MIAMI — For one reason or another, and sometimes a couple, Rays starting pitchers are not getting deep enough into games.
And one way or another, that is going to have to change.
Erasmo Ramirez's right arm may depend on it.
Monday's 7-6 loss to the Marlins was as much the product of starter Matt Moore working only five innings as the events that transpired after, including the decisive run scoring on a bouncing comebacker glancing off Alex Colome's glove in the eighth.
Moore's outing marked the 18th time in 42 games the touted Rays starting staff has failed to work more than five innings.
"We need our starters to start going deeper, there's no doubt about that," manager Kevin Cash said. "We can debate whether they should or shouldn't. But at the end of the day, they've got to go deeper for us."
In lifting Moore for a pinch-hitter in the sixth after what he called an "up and down" outing, albeit with the two-run Miami first extended on a misplay by Tim Beckham, Cash was looking for his bullpen to cover four innings.
That really meant he was hoping to get all 12 potential outs from his most trusted relievers, Ramirez and Colome. And he wanted Ramirez to do the bulk of it, which is why he made the "really difficult" decision to have Ramirez start a third inning after throwing 45 pitches in his first two, 54 for the night.
Moore allowed five runs on 10 hits but said he expected to work deeper, a victim