Rays closer to falling from playoff contention

by Gary Shelton on July 30, 2022

in general

Saturday, 4 a.m.

They are playing as if they were not playoff contenders. Soon, they might not be.

The Tampa Bay Rays, in their worst slump of the season, dropped another game Friday night. That's not news -- the Rays have dropped a lot of games lately. But this one was 4-1 to Cleveland, meaning the Guardians moved to within 1 1/2 games of the Rays and the final playoff spot.

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The Rays, 2-6 since the all-star break, challenged for one inning in this one, scoring once and loading the bases. But Shane Bieber worked his way out of trouble and settled in. The Rays got only three hits and no runs after that first inning.

"He didn’t have a feel for the strike zone in the first, and we weren’t’t able to capitalize and  take advantage," said Rays' manager Kevin Cash. "After that, he locked it in. He threw the fastball where he wanted and the breaking ball certainly where he wanted."

The Rays' offensive funk continued. They've scored more than three runs only twice in their eight-game stumble, and they've hit .228 as a team. In their last eight games, they've scored just 16 runs; they have one in their last 18 innings.

The way they are playing now, they do not look like a post-season team. Consider this: Four of their six hits Friday night came from Josh Lowe (hitting .213 on the season) and Yu Chang (hitting .198).

So what can get this team going?

"If I had the answer, we would have already provided it," Cash said. "Stay positive. Trust the guys we’re going to get out of this. We have to get out of it together. It’s not one guy. It’s not one guy trying  to do too much. It’s got to be a collective approach that we’re capable  of putting some more pressure on pitchers and hopefully getting some results."

Rays' starter Jeffry Springs went five innings and gave up three runs, which these days is hard for the Rays to overcome. For Cleveland, Jose Ramirez homered and drove in three runs.

The Rays try again today at 1:10 p.m. at Tropicana Field. Corey Kluber will start for the Rays against Zach Plesac.

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