision among a hundred.
And when a wild game was over, it was almost forgotten and mostly mossy.
But for 10 seconds or so, Ray's manager Kevin Cash and pitcher Charlie Morton stood together on a hill Friday night, it felt like a whole season was hanging in the balance.
It was the seventh inning in a scoreless game against the Red Sox and Morton had just delivered his first extra-base hit of the night on his 100th pitch. As if it was a signal, Cash came out of the Rays dugout.
Around these parts, it almost always means that a decision has already been made. And that usually means the jug is on its way to showers. In his previous 801
But this time he held the ball in Morton's hand. And three places later, Mitch Moreland hit a homer with two runs.
The result was obviously horrible.
It was not the decision.
That's the cost of being in a pennant. At these moments, in this hellfire, there is no margin for error and no explanations worth offering. And since the Rays came back to win 5-4 in 11 innings and remain tied with Cleveland for the second wildcard spot, the moment means little to anyone else.
But for a pitcher and a manager, it says something about their journey.
Cash regrets the decision. Not to leave Morton in the game, but to leave the dugout. He had already decided to ride his best horse – the idea Boston could have pinched JD Martinez if Cash went to a shipper was also a factor – but wanted to check in with Morton.
"When they see me go out, they give me the ball, and basically that's it," Cash said. "This was more or less out of respect for him to check out how he had it. If I had to do it again I wouldn't have done it. & # 39; & # 39;
That Cash would choose this moment to stay with his start is no surprise. And that he would Choosing this pitcher was even less surprising. The game was so important, and Morton has been so reliable. Snyder. "What he has been able to contribute, especially the reliability was five to six days when we went through some of those injuries during the second half of the season, has been special.
"We have trusted him in the second half where, in other circumstances, we would rather try to scale back. Given all this, the year he had, and what he meant to us, it is quite difficult to formulate. & # 39; & # 39;
When Cash reached the pile, the discussion was comically short.
"I'm fine, & # 39; & # 39; said Morton. "I got this." is not the sign of a pitcher struggling. It turns out that Morton only went to his curve ball once too many.
"I wanted to stay in the game, I wanted to end that inning," Morton said. "But if you look at that bat, there was no indication I was making bad pitches. I didn't throw him a good pitch, but I wouldn't say it was a bad pitch either. And cash is really not to blame for coming out. 0-2 on him. & # 39; & # 39;
This time it didn't work for Morton.
And it almost didn't work for Cash and the Rays.
But there's a resilience to that this team is hard to explain.
They have blown more late joints They have survived major injuries that should have crushed a team with Major League Baseball's smallest payroll. They passed by the Yankees in the American League East in June and passed by athletics in the wild card race in September.
And they still have nine days left.
John Romano can be reached at [email protected] . Follow @romano_tbtimes.