Sunday, June 17, 2018
Tampa Bay Rays

Rays’ streak ends with a dud, a 7-3 loss to A’s

OAKLAND, Calif. – The ending was, obviously, disappointing, a 7-3 loss to the A's that halted the Rays' latest winning streak at five and sent them off to Seattle with a little less buzz.

But the Rays insist that the way they're opening some games such as Thursday's — with a reliever starting and a starter relieving — remains promising.

RELATED: More Rays coverage

It seemed to be part of the problem Thursday.

Opener Ryne Stanek allowed two of the first three batters in the second to reach base, then Ryan Yarbrough, trying to tie his warmup to the game situation, entered and allowed both of them and another to score, and the Rays never climbed out of the hole that grew to 5-0 in the seventh and 7-0 in the eighth.

"I think it's worked fine,'' manager Kevin Cash said "I think it's worked really well. It was a 3-0 ball game. If we're giving up three runs or less, we're going to put ourselves in a lot of good situations to win games.''

FOLLOW the Tampa Bay Times on Twitter

The Rays have used an officially designated opener for six games — Stanek twice and Sergio Romo four times — and are 3-3.

Romo is slated for the seventh tonight against the Mariners, and — with only three established starters in their rotation — Cash said they plan to keep doing it.

"I think it alters a lineup's approach a little bit, throws a wrinkle in it,'' he said. "Is it going to continue to work? Are we going to have the same thoughts that we have right now as we do in maybe August or September? I don't know.''

For the record, neither Stanek nor Yarbrough said the arrangement factored into the results, though it's certain they would since it's part of the reason both are in the majors.

Stanek said he felt just as good in the second inning as in the 1-2-3 first, just that he left up a pitch that Khris Davis doubled, then just missed on a couple of pitches in walking Chad Pinder.

Yarbrough similarly felt he misfired on the pitch in which Stephen Piscotty doubled in two, followed by Mark Canha's RBI single, before settling in, at least until giving up two homers in the seventh.

"I think the logic is still good behind (the plan),'' Stanek said. "It's just one of those days where a little execution caught me and caught us. It still works, but the sample size is still small. … It still makes sense for me.''

Other thoughts from the matinee:

• To get to the end of May and more than one-third through the schedule with a winning record at 28-27 would be an accomplishment for the Rays, even more so given the injuries, controversial strategies, roster shuffling, schedule challenges, 1-8 and 4-13 starts, and other adversity they've endured.

"It's fantastic,'' infielder Joey Wendle said. "Just continue to win series, that's our goal. Just continue to play the way that got us to this point (24-14 since April 18, among the majors' best). It's a fun team to be on because you never know who is going to step up that day. One through nine we could do damage, or we could throw a shutout.''

"The guys should feel really good; really, really proud of themselves,'' Cash said. "There's work to be done. There's no doubt, we can always get better. We're doing a good job. We've come together as a team multiple times this year. But it's very, very early. We've got to continue to get better and play good baseball.''

• Sometimes the other pitcher really does deserve credit. Oakland's Daniel Mengden certainly did, using a funky delivery and rhythm — plus a mesmerizing mustache — to limit the Rays to three singles through the first eight innings. It was only because they rapped three straight to start the ninth, leading to their four runs, that he didn't finish, ending his scoreless streak at 25 innings and missing out on back-to-back shutouts.

• The Rays still managed to show some fight. Down 7-0 on getaway day after winning the first three of the series, they delivered the three hits to chase Mengden and scored twice, then kept battling with a walk and a two-out RBI double by Christian Arroyo to get the tying run to the on-deck circle.

"That's kind of a staple of what this club has done,'' Cash said. "We came up short, obviously, but they were still putting together good at-bats and finding ways to knock in some RBIs.''

• The final out was a fitting reminder of it not being the Rays' day. Shortstop Chad Pinder tried to make an over-the-shoulder catch of Johnny Field's pop-up, then when it bounced out of his glove, he grabbed it with his bare hand for a highlights-show play.

