Sunday, February 18, 2018
Tampa Bay Rays

Leaving home almost a relief to slumping Rays

ST. PETERSBURG — Well, the Rays scored Sunday, so that's a step in the right direction, right?

The scoreless streak ended at 20 innings with a third-inning RBI single by Evan Longoria, capping the number of times the Rays were shut out during the homestand at five.

But it did little to win a ballgame, which the Rays lost 4-3 to the Indians in front of a Tropicana Field crowd of 17,775.

Now on to Toronto for a change of scenery and, perhaps, a change of fortune.

"Hopefully the opposite of what it is going on right now," tonight's starter Jake Odorizzi said. "We're struggling, but this can't be turned around in four games (for us) to be perfectly all right."

Sunday's loss was the seventh during the nine-game homestand and dropped the Rays to 59-60, their first time under .500 since June 7. It also dropped them two games out of the second wild-card spot.

Sunday's game finished a 17-game stretch in which the Rays played teams either in first place or holding a wild-card spot. They went 6-11.

The Rays split the first eight at New York and Houston then bottomed out once they returned home. The offense, or lack of it, was the culprit.

They scored 1.22 runs per game during the homestand — their fewest during any three-series homestand in team history.

They scored 11 runs during the nine games, which were the fewest over a nine-game stretch in the majors since the Indians scored 11 in August 2012.

Longoria's run-scoring single was the Rays' third hit that inning, marking the only time during the homestand they had three hits in one inning and the first time they turned that trick since Aug. 1 in Houston.

"You can't place the blame solely on the hitters for this tough stretch," Odorizzi said. "We each have our downfalls throughout the year as a staff, hitting, defense, and you don't see one side blame the other side.

So that's what I think a good team is: weather the storm together. There's no panic. We want to get to the win column, but we don't need guys pushing and doing more than they should."

The Indians scored the winning run Sunday in the eighth when Austin Jackson homered off Tommy Hunter, who is the Rays' most reliable reliever.

Steven Souza Jr.'s tying two-run homer in the sixth against Corey Kluber was the Rays' last hit of the day.

When asked for his level of frustration afterward, manager Kevin Cash said, "I'm frustrated for the guys. Look, the effort level hasn't changed. They're doing everything that they can to get out of this to a man.

"It's very easy to say take this guy out, flip-flop the lineups. We're talking about nine guys who at one time have scuffled. It's team frustration. I'd be a lot more frustrated if the effort level changed or we were just having poor, poor at-bats. We're getting pitched really tough, and we're missing some of the pitches we handled early on. That could quickly change with a couple of good innings here and there."

Souza, who said after Saturday's loss that he doesn't have a sense that anyone is pressing, was asked the same question.

"Anytime you lose it's frustrating," he said.

"Just a bunch of competitors in here. I think everybody is trying to do their best right now trying to turn it around, and I really appreciate that and admire that. We're all professionals in here, and that's what I love about this team. This was a tough loss, but we've had some tough losses and we come to the park and we expect to turn it around that day. We're going to go to Toronto and expect to turn it around" tonight.

     
           
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