Thursday, December 14, 2017
Tampa Bay Rays

Rays can't get away with any mistakes in loss to Red Sox

BOSTON — In losing 21 of 24, the Rays are going through a stretch where it seems like every mistake they make haunts them.

"That is a sign," manager Kevin Cash, "of when it's not going well."

Saturday, there were two critical ones that factored heavily in the 4-1 loss to the Red Sox. Which one was worse doesn't really matter.

In the fourth inning, leading 1-0, LHP Matt Moore walked Dustin Pedroia on a full count, then, ahead 0-and-2, left a fastball that was supposed to be inside over the plate, and Xander Bogaerts knocked it over the Green Monster.

"I wasn't able to get the ball (where) I'd like to," Moore said. "I wound up leaving that pitch right there. … That was just another mistake."

Then in the fifth, after Sandy Leon reached on a ball 3B Evan Longoria atypically couldn't make a play on, CF Steven Souza botched a Mookie Betts drive he tracked to the wall. Pedroia followed with a two-run single that made it 4-1 and, given the Rays' lack of offense, pretty much over.

"I felt like I did everything right except took my eye off the ball at the last second," Souza said. "Why it was, I don't know. Maybe find the wall, maybe pick up the runner. But I took my eye off the ball, and it really in the end cost us the game."

MORE MOORE: Moore actually had a good outing, allowing two earned runs while working six-plus innings for a career-best seventh straight start.

"Look at his body of work the past month, he's been really strong for us and that did not change today, and I don't see why it's not more on the upswing going forward," Cash said. "His fastball velocity was good again today."

Moore said there was some good and bad, but bottom line, "the club needed me to pitch better than I did today."

FOR STARTERS: The Rays set their post-All-Star break rotation, with RHP Chris Archer facing the Orioles on Friday, followed by Moore and RHP Jake Odorizzi. That provides extra rest, 11 days total, for struggling LHP Drew Smyly, who faces the Rockies July 18, and rookie LHP Blake Snell, who will follow as the Rays try to limit his innings. RHP Matt Andriese, who was stretched to three innings Wednesday, will remain in the bullpen for now, Cash said, though available to start.

REHAB REPORT: OF Kevin Kiermaier (left hand fracture) went through another full workout Saturday and remains on track to play rehab games this week, targeting a Friday return.

"He's really wanting to get back; I think he wants to play (Saturday)," Cash said. "In fairness to KK, as eager as he is to get back, we want him back when he's ready, his timing's ready. Athletically he seems to be ready. The hand has not been an issue whatsoever."

With the potential for rain to wipe out today's pregame work, the Rays haven't set a plan, but Kiermaier may play with the Gulf Coast League team Monday, take live batting against RHPs Brad Boxberger (oblique strain) and Chase Whitley (Tommy John surgery) Tuesday then play for the advanced Class A Stone Crabs Wednesday and Thursday, all in Port Charlotte.

INF/DH Steve Pearce (hamstring) is also slated to hit Tuesday against Boxberger and Whitley, who threw bullpens Saturday at the Trop.

MINOR MATTERS: Three Rays prospects will play in today's All-Star Futures Game (7 p.m., MLB Network): SS Willy Adames and RHP Chih-Wei Hu for the World team, RHP Ryne Stanek for the U.S. team. … Stanek, recently promoted to Triple-A Durham, was named the Rays' top minor-league pitcher for June; Bowling Green OF David Olmedo-Barrera was the top player.

MISCELLANY: SS Brad Miller hit his 14th homer, ninth in his past 26 games. … Cash called rookie RHP Dylan Floro's two-inning outing (one hit, one walk) "a bright spot." … LHP Dana Eveland again cleared waivers and accepted an outright assignment to Durham after being DFA'd for the second time this season.

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