Rays fall again despite Snell’s good outing

by Gary Shelton on July 25, 2017 · 3 comments

in general, Tampa Bay Rays

Smith slides into third on a triple in the fifth./STEVEN MUNCIE

Smith slides into third on a triple in the fifth./STEVEN MUNCIE

Tuesday, 4 a.m.

All of the sudden, there is a hink in their dinky.

There are termites in their bats, scorpions in their gloves, black cats on their base paths. They are making that little beep-beep-beep sound of a golf cart backing up. Natural catastrophes are all around: The sky is falling, the creeks are rising and the lava is flowing. Also, there are catwalks.

The Tampa Bay Rays, in contention a heartbeat ago, are sinking like a stone in a pond.

The Rays lost their fifth straight game Monday night, falling 5-0 to the Baltimore Orioles. The Rays have now gone from having a 1 ½ game lead in the wildcard race to potentially being out of the running.

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Wilson Ramos grabs his head in pain after getting hit with a broken bat./STEVEN MUNCIE

Wilson Ramos grabs his head in pain after getting hit with a broken bat./STEVEN MUNCIE

The Rays went 0-7 with runners in scoring position, and in their losing streak, they're hitting .128 (five for 39) with runners in scoring position.

If there was a key play in this one, it was the fifth inning. Mallex Smith led the inning off with a triple (the Rays trailed 1-0 at the time), and never moved. Adeiny Hechavaria grounded out. After Steven Souza Jr. walked, Corey Dickerson grounded into a double play to end the inning.

“The big hit is probably eluding us a little bit right now,” Rays' manager Kevin Cash said. “Go back to that Texas series, there just weren't a lot of big hits. Now, we had leads, but when the game was tied or we were down, we couldn't quite find that hit. Mallex leads off that inning with a triple and we couldn't get him in. We'll get back to doing that.”

Elsewhere in the loss:

– Pitcher Blake Snell had his best start as a Ray, holding the O's to one run through seven innings. He ended up going seven innings (plus two batters) and giving up six hits and three earned runs. He walked only one. Still, he took his sixth loss.

Blake Snell had his best start as a Ray but lost./STEVEN MUNCIE

Blake Snell had his best start as a Ray but lost./STEVEN MUNCIE

– Reliever Sergio Romo made his Rays' debut, and promptly gave up singles up the middle. He ended up giving up one run.

–  Some of the stars that had the Rays in contention are struggling. Logan Morrison is zero for his last 12. Corey Dickerson is zero for his last 11.

– The Rays hitters had only six hits, and only 25 for the four-game homestand.

–  Catcher Wilson Ramos left the game after being hit by a bat. He received six staples in his forehead.

–  Orioles' pitcher Kevin Gausman shut out the Rays for the second time in July.

And so it goes.

Cash, looking for light, was encouraged by Snell's performance.

“It was probably the best performance we've seen from him,” Cash said.

Said Snell: “I was really challenging the hitters, and I was proud about that. I've been trying to do that for some time. That set up my offspeed to really play a lot better.”

Adeiny Hechavarria throws a runner out./STEVEN MUNCIE

Adeiny Hechavarria throws a runner out./STEVEN MUNCIE

And yet, the losing continues, and the bottom of the standings sings out like an old friend.

It is an awful time in the force, as they say. The Tampa Bay Rays spend half of the baseball season convincing everyone they were for real, and now, they look like a very nice piece of fiction. They are taking on water, and they are sinking. They are halfway up the mountain, and they are falling. There are jagged rocks below. There are snakes on the plane, and they are barefoot.

You knew it all along, right?

In certain quarters, this is how you deal with a dip in the road during the season's second half. You tell your friends that it was bound to happen, because you weren't fooled by all the home runs. You saw a team that strikes out too much, and that has too many problems in the bullpen. You knew better. You have learned from three straight seasons that have left you with scars.

“I think you play 100 or so ballgames,” Cash said before the game. “Three games don't define you. We had three games with a two-run lead in the seventh inning, and we didn't make it happen. That's not going to make us lose confidence. Are we frustrated? Sure. It's fair to be frustated. That's not going to make us change our minds about how good this ballclub is.”

Sergio Romo throws his first pitch as a Ray./STEVEN MUNCIE

Sergio Romo throws his first pitch as a Ray./STEVEN MUNCIE

The frustrations? They may be the highest compliments you can pay the Rays .

Look, if you're ticked off, it's because you care. And if you care, it's because the Rays – through 100 games – have made you care. They've mattered, and no one wants to see it end. So, sure, you're frustrated. You're darned skippy you are.

Remember last year? A five-game losing streak in late July wouldn't have surprised you. Every five games, it seems, included a five-game losing streak. A fan gets frustrated only when something is at stake.

“Without a doubt,” Cash said when asked if the frustration was a good thing. “You want your fans passionate. The last couple of series we've seen passionate fans. They showed up for the Boston series, and we had a pretty intense four-game series. It left all of us with a good taste. If they're reactive, that's fine. Because they care about us winning games.”

So, yeah, fans say some silly things in the echoes of defeat. They talk about giving up on the team, of selling the team, or turning off their TVs or standing by while Montreal takes over. But that's just the losses talking. Blown baseball games ought to hurt. Watching seven home runs in three days rip out your heart is supposed to leave you frustrated.

The Rays have done it now. They have made this season matter.

It is up to them to do it again.

The Rays try again tonight, when Jacob Faria pitches against Baltimore's Wade Miley at 7:10 at the Trop.

Tim Beckham attempts to slide back to first but is doubled off./STEVEN MUNCIE

Tim Beckham attempts to slide back to first but is doubled off./STEVEN MUNCIE

 

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{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Bill MYERS July 25, 2017 at 8:23 am

I’m not worried. What will be will be! And BTW….NFL training camps open soon.

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Larry Beller July 25, 2017 at 5:02 am

Nice picture of Beckham making another base running blunder. Some things never change right? I think as long as Dickerson and Morrison continue to slump so will the team. Those 2 have been the biggest difference makers from last year and if they return to last year’s form the team will continue to slide. The Rays are wasting a lot of good pitching in this losing streak which is a shame.

Reply

Gary Shelton July 25, 2017 at 8:37 pm

Those two are essential. I totally agree.

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