Rays’ bats are quiet in latest loss to Red Sox

by Gary Shelton on September 17, 2017 · 0 comments

in general

Kevin Kiermaier squares to bunt./STEVEN MUNCIE

Kevin Kiermaier squares to bunt./STEVEN MUNCIE

Sunday, 2 a.m.

For the Tampa Bay Rays, the timing is right to make a move in the American League wild-card race.

The performance? Not so much.

The Rays lost their third straight game, and fell to five games under .500,

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Steven Souza Jr. with a face of disbelief after striking out./STEVEN MUNCIE

Steven Souza Jr. with a face of disbelief after striking out./STEVEN MUNCIE

with a 3-1 loss to the Boston Red Sox Saturday. It's a shame, because all around them, the other teams in the wild-card race are stumbling. Texas has lost four straight, and the Orioles have lost three straight, and Seattle has lost two straight. The Rays, however, have problems of their own, and remain five and a half games out of the race.

One of the team's major problems continues to be hitting with runners in scoring

Adeiny Hechavarria has been hot for a month./STEVEN MUNCIE

Adeiny Hechavarria has been hot for a month./STEVEN MUNCIE

position. The Rays were 0-for-4 on Saturday, and over their last eight games, they're hitting .091 with runners in scoring position.

Perhaps that helps to explain why the Rays have dropped seven of their last nine games.

Alex Cobb started for the Rays, but he lasted only 5 2/3 innings. He seemed frustrated by a balk called on him in the fifth.

“I heard what he was saying to me, but it doesn’t make sense what he was saying to me,” Cobb said. “I’ve made that move, however many times I’ve picked up my shoe, it’s the same move. If there is something illegal about it, I’ve never heard anything about it before. I’m just throwing to first (base). It was an irrelevant play. I threw the ball back to first [base] and he was safe back. Nothing happened. To make something out of a nothing play is a little ridiculous to me.

“I understand if he sees something he’s naturally going to go ahead and call it. A lot of times umpires will come to you in between innings or will tell the catcher, ‘hey, make sure he does whatever it is that is in question so I don’t have to call him.’ I don’t know

Alex Cobb was frustrated by the umpires./STEVEN MUNCIE

Alex Cobb was frustrated by the umpires./STEVEN MUNCIE

how many pickoff attempts I had before that, but it’s the same one. For that moment in the ballgame to go ahead and make that call, it was confusing to me.”

Said Cash: “I haven’t gone back and looked at it, but you could tell from the reaction of the guys coming up that it was a big pitch, we needed the pitch and it was unfortunate. It’s tough to say one pitch decides outcomes of games, but they can really swing the momentum one way or another, and ultimately that one did.”

The Rays managed only five hits against 17-game loser Rick Porcello.

“Story of the game was Porcello. Obviously, he was pretty tough on us. He mixes pitches well enough, but really went fastball-heavy early in the game. Established the fastball. Got us sped up and then when he needed to go soft later in the game, I think it benefited him quite a bit. Kept our bats quiet and then Reed comes in and gets a big two outs and Kimbrel does what he’s done quite a bit of what he’s done against us and the league.”

Two of the Rays' hits were by shortstop Adeiny Hechavarria, who has hit .316 over the last month.

Jake Faria pitched well in relief./STEVEN MUNCIE

Jake Faria pitched well in relief./STEVEN MUNCIE

“He’s made some really good adjustments,” Cash said. “Driving the ball to the gaps, driving the ball down the lines. A lot of comfort at the plate for him. Getting a lot of good swings. What comes first, the pitch recognition or having the success to put good swings on pitches that he can handle, it really coincides, and I think that’s allowed him to have such quality at-bats and hard contact all over the ballpark.”

Still, it wasn't enough. Porcello controlled the Rays most of the afternoon.

“I didn’t think he did anything out of the ordinary,” Souza said. “I thought he got some generous calls on the outside part of the dish. When you get some room out there to throw when a guy can locate the fastball, you can get pretty comfortable on the mound. He did a good job of elevating the ball. The four-seam, running the ball back with two-seam. When he can locate the ball and he has room to make error, he can be pretty tough to face.”

The Rays try to salvage a game from the series today. Jake Odorizzi will pitch for Tampa Bay against Eduardo Rodriguez in a game that starts at 1:10 p.m. at the Trop.

Evan Longoria jumps up to catch a ball./STEVEN MUNCIE

Evan Longoria jumps up to catch a ball./STEVEN MUNCIE

 

 

 

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