Rays struggle once again at Tropicana Field

by Gary Shelton on June 16, 2019 · 0 comments

in general, Tampa Bay Rays

Diaz had a three-run homer for Rays./CHUCK MULLER

Sunday, 4 a.m.

Somewhere in the grandstands, the ghosts of Chuck LaMar lives  on.

In the power alleys lies the demon of Vince Naimoli, still hungry. A beast who looks something like Ben Grieve lurks beyond the outfield. The echoes of Wilson Alvarez must continue to haunt the place.

How else can you explain the drag that Tropicana Field still has on these Tampa Bay Rays?

The Rays, who are a terror away from this joint, continue to be a pedestrian, run-of-the-mill team when at home. They are 19-18 at home, and they have lost four of

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Morton lost for the first time since last August./CHUCK MULLER

their last five games there. No other team in baseball has been so successful on the road only to fare so poorly at home.

The latest loss was a 5-3 decision to the Anaheim Angels. The Rays have now given up 24 runs in their last five games.

“Baseball is such a weird game at times," said centerfielder Keven Kiermaier. "It’s not like we change up anything we do on the road compared to at home. Last year,

Cash wants better results at home./CHUCK MULLER

we had a great stretch here at home and this year we still have time to turn that around. I don’t have an answer to that. I don’t have an explanation. It’s just one of those crazy stats in the baseball world that you don’t really know how to answer.

"We don’t change our ways whether we are playing in New York, Boston, Anaheim, Oakland or here. We are all going to go out there and play to our potential and try to win ballgames. We haven’t won at the pace we did at home last year. That’s baseball. We enjoy playing here. I know guys enjoy hitting here and going through their normal routines. It’s always nice playing at home. We know we have to play better all-around at home or on the road. That’s a tough thing to answer because I don’t think anyone has an answer. It is what it is.”

For the third straight game, the Rays dug themselves an early hole. This time, it was 3-0 after Brian Goodwin doubled in the second and scored on David Fletcher's home run.

It was enough to beat Charlie Morton, who hadn't lost a game since last August. He had been 8-0 entering Saturday's game.

“I didn’t think my best stuff, my best pitches came until the last few innings," Morton said. "Those kinds of games – you make a couple of mistakes and you pay for them. They put some really good swings on those pitches.”

The three runs of the Rays came on a home run by Yandy Diaz in the sixth.

“He’s had a good season," Rays' manager Kevin Cash said. "You take away the 10 days where he had to go on the IL for the hand injury, he’s been right in the middle of everything we’ve done. We got a guy who we were confident was going to hit the ball really hard and he’s done that. He hits the ball really hard and today he picked us up and got us close, but we fell a little short.”

When the Rays were going well, they were the team that often jumped to an early lead. Now,it seems to be going the opposite way.

“It’s always nice to score early and often," Kiermaier said. "With the pace that we were doing at earlier in the year was honestly unlike anything that I had been a part of before. At some point that was going to slow down because it’s hard to score runs in this league anyway. We still have some guys swinging the bats really well, but it just seemed like we scored one or two runs every 1st inning there for the first four or five weeks of the season and that was awesome, but being realistic with how this game goes, you knew it would slow down.

"It’s ok – that’s why you play nine innings. That’s what it’s all about. We love to score early and often, but if it was that easy, everyone would do it. It’s about producing quality at-bats from the first pitch and keep playing until that last out is made.”

The Rays try to salvage a split of their series against Anaheim when the teams play today at Tropicana Field. The game begins at 1:05 p.m. Ryan Stanek opens for the Rays against Griffin Channing.

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