ST. PETERSBURG -- Starting in the bottom of the ninth inning on Thursday night, Joe Maddon saw the story of the Rays' season play out at Tropicana Field. And that wasn't a good thing.
In their 1-0, 10-inning loss to the Blue Jays in the series finale, the Rays wasted a masterful pitching performance from Jake Odorizzi. They squandered a golden opportunity for a walk-off win with two on and none out the ninth inning and they watched a winnable game slip away after Colby Rasmus' pinch-hit home run off reliever Steve Geltz in the 10th.
"In a microcosm kind of a way," Maddon said, "that's 2014 right there."
The loss finished off a three-game sweep by the Blue Jays -- their first-ever of at least three games at The Trop. In 47 previous series, the only other Toronto sweep came in a two-game set in 1998.
It was also the Rays' 41st home loss, guaranteeing them their first losing season at Tropicana Field since 2007, when they went 37-44 at home and 66-96 overall in their final season as the Devil Rays. Tampa Bay would need to go 15-6 in its final 21 games to finish this season with a winning record.
On Thursday, the Rays squandered Odorizzi's 7 1/3 shutout innings when they couldn't cash in on a big chance in the ninth. With Buehrle out of the game after eight scoreless frames of his own, Ben Zobrist and Wil Myers led off the ninth with back-to-back singles. But three Rays struck out against Toronto reliever Brett Cecil to end the threat.
"That's frustrating to not even make contact in that moment," Maddon said. "But that's been a problem for us all year. That's nothing new. We've had a hard time with the bases loaded. I want to believe it's going to come back to us next year, somehow."
Brandon Guyer was the first man retired, punched out on a 3-2 check swing by home-plate umpire Lance Barksdale. Guyer was halfway to first base before he realized Barksdale had said he'd gone around on Cecil's breaking ball.
"It's tough," Guyer said. "I've got to find a way to do the job there. I feel like I let the team down. I've got to have a better eye and know the situation and do a better job with it.
"I asked people, and people thought I went. I wasn't sure. Either way, right there, it was one of those -- he's got a heck of a curveball, and I couldn't lay off it. It was a good pitch. I keep playing it back in my head -- I'm like, 'Why couldn't I have just let it go?'"
That strikeout allowed the Blue Jays to intentionally walk Evan Longoria with one down and second base unoccupied to pitch to Logan Forsythe and Sean Rodriguez.
"[Cecil] has one of the best curveballs in Major League Baseball, but you're just hoping there's a base open somewhere so you can walk Longoria," Toronto manager John Gibbons said. "The big strikeout of Guyer is the key thing right there."
Forsythe and Rodriguez both went down swinging, and an inning later, the game was over.
Odorizzi and Buehrle mirrored one another pitch for pitch in a clasic duel. Through five innings, they had each thrown just 61 pitches, with Odorizzi having allowed one hit and Buehrle yielding two. At the end of the seventh, their pitch totals matched up again at 88. Toronto's hit total had increased to two, while Tampa Bay had raised its to four.
Odorizzi finally exited after tying his season and career high in innings pitched. He allowed three hits, struck out three and didn't walk a batter. Despite entering the stretch run of his first full Major League season, Odorizzi has been at the top of his game, having thrown 14 1/3 scoreless innings over his last two starts after a one-hit effort against the Red Sox on Aug. 30.
"My arm feels free for it being September, and I just want to end that way," Odorizzi said. "I felt really good. Never felt like I was in a jam. I felt totally in control of the game. I was making pitches and just kind of going about my business."
On Thursday, the top six Blue Jays' hitters, who had done so much damage in the first two games of the series, went a combined 0-for-18 against Odorizzi. Not one reached base.
But the Rays couldn't get to Buehrle either, as he allowed five hits and a walk while striking out four in his time on the mound.
"We have exceeded cardinal sins, mortal sins, original sins," Maddon said. "We've passed them all up. We have totally wasted a lot of good pitching."
David Adler is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.