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Rays continue to struggle against lefties



Miller ST. PETERSBURG — If the Rays are going to be all right, they're going to have to do better against left-handers.

Tuesday, Oakland's Dallas Braden was the latest lefty to beat them, as they fell 8-1 to an A's team that had lost six straight, and looked bad in doing so. (View photo gallery)

They're 16-15 against left-handed starters, compared to 42-26 against right-handers; they're hitting nearly 20 points lower against lefties overall, .247 vs. .264; and they're going to see more lefties as long as they continue to struggle.

Manager Joe Maddon said he is confident they have the hitters in the clubhouse to correct the imbalance. Executive vice president Andrew Friedman — who met with Maddon for nearly 45 minutes after the game, though supposedly about the pending activation of shortstop Jason Bartlett — will have to decide soon, with the July 31 nonwaiver trading deadline looming, if they need outside help.

"We talk about stuff all the time," Maddon said afterward. "And we've talked about that for a long time. We've talked about a whole bunch of things. And we're always trying to make it better. Those are part of our normal daily conversations. And we'll see."

The Rays' (58-41) optimal lineup is predominantly left-handed, and it's typical for left-handed hitters, even everyday players such as Akinori Iwamura, Carl Crawford and Carlos Pena, to not do as well against lefties. (Plus, they usually sit Cliff Floyd and Eric Hinske against lefties.)

But more concerning is that some of their top right-handers, such as B.J. Upton and Evan Longoria, also have struggled. Plus, Jonny Gomes — whose primary job is to hit lefties — hasn't done much yet, with a .205 average. And it's yet another reason why they miss Bartlett, who has a .324 average against lefties.

--Marc Topkin, Times Staff Writer

(Pictured: Trever Miller. Times photo -- James Borchuck. Click to enlarge.)

[Last modified: Monday, December 21, 2009 12:37am]


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