"I wish he would have dropped it,'' Cash said.

Comments
For starters: Rays at Yankees, looking to avoid a four-game sweep

For starters: Rays at Yankees, looking to avoid a four-game sweep

UPDATE, 11:37: Interesting decision by the Rays to move Adames to 2B today and reinstall Hechavarria at SS as he came off DL following Arroyo injury.Here is the Rays lineup:Duffy 3bBauers 1bRamos cCron dhAdames 2bHechavarria ssGomez rfRefsnyder lfFie...
Updated: 8 hours ago
Peering into the crystal baseball to see what Rays could look like in 2019

Peering into the crystal baseball to see what Rays could look like in 2019

The Rays are still talking, as they should, about playing for something this season. The reality is that almost every move they've made, going back to the end of last season, and in some cases further, has been about 2019 and beyond.Clearing out vete...
Updated: 8 hours ago
Rays lose again to Yankees, this time 4-1

Rays lose again to Yankees, this time 4-1

NEW YORK — Kevin Cash was not going to go all Lou Piniella on his Rays, raging and ripping and roaring over their latest mess, a 4-1 Saturday loss to the Yankees that didn't feel that close.Which is too bad because Piniella, the volcanic former...
Published: 06/16/18
Rays journal: Arroyo on DL, Hechavarria returns

Rays journal: Arroyo on DL, Hechavarria returns

NEW YORK — Just when it seemed like SS Adeiny Hechavarria might not play another game for the Rays, he will rejoin them on Sunday.The Rays announced after Saturday's 4-1 loss that INF Christian Arroyo was placed on the DL due to an oblique stra...
Published: 06/16/18
Marc Topkin’s takeaways from Rays-Yankees

Marc Topkin’s takeaways from Rays-Yankees

RHP Ryne Stanek did his job as the opener just fine in getting four outs on Saturday, but for the Rays' unorthodox pitching plan to work it takes a team effort. And LHP Ryan Yarbrough's inability to throw strikes quickly put them in a hole.The experi...
Published: 06/16/18
For starters: Rays at Yankees, trying to break through

For starters: Rays at Yankees, trying to break through

UPDATE, 11:49: Cash said he played Cron at 1B in an effort to get him more involved in the game, indicated he may do so again Sunday (with Bauers off vs. LH Sabathia) and should have done so more as Cron struggled. … Cash reiterated that CF Kev...
Published: 06/16/18
Rays owner Stuart Sternberg frustrated, but optimistic

Rays owner Stuart Sternberg frustrated, but optimistic

NEW YORK — So what does the boss — lowercase, of course, around here — think of this up-and-down, hot-and-cold Rays season so far? Appropriately, a variety of things.In a 30-minute chat with the Tampa Bay Times before Friday's 5-0 l...
Published: 06/15/18
Rays journal: Nathan Eovaldi pitches well against his ex-team but gets no help

Rays journal: Nathan Eovaldi pitches well against his ex-team but gets no help

NEW YORK — RHP Nathan Eovaldi made an impressive return to Yankee Stadium on Friday to face his high-powered former teammates.It's too bad he didn't get any help from his current mates, in what ended up a 5-0 Rays loss.Eovaldi was in command an...
Published: 06/15/18
Marc Topkin’s takeaways from Rays-Yankees

Marc Topkin’s takeaways from Rays-Yankees

Give RHP Nathan Eovaldi credit for not letting emotions get in the way in his return to Yankee Stadium. He said he planned to treat it as all business, despite memories and friendships and he did just that, working impressively into the eighth.The Ra...
Published: 06/15/18
For starters: Rays at Yankees, with Eovaldi back on a familiar mound

For starters: Rays at Yankees, with Eovaldi back on a familiar mound

Coming off Thursday's 4-3 loss, the Rays will face the Yankees again tonight, and they are starting a pitcher quite familiar with the Yankee Stadium mound, RHP Nathan Eovaldi.Having spent 2015 and 2016 with the Yankees until sustaining the elbow inju...
Published: 06/15/18