Spiraling Rays lose another game to fall below .500

by Gary Shelton on August 14, 2017 · 0 comments

in general

Souza Jr. celebrates his two-run home run in the sixth./ANDREW J. KRAMER

Souza Jr. celebrates his two-run home run in the sixth./ANDREW J. KRAMER

Monday, 2 a.m.

The point of baseball is, of course, coming home.

But don't blame the Tampa Bay Rays if they can't wait to get away.

The Rays finished a horrid, homely homestand on Sunday, losing once again. This time, it was to the Cleveland Indians by a score of 4-3. It dropped the Rays below .500 (59-60) for the first time since the end of play on June 7.

Once again, the Rays had trouble hitting the ball, getting only four hits (and three of those in the

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Pruitt went six innings and allowed three runs./ANDREW J. KRAMER

Pruitt went six innings and allowed three runs./ANDREW J. KRAMER

third inning) before Steven Souza Jr. tied the game at 3 with a two-run homer in the sixth. The Rays scored only 11 runs in their nine-game homestand, an average of 1.22 a game. It's the lowest any Rays' team has averaged in a three-series homestand in its history.

Austin Jackson's solo homer in the eighth was the winning run.

Souza had a nice game for the Rays with two walks and a stolen base to go with his home run. He also threw out Carlos Santana at the plate from right field in the seventh.

Dickerson looks on after striking out in the fifth./ANDREW J. KRAMER

Dickerson looks on after striking out in the fifth./ANDREW J. KRAMER

“It’s just the game of baseball, you never know what’s going to happen. We played some really good teams,” said Steven Souza Jr. “We hung around in every game, we didn’t get blown out by any of them. We can hang our hat on that. We didn’t play our best baseball by any means.

“If we would have played our best baseball and lost every game, I would have told you it was going to be a tough stretch ahead. We played probably our worst baseball down the stretch and we were in almost every single game we played. It’s going to turn the corner, we believe it’s going to turn the corner. There’s still a lot of time left; we’re going to be all right.”

Austin Pruitt pitched well for the Rays against Cleveland ace Corey Kluber, going six innings and allowing three runs. Pruitt has drawn the tough assignment for the Rays as of late. It was his third straight start against a member of the AL All-Star team (Dallas Keuchel, Chris Sale and Kluber).

“It’s exciting that that stretch is now done,” Pruitt said. “Those dudes were pitching pretty good. But I’m just excited to get back out there.

“Offense struggling or not, it doesn’t really affect me as much. Those dudes, they make your job out there a little bit tougher. They put together some good at bats.”

Souza had been hitless in his last 13 at bats before hitting his home run. It was his 25th homer and his 71st RBI.

"Some of these losses it’s tough to find positives from. I think we can pull multiple positives from this loss, that

Hechavarriathrows a Cleveland runner out./ANDREW J. KRAMER

Hechavarria throws a Cleveland runner out./ANDREW J. KRAMER

doesn’t mean much because it’s about winning games and we didn’t. The thought is to pull some positives and carry it over to the series against Toronto. Austin Pruitt was outstanding in his efforts. Steven Souza Jr. just a tremendous play out in right and the big home run. It’s amazing watching the way Souza is performing this year. You could argue he’s probably been the most consistent, outstanding player of the season as far as model of consistency and how far he’s come from his first year, so really excited about that.”

The Rays used four relief pitchers, and three of them didn't give up a run. The exception was Hunter, who gave up the homer to Jackson after a nine-pitch at bat. It was only his second run allowed in his last 21 appearances since June 21.

“Nobody likes to lose,” Hunter said. “It’s one of those things. Sometimes you say you tip your cap to the other guy. That’s the direction we’re going to go, with a home run to Austin Jackson. He pulled his hands in. That was 96-97 off the plate and he clipped it. I’m probably going to throw that pitch a couple hundred more times and that result will be far from happening. You give credit where credit is due. He sucked his hands in and got the barrel to the ball.”

The Rays had never had a homestand quite this bad with five shuouts and six games with four hits or fewer.

“We’ve found out that we have to play better,” Cash said of the home stand. “We were hoping to find out a little more. We don’t have the time to sit and dwell on it. We have to move past it quickly because every game is a pivotal swing game and we have to take advantage of going and playing good baseball. But to answer your question, no we needed to play better over that stretch and we did not. It doesn’t burn us or kill us, but we definitely have to make up for it now.”

Perhaps it will be better on the road. The Rays start Jake Odorizzi tonight against Nick Tepesch. Game time is 7:07 in Toronto.

Sucre scores for the Rays in the third inning./ANDREW J. KRAMER

Sucre scores for the Rays in the third inning./ANDREW J. KRAMER

 

 

 

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