Thursday, April 19, 2018
Tampa Bay Rays

Do Rays, Corey Dickerson have a 'second wind'?

ST. PETERSBURG — There was the time in late May when Corey Dickerson hit a ball that bounced in front of the plate, swatted it for a double. He hit anything that moved wherever it moved. He was that good.

Now the Rays All-Star, once the American League leader in batting and hits, is mired in serious muck, as is his team, despite a 3-0 win Sunday. Dickerson went hitless in the weekend series against Seattle. His average has dropped from .330 on June 26 to .282 and he's hitting .167 (12 for 72) in August and .206 since the All-Star break.

"I would say right now that as hot as he got, he might be just that cold," Rays manager Kevin Cash said Friday night. "But we're optimistic that he'll get back up there."

The Rays need a Dickerson return to what was shaping up as a career year. Sunday, at least, they refused to waste the best pitching performance of Blake Snell's career (seven innings, no runs) as Kevin Kiermaier and Adeiny Hechavarria homered. But it's going to take a lot more than that.

The Rays somehow remain on the edge of the AL wild-card race despite losing seven of their last nine and 12 of their last 16. It's too late, if you ask me. And a wretched stretch of punchless offense is the culprit.

"Every team goes through it," Dickerson said Friday. "We just had terrible timing when it happened. But we're still floating around there. It's not the end of the world. We can still make a run. We still have plenty of time."

Really?

Dickerson's woes aren't the Rays' only problem. You could line up Rays hitting struggles like prized hogs at the state fair. Evan Longoria is batting .177 in his last 17 games. Logan Morrison has hit just three home runs in his last 30 games. Brad Miller's blinding awfulness (2 for his last 32, .187 this season) is made all the more glaring since Tim Beckham was shipped to Baltimore and became The Whammer.

All this has doomed the Rays to a 10-21 record since July 19. They've wasted some marvelous pitching along the way, from both the starters and the currently unhittable bullpen. Rays starting pitchers have thrown to a 3.40 ERA in August and the bullpen has a 2.02 ERA in the same span. But the Rays are just 7-12 in August. Unacceptable.

Back to Dickerson. He isn't chasing pitches, though he struck out on one Sunday. "We're just missing pitches we should hit and I think Corey is right in that boat," Cash said.

So are a lot of Rays.

Anyway, Dickerson was turning bad pitches into base hits for half a season. Maybe he ought to start swinging at bouncers again.

"If the season ended today, I can't say it would be a bad year," Dickerson said. "If anybody really dug into the numbers, everything in my offensive game has been better. Swinging inside the zone, not swinging at pitches outside the zone as much, seeing more pitches every at-bat. I think I've hit 15, 20 balls harder than I've hit any other month and only two of them have fallen.

"Also, I haven't felt as good as I had earlier. I admit that. It's just a long season. It's having 500 at-bats, going through ups and downs. It's an exhausting game, and you have to be physically and mentally bringing it every day. Sometimes slumps come. Hopefully you get out of them."

Dickerson pointed to Astros second baseman Jose Altuve, the runaway AL batting leader at .362. Once upon a time, Dickerson was ahead of Altuve in batting and hits. Dickerson is still eighth in hits with 135. Altuve has 171.

"Altuve started the season real slow," Dickerson said. "Look at him now. It's about what have you done for me right now. That's the way the game is. If I was doing the same thing I was doing the first half, I'd be at 200 hits or something crazy. We'll all hit our second wind. Last year, I had a great end of the year. What I'm going to try to do is finish as strong as possible."

Time for a second wind. The Rays are nearly out of air.

Contact Martin Fennelly at [email protected] or (813) 731-8029. Follow @mjfennelly

Comments
The Mallex Smith effect can take effect for Rays

The Mallex Smith effect can take effect for Rays

ST. PETERSBURG — Mallex Smith has style.Effervescent personality. Pop culture hipness. Sense of fashion with accoutrements.Now the Rays are going to find out if he has game.More specifically, enough game to be a front-line outfielder, even an i...
Updated: 7 hours ago
Rays journal: Whew. Alex Colome gets the job done

Rays journal: Whew. Alex Colome gets the job done

ST. PETERSBURG — In the end, Alex Colome got the three outs to save the game, the day and the stomach linings of his bosses from further deterioration, so in theory that should be what mattered most Wednesday.And the fact that he was smiling in...
Published: 04/18/18
Marc Topkin’s takeaways from Rays’ 4-2 Wednesday win

Marc Topkin’s takeaways from Rays’ 4-2 Wednesday win

Alex Colome's ninth-inning dramatics took the focus, but the work of newly corn-rowed RHP Chaz Roe in the seventh (three Ks) and LHP Jose Alvarado (one K, two infield outs) was textbook, and showed how the bullpen can work.RELATED: Whew. Alex Colome ...
Published: 04/18/18
Anonymous Rays rally to beat Rangers 4-2, win series

Anonymous Rays rally to beat Rangers 4-2, win series

ST. PETERSBURG — Even before they lost several of the hitters they were relying most on to injuries, the Rays did not exactly have a lineup built on intimidation.Their own owner said opening day that he expected them to rank among the least pro...
Published: 04/18/18
Rays Baldelli makes a key catch

Rays Baldelli makes a key catch

Rays coach Rocco Baldelli was all smiles Wednesday morning, happy to play a role through social media in reuniting a lost dog and its owner."I feel really good about how this worked out," Baldelli said.REUNITED! Thank you everyone for spreading the w...
Published: 04/18/18
For starters: Rays vs. Rangers, with Faria on the hill

For starters: Rays vs. Rangers, with Faria on the hill

UPDATE, 12:01: Cash said Brad Miller (groin) got through his rehab game with the Stone Crabs well last night playing first and will play second tonight, with the likely plan to be off Thursday and rejoin the Rays Friday. … With 3B Matt Duffy on...
Published: 04/18/18
Rays, Chirinos fall to Rangers, 7-2

Rays, Chirinos fall to Rangers, 7-2

ST. PETERSBURG — For three outings, rookie Yonny Chirinos had been stellar in making a case to join the Rays' starting rotation, not allowing a single run in the first 141/3 innings of his major-league career.That perfection came to an inevitab...
Published: 04/17/18
Updated: 04/18/18
Rays journal: Rays play it safe, put Matt Duffy on DL with hamstring injury

Rays journal: Rays play it safe, put Matt Duffy on DL with hamstring injury

ST. PETERSBURG — Matt Duffy is back on the disabled list.The Rays third baseman, who missed all of last season with an Achilles tendon injury, was placed on the 10-day disabled list Tuesday after leaving Monday's game in the first inning with t...
Published: 04/17/18
Rays takeaways: Just one bad outing, a rangey outfield, a sharp ex-Ray

Rays takeaways: Just one bad outing, a rangey outfield, a sharp ex-Ray

Yonny Chirinos may still be an answer as the Rays look to fill out their rotation. He probably stayed in a little too long Tuesday, trailing 2-1 entering the fifth but giving up four runs the rest of the way. Bad starts caught up to him in the first,...
Published: 04/17/18
Rays-Rangers lineup: Matt Duffy to DL, Brandon Snyder up

Rays-Rangers lineup: Matt Duffy to DL, Brandon Snyder up

Greetings from Tropicana Field, where another day brings another round of injury-related transactions for the Rays.Third baseman Matt Duffy, who left Monday's game with tightness in his right hamstring, has been placed on the 10-day disabled list, ta...
Published: 04/17/18