Rays’ bats going silent at the wrong time of year

by Gary Shelton on September 20, 2021

in general

Zunino had three of the Rays' hits./CHUCK MULLER

Monday, 3 a.m.

Is it too late to get nervous? Or, perhaps, is it right on time?

The stumbling Tampa Bay Rays still have enough of a lead in the AL East race to win it. On the other hand, nerves are always possible for a Rays' fan, who not only have to worry about a dwindling division lead, they have to worry about momentum as they enter the post-season.

The Rays lost again Sunday, falling 2-0 to the Detroit Tigers. It was the team's seventh loss in its last 11 games. The team is 8-10 in September, and it's division lead is down to 6 1/2 games over the Red Sox.

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According to statistics, the Rays' offense is a very good one. They are tied for the lead (with the Astro) in the major leagues in runs scored for the season. Since acquiring Nelson Cruz on July 23, the team is averaging 6.19 runs per game.

Lately, however, the Rays have scuffled against too many pedestrian pitchers. On Sunday, they managed just four hits in suffering their 11th shutout of the season. The Rays haven't had 10 hits in nine straight games.

"(Wily) Peralta’s been on a really good run," said Rays' manager Kevin Cash. "He pitched well his previous start and he certainly pitched well today. Just a really good fastball-changeup  combination. We expanded a little, missed some pitches we were capable of hitting and missed some we weren’t. We allowed him to get really deep and their bullpen came in a did a good job of shutting us down."

Granted, the Rays miss rookie Wander Franco (who is eligible to come back Tuesday). But several other regulars are slumping, too. Ji-Man Choi is hitting .192 in September. Austin Meadows is hitting .200 in his last 12 games. Nelson Cruz is one for his last 17. Randy Arozarena was two for 13 in the four games against the Tigers.

Suddenly, the Rays are a team spinning its wheels as it gets near the finish line.

The Rays now face a crucial series at home against Toronto. Rookie Shane Baz will make his debut Monday night at 7:10 p.m. against Robbie Ray of the Blue Jays.

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