ST. PETERSBURG — The Rays channeled the 1960s as they dressed for their Woodstock-themed trip to Seattle on Sunday, some tossing on Afros, brown vests and psychedelic-colored shirts.
"It'd be a lot more fun if we won," Evan Longoria said.
The Rays lost again, 6-5 to the Indians in a Mother's Day matinee at Tropicana Field in front of 23,679, ending their homestand at 1-5 and putting them further in the American League East cellar. And who will be there to greet Tampa Bay (16-22) tonight in the Emerald City? 2010 Cy Young Award winner Felix Hernandez.
"I'd be lying to you if I said I wasn't a little bit stressed out," Longoria said. "Offensively we're not doing what we're capable of. The pitching staff will tell you that they're obviously not throwing the ball the way they expect to. You can't win like that. It's very simple. We're not playing the caliber of baseball right now that is winning-caliber baseball. It's just not. We've got to figure it out quick."
Tampa Bay has lost any momentum it gained from its galvanizing 5-5 trip through Chicago, Boston and New York before this homestand.
"We get well in Fenway and Yankee Stadium, and get unwell at the Trop," manager Joe Maddon said. "Which is really hard to explain."
The defeat followed a familiar formula for the week, Saturday's streak-snapping 7-1 win notwithstanding. The Rays got another short, supbar outing from one of their starters, with Chris Archer allowing four runs and four walks in five innings.
"Good stuff again, but it's the execution of the pitches that matters, too," Maddon said.
The taxed bullpen, having to shoulder a heavier load, gave up two more runs, which loomed large as the Rays made another late surge, scoring three in the eighth before pinch-hitter Ryan Hanigan struck out with the tying run 90 feet away. The Rays brought the winning run to the plate in the ninth inning in the first four losses of the homestand.
"It's been too little, too late," Longoria said.
The Rays continue to be burned on two-strike hits, this time Michael Bourn's two-run, two-out double in the second and Yan Gomes' solo homer in the sixth on Archer's 100th and final pitch.
"We've just been one pitch away or one hit away," Maddon said. "We're just coming up a click short."
Longoria said the Rays aren't playing bad baseball but he thinks they've gotten "lucky" that other teams in the division aren't hot, so "we're able to hang around," 51/2 games out of first.
He said he has spent a lot of nights staying up, thinking about what they have to do to turn it around.
"Haven't figured it out yet, so hopefully soon," Longoria said. "We're a playoff-caliber team, and it's just a matter of starting to believe that again."
As the Rays packed for the trip, Maddon — the eternal optimist — said he hoped his team would keep the spirit of their funky outfits for their trip, dubbed "7 Days of Peace & Baseball," even as the trip began with a 51/2-hour flight and matchups against King Felix and Hisashi Iwakuma loomed.
"The good part is we'll be dressed appropriately," Maddon said. "I want to make sure the guys have a good time. It's no time to get panicky, down or anything like that. Just keep playing the game hard and it comes back to you."