Watch out for falling Rays; Jays win again

by Gary Shelton on July 4, 2021

in general

Kiermaier drove in two runs for Rays./JEFFREY S. KING

Sunday, 4 a.m.

The way things are going, no one can be quite sure if the Tampa Bay Rays are chasing the Boston Red Sox ... or the Baltimore Orioles.

The suddenly ordinary Rays, who haven't been good since May, took another one in the teeth Saturday afternoon. They lost their fifth straight game, this one a 6-3 loss to Toronto, in which they weren't good enough pitching wise, hitting wise or defensively.

The Rays were tied at 1-1 in the sixth inning, but caved in against the Blue Jays who scored five runs on four hits and an error to continue the Rays stumble.

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"Frustration is a good word," said Rays' manager Kevin Cash. "We are frustrated. These guys set a pretty high bar for themselves. They expect to win. On top of that , they expect to be in every game. We all do. There have been some games that we’re not really in. We have not played to our level that we’ve set here for quite some time."

The thing is, the Rays keep reminding everyone they're a pretty good team, but they haven't played like it. In their last 16 games, they've had losing streaks of seven games and five games. During the stretch, the team ERA has soared and the offense is hitting .229 (which would be a franchise low) and .239 with runners in scoring position. The Rays were one-of-seven with runners in scoring position on Saturday.

They haven't hit much in that streak, and their pitching has been off. Saturday, a poorly thrown ball with the bases loaded by Joey Wendle broke the 1-1 tie.

"It is strange," Cash said. "I know Joey had a tough day today. I would bet that with any player in baseball that I’ve known over the last couple of years, when the game is on the line I want the ball hit to Joey. I think he’s one of the best defensive infielders in baseball."

Shane McClanahan started for the Rays and pitched well into the fifth, but he ran into a jam with a double and a walk and was pulled.

The Rays were behind 6-1 in the ninth when Kevin Kiermaier drove in two runs with a single.

In all, a handful of little mistakes seemed to cost the Rays.

"At the end of the day, when good teams start to go sideways a little bit, that starts to happen," Cash said. "Everything gets magnified. A couple of breaks that were going your way are no longer there for you.There's no finger pointing."

The Rays play the Blue Jays again today in Buffalo at 1:07 p.m. Tampa Bay will start Ryan Yarbrough against Toronto's Robbie Ray.

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