Time running out on Rays’ playoff hopes

by Gary Shelton on September 20, 2017 · 0 comments

in general, Tampa Bay Rays

Miller watches his home run disappear in the sixth./JEFFREY S. KING

Miller watches his home run disappear in the sixth./JEFFREY S. KING

Wednesday, 3 a.m.

The season has turned into a countdown. For the Tampa Bay Rays, the fuse has officially been lit.

Only 11 games remain in the 2017 season, and the Rays – 5 ½ games back — seem to making no dent in their deficit. Once again, the Rays' bats failed them Tuesday night, as they were one-hit by the Chicago Cubs in a 2-1 loss in what was their fourth loss in five games.

“I don't know what everyone else did,” manager Kevin Cash said. “In fairness, we're a very, very long shot. We were saying before the game that we need to win a bunch of games in a row. We did not do that tonight. We can start tomorrow, but we need a lot of things to go our way and other teams need  for things to go really sour quickly for them. It's long odds, no doubt.”

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ARcher allowed just four hits, but gave up two runs./JEFFREY S. KING

Archer allowed just four hits, but gave up two runs./JEFFREY S. KING

The Rays played in front of an obviously pro-Chicago crowd. There were 25,046 fans, and most of them seemed to be pulling for the Cubs.

Even as Chris Archer tried to discuss his effort, he added: “Having 25,000 Chicago Cubs fans wasn't fun, either.”

Archer shook his head.

“It's weird,” he said. “I didn't know we had that many people from Chicago, Illinois, or the Midwest area in Tampa. I guess we do. It was just weird for their players to come out and get announced and get so much love. It was strange. It felt like being in Citi

Jennings was strong in relief./JEFFREY S. KING

Jennings was strong in relief./JEFFREY S. KING

Field playing the Yankees, honestly. I'm not being critical. It's just crazy. There was so much royal blue out there. When Willson Contraras ran out to warm up the pitcher, he got a standing O. I've been here for however long and i've seen a lot of really good players come, and iv'e never seen anyone get as much love we they ran out of the dugout to warm up. It was kind of crazy.

“I get it. A lot of people are transplants from otther areas. A lot of people love Joe Maddon, which they should. It was definitely more of a road environment tonight.”

The Rays' only hit was a sixth-inning homer by Brad Miller. Former Rays farmhand Mike Montgomery kept the Rays off-balance otherwise.

“Wow,” said Cubs' manager Joe Maddon. “That's the best I've seen him since he's been here.”

Archer was good, too. He gave up only two runs and only four hits through six innings, and admitted he felt stronger than he has on the mound in a while. But to win this game, he would have to have shut out the Cubs.

"It was good to see Arch bounce back," Cash said. "He's had some rough starts here."

#11 Adeiny Hechavarria plying defense (1 of 1)

Hechavarria flips to second for the force-out./JEFFREY S. KING

Montgomery had a no-hitter through 5 1/3 innings.

“He was getting a few calls that were pretty exceptionally off,” Souza said of Montgomery. “He had his changeup going pretty well today.”

Said Maddon: “I don't think he used his changeup very much.”

The Rays play their final game of the brief Cubs' series tonight at 7:10 p.m. Blake Snell throws against Jon Lester.

Kiermaier played well in centerfield again./JEFFREY S. KING

Kiermaier played well in centerfield again./JEFFREY S. KING

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