Rays’ slump entering historic porportions

by Gary Shelton on August 13, 2017 · 0 comments

in general

Linder scores on a wild pitch by Chris Archer./CARMEN MANDATO

Linder scores on a wild pitch by Chris Archer./CARMEN MANDATO

Sunday, 3 a.m.

Ben Grieve never had this much nothing.

Vinny Castilla, either.

Paul Sorrento or Kevin Stocker or Rich Butler never struggled like this. Danny Clyburn and Steve Cox and Robert Fick were never this far from home plate. No Rays' hitter ever has been this much under control by American League pitchers.

It happened again Saturday. Once again, a team that has been fairly powerful for most of the season was made to look meek and feeble. The Rays were shut out for the fifth time in eight games — the worst stretch in Rays' history, by the Cleveland Indians, 3-0. Mike Clevenger, a fairly pedestrian pitcher for the Indians, tamed the Rays on four hits.

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Indians ran their record to 7-0 against Rays../CARMEN MANDATO

Indians ran their record to 7-0 against Archer./CARMEN MANDATO

“More of the same,” said Rays' manager Kevin Cash. “I don’t have any explanation. We are in an offensive funk. It is what it is. We are going to get out of it eventually. We need to turn things around. I think the guys know that. Good pitching and us not having our timing at the plate right now. Those two things happening at one time, you are going to spiral offensively and I think that’s what we’ve done here in the last 5-6 games. It’s unfortunate, but we have to bounce back somehow.”

Cash fights his frustration during the game./CARMEN MANDATO

Cash fights his frustration during the game./CARMEN MANDATO

It has been one of the most frigid stretches in Rays' history. The Rays have scored eight runs in eight games — again, they've never done worse. They've averaged less than six hits per game. They've had five games with four hits or fewer. In those eight games, they've struck out 87 times. They have two hits in their last 35 at bats with runners in scoring position.

Because of it, the Rays fell back to .500 for the first time since they were 35-35.

Cash was asked about lineup changes: “What would I do?” he said. “Take all nine of them out? We're playing the lineup we feel gives us the chance to win.”

The Rays' Chris Archer was unable to stop the fall. He lost to Cleveland again, and is now 0-7 against the Tribe in his career. He has an ERA of 5.87 against them.

It appears that the offensive funk is spreading to other parts of the Rays' game -- the defense and the baserunning. For instance, Brad Miller doubled in the sixth and was thrown out trying to steal third.

Ramos saw his average fall to .170./CARMEN MANDATO

Ramos saw his average fall to .170./CARMEN MANDATO

“I think that’s probably a sign of being over aggressive in that situation, but in saying that, he’s trying to do something to jump start us,” Cash said. “It doesn’t look good when he gets thrown out, but it’s done with good intention trying to help get the offense fired up.

“It’s tough to tell (if the funk is affecting the rest of the Rays' play). As much as we talk about the clubhouse and how much we believe in the guys in here, to a degree it has to take a toll, but we also believe on the character of the guys that we will overcome this as a group. It’s not one guy, or two guys, it’s a complete lineup that is spiraling a little bit.

Outfielder Corey Dickerson, now down to .289, says the slump was a matter of course. But a slump this deep? Another American League team hasn't gone through something like this since Oakland in 1978.

“Teams and people go through it. It’s one of the hardest games out there, but how quick we can get it back and how long it lasts, I can scratch my head about that. Just snap it and try to get it back going anyway possible and feed off one another again.”

On the other hand, this is not a normal slump. It's been decades since a team has struggled like this.

Even worse is that the Rays have to face overpowering pitcher Corey Kuber of the Indians today. Kluber has to be itching to get at this lineup. He faces Austin Pruitt at the Trop in a game that starts at 1:10 p.m.

Miller caught stealing third base in the fifth./CARMEN MANDATO

Miller caught stealing third base in the fifth./CARMEN MANDATO

 

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