ST. PETERSBURG -- There wasn't a lot to be happy about in the Rays' 6-1 loss to the Red Sox on Monday night, but Andy Sonnanstine's work out of the bullpen provided a small silver lining in an otherwise disappointing outing.
The converted reliever pitched three scoreless innings, gave up only two hits and struck out four batters while walking none. It was Sonnanstine's first appearance since he gave up four runs in two-thirds of an inning against the Yankees on Wednesday. The game was already out of reach when the right-hander took over for Lance Cormier, but his bounce-back performance was encouraging to Rays manager Joe Maddon.
"He was real frisky and fresh yesterday. He had really good stuff," Maddon said. "He had a real sharp breaking ball, and having had the appropriate rest, I think that was helpful."
Maddon attributed the ninth-inning collapse in New York to the game being Sonnanstine's third in a row -- an unusual task for a pitcher who is still adjusting to his role in the bullpen after three years as a starter for Tampa Bay.
"He'd never done that before," Maddon said. "There's an emotional aspect of pitching also. He had pitched three days in a row. I know it was not a high-leverage situation, but I think it had something to do with that third day."
Despite that, Maddon said he won't avoid pitching Sonnanstine multiple nights in a row in the future, but he will more carefully evaluate the situations in which he sends the right-hander to the mound. Maddon went on to praise Sonnanstine's work ethic, and he told his pitcher that the off night was just an "anomaly."
"I'm not at all afraid to bring him into a game," said Maddon. "This guy, a couple years ago, was pitching some meaningful games in September against the Yankees and the Red Sox, and pitched very well. He's not nervous when he goes out there."