Saturday, December 16, 2017
Tampa Bay Rays

Listless Tampa Bay Rays lose 5-2 to Detroit Tigers

ST. PETERSBURG — First baseman Carlos Peña made the rounds in the quiet Rays clubhouse after Thursday's 5-2 loss to the Tigers, chatting one-on-one with several teammates.

Peña, seemingly always optimistic, acknowledged that Tampa Bay (40-36), which has lost four in a row and 11 of its past 16, is in the midst of "the toughest stretch we've gone through this year."

And it won't get any easier as the scuffling Rays offense is scheduled to face reigning AL Cy Young and MVP Justin Verlander tonight at Tropicana Field.

Peña's message was simple: accept the struggles but don't carry it on your back, rather persevere.

"We don't want to fold our tents. We want to take that extra step," Peña said. "It might be that extra step that gets us right where we want to be. This is a long year, and to think that we were going to go through the whole entire year without facing adversity is foolish. We've been facing a lot of adversity as a ballclub. I keep on saying it's how we handle the adversity that we're going through at this moment that is going to define us as champions or not."

As much as the Rays lineup has been hampered by injuries, including the prolonged absence of third baseman Evan Longoria, manager Joe Maddon said they need a consistent offense to dig out of it. Tampa Bay, outscored 26-8 in the four-game losing streak, picked up just four hits Thursday that were not by Brooks Conrad (who had two doubles) in front of 20,532.

Tampa Bay's Nos. 1-5 hitters went 1-for-18 Thursday, and the Rays are hitting an AL-low .222 in June.

"I think we need to start feeding off our offense a little bit and that will pick up our spirits," Maddon said. "When you're not hitting, it kind of looks bad or flat because you can't overcome any of the mistakes you're making."

Right-hander James Shields gave up a career-high 14 hits, matching a club record, but he battled in allowing four runs over 7? innings. He also committed a throwing error on a pickoff attempt in the sixth that led to a run.

"They found every single hole they could possibly find," Shields said. "It wasn't a very good day. You can compete all you want, you can go deep into the game all you want, but the bottom line is we lost the game, and I've got to do a better job."

It could have been worse had it not been for a great play by second baseman Jeff Keppinger. With two on and no outs in the third, Keppinger's made a leaping catch on a Miguel Cabrera liner, then tagged second to complete the double play. The Rays weren't as fortunate, however, in the fourth, when Peña charged a slow chopper by Quintin Berry, and in trying to throw Brennan Boesch out at home he fumbled the exchange, which allowed a run to score.

"I'm going to err on the side of aggressiveness," Peña said. "The only thing was that I erred."

Maddon said the team's "offensive malaise" includes lacking the big hit with runners in scoring position. They were 1-for-6 in the game, including Peña striking out with a runner on second (fifth inning) and third (seventh).

As a result, Tampa Bay, which was in first place June 11, is 6½ behind of the Yankees in the AL East, and two games out of last.

"We're going to make peace with this, we're going to brush off and start from scratch," Peña said. "It may be a huge climb up, but it all starts with one step."

Joe Smith can be reached at [email protected]

 
Comments
Rays’ trade silence likely a short-lived phenomenon

Rays’ trade silence likely a short-lived phenomenon

LAKE BUENA VISTA — There were a lot of reasons the Rays didn’t start the process of trading some of their bigger-name, higher-paid players at last week’s winter meetings.Most obvious was them not finding the just-right deal to move closer Alex Colome...
Updated: 3 hours ago
No big deal for Rays at winter meetings, but it’s still coming

No big deal for Rays at winter meetings, but it’s still coming

LAKE BUENA VISTA — Here’s the one thing we definitely know:Rays officials headed home from the winter meetings and back across I-4 Thursday without making deals to trade any of their bigger-name, higher-paid players. Not closer Alex Colome, not third...
Published: 12/14/17
Are Tampa Bay Rays going to make a major deal involving Alex Colome, others? Well …

Are Tampa Bay Rays going to make a major deal involving Alex Colome, others? Well …

UPDATE, 4:02: It doesn't sound like the Rays and Cardinals will be making a deal today, Derrick Goold writing for the St. Louis Post Dispatch that Cardinals execs "leave the Walt Disney Dolphin resort with good feel for what Tampa Bay would be willin...
Published: 12/14/17
Rays re-sign pitcher Jonny Venters, among 13 invited to spring training

Rays re-sign pitcher Jonny Venters, among 13 invited to spring training

LAKE BUENA VISTA — LHP Jonny Venters got as far as Triple A in September. Now the former All-Star is positioned to make it all the way back to the majors for the first time since 2012, re-signing with the Rays and headlining Thursday’s announcement o...
Published: 12/14/17
Veteran Jonny Venters, prospect Joe McCarthy among 13 Tampa Bay Rays spring invitees

Veteran Jonny Venters, prospect Joe McCarthy among 13 Tampa Bay Rays spring invitees

Inspiring veteran LHP Jonny Venters and intriguing prospect 1B/OF Joe McCarthy are among 13 players invited to major-league spring training camp with the Rays.Others coming as a result of signing minor-league contracts with invites are: RHP R.J. Alan...
Published: 12/14/17
Tampa Bay Rays lose RHP Burch Smith in Rule 5 draft, keep Nick Ciuffo

Tampa Bay Rays lose RHP Burch Smith in Rule 5 draft, keep Nick Ciuffo

The Rays lost RHP Burch Smith in Thursday's Rule 5 draft but were happy to see him get an opportunity in Kansas City.They also were pleased to hang on to C Nick Ciuffo, who was left exposed but not selected.Smith, 27, was acquired from the Padres as ...
Published: 12/14/17
Live from Disney: Winter meetings update, day 4

Live from Disney: Winter meetings update, day 4

UPDATE, 11:09: RHP Steve Cishek, who was a very effective addition to the Rays pen last season, has reunited with pitching coach Jim Hickey, agreeing to a deal with the Cubs.UPDATE, 10:40: Like most teams, Rays officials are heading out of the meetin...
Published: 12/14/17
Disney-Fox deal gives ESPN control of local cable rights to Rays, Lightning games

Disney-Fox deal gives ESPN control of local cable rights to Rays, Lightning games

As part of its deal to buy a massive package of 21st Century Fox assets, Disney will acquire Fox Sports Regional Networks, which control the local cable rights to a slew of professional teams, including the Tampa Bay Rays and Tampa Bay Lightning.Assu...
Published: 12/14/17
Tampa Bay Rays making progress in trade talks

Tampa Bay Rays making progress in trade talks

Without getting into specifics – especially the who and the where – Rays officials are for the first time talking optimistically about making a trade before the winter meetings end Thursday.Speaking at around 5:15, senior VP Chaim Bloom s...
Published: 12/13/17

Winter meetings journal: Rays trade for money to sign top international free agent

LAKE BUENA VISTA — While most of the business conducted at the meetings impacts the big-league team one way or another, the Rays are working to finalize a move they hope pays off big sometime in the 2020s.In trading Wednesday to acquire $1 million in...
Published: 12/13/17