Rays lose third in a row after a sloppy sixth inning

by Gary Shelton on July 23, 2017 · 6 comments

in general, Tampa Bay Rays

Archer pitched well, but three unearned runs did him in./CARMEN MANDATO

Archer pitched well, but three unearned runs did him in./CARMEN MANDATO

Sunday, 2 a.m.

At a time the Tampa Bay Rays need to be inserting themselves squarely in the division race, the team is going in the wrong direction.

The Rays lost their third straight game Saturday night, falling 4-3 to the Texas Rangers. The loss dropped the Rays to a percentage point behind the New York Yankees and into third place in the AL East.

Tampa Bay surrendered three unearned runs in the sixth inning after an error by Mallex Smith. Two wild pitches by pitcher Chris Archer didn't help.

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Mallex Smith's dropped fly ball led to three unearned runs for the Rangers./CARMEN MANDATO

Mallex Smith's dropped fly ball led to three unearned runs for the Rangers./CARMEN MANDATO

The Rays held a 3-0 lead Saturday night, the third straight night they have blown a lead. On the season, Tampa Bay has blown a league-leading 30 leads.

“It came down to basically one play,” Rays' manager Kevin Cash said. “I thought Arch was really good against a good lineup and a lineup that battles him really well. For whatever reason, they did the same thing in Texas. I thought he got the better of them. We just unfortunately couldn’t make a play behind him. Sometimes that’s the way it goes, but it’s definitely a tough pill to swallow.

“I like the way that the guys battled off Cashner. He was really good. Had a good fastball through the zone and mixed in enough offspeed, but the fastball was the

Souza congratulated after his RBI single./CARMEN MANDATO

Souza congratulated after his RBI single./CARMEN MANDATO

key. It seems like back-to-back nights with Darvish and Cashner, we’ve seen the fastball play really strong for them. I liked the at-bats there at the end. Pete Bourjos found a hole playing no-doubles deep. We went down to the very end there, we just couldn’t double up hits.”

The Rays had only seven hits, but the Rangers had only five, three by shortstop Elvin Andrus.

Archer pitched seven innings and allowed just four hits and one earned run.

“He had as good a fastball command as we’ve seen in a while,” Cash said. “I thought his changeup was a really big pitch for him, not so much to put guys away with it, but it was another weapon that he was able to show. He threw some really good changeups. Got a couple of outs with it, but it was more swing-and-miss with the foul ball, but when you introduce that third pitch with the two that he’s already featuring, he becomes that much more dynamic.”

Hechevarria scores on Longoria's single./CARMEN MANDATO

Hechavarria scores on Longoria's single./CARMEN MANDATO

Said Archer: “I never say that I’m on cruise control because in the big leagues anything can happen at any moment, but I was able to control the game for the most part up until the 6th inning whenever I got two outs. It happens. I have to be a little bit better and after things go down, I can’t just walk the guy on four pitches. I have to be better than that. I can’t throw two wild pitches. There are areas where I could have been better.”

Smith felt he was in good position to make the catch in the sixth.

“I just shanked it,” Smith said. “Just a bad play, that’s about it. I was right there up under it and I just missed it.”

It was, Smith said, a tough feeling.

“Especially when you lose by one when the guy is throwing his butt off. It’s pretty terrible.”

“I looked at (Archer) and shook my head. We kind of understand. We were on the same page with it. I knew that play needed to be made. Point blank period.”

Archer just shrugged.

“We talked about it,” Archer said. “I’ve told him tomorrow he has an opportunity to make plays, get a couple knocks, steal a couple bags. Just focus on that.”

For the Rays, Evan Longoria had two hits and two RBI.

The Rays close out their series tonight against the Rangers seeking to avoid their first sweep by the other team at the Trop this season. Jake Odorizzi pitches against Tyson Ross in the 1:10 p.m. game.

Beckham looks on with frustrations as the Rays lose another./CARMEN MANDATO

Beckham looks on with frustrations as the Rays lose another./CARMEN MANDATO

 

 

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{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

Larry Beller July 23, 2017 at 9:55 am

I agree with Archer. He can’t let a run score due to wild pitches. He really does have to be better than that. What has happened to the offense? The Rays aren’t going anywhere if they are only going to score 3 runs a game.

Reply

Gary Shelton July 23, 2017 at 10:03 am

I had an interesting conversation with Colby Rasmus before he left the team due to his injuries. I suggested the Rays were a good-hitting team. He answered “a good hitting fastball team.” I think pitchers who spin it give the Rays a harder time. Of course, Darvish was fastball-led. But the pitching — especially against other team’s bullpens — is like a light with a short in it.

I agree that Archer can’t throw wild pitches, but outfielders can’t drop routine flies, either. A shame to waste that pitching effort.

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Larry Beller July 23, 2017 at 6:43 pm

So you are saying the loss was a team effort and that is absolutely correct. The point I’m trying to make is that Archer, the guy who was once considered the Ace of the staff, has to come up big and overcome that error or at least minimize the damage. I like Archer a lot but he does seem to come up short all too often when the team needs him the most. Some of it is bad luck like yesterday or lack of hitting support but I think if we analyzed his results it would show he is not that effective after the 5th inning. That’s not good for a guy who has the kind of stuff he does and can throw 95+.

It’s too bad Colby Rasmus left the team but that was a great comment he made. It’s very obvious that the Rays swing and miss at a lot breaking of pitches out of the zone and unless the breaking pitch comes in flat they collectively have problems hitting those pitches. Right now Dickerson is swinging at everything and pitchers are figuring out there is no need to throw him anything in the strike zone as a result. Maybe the Rays are just a .500 team after all.

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Gary Shelton July 24, 2017 at 12:26 am

I absolutely think it was a team effort. No question. But if you want to rank the bad plays, Smith’s was worse. Without it, there is only so much damage from those particular wild pitches.

Still, a starting pitcher — a two-time all-star — has to reach inside and limit the damage. Archer is a pitcher whose record has never matched his stuff. Maybe it never will. But the point isn’t to pile up strikeouts; the point is the win the darned game. Right?

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Larry Beller July 24, 2017 at 4:05 am

I would trade strikeouts for wins any day.

Gary Shelton July 24, 2017 at 4:55 pm

Absolutely.

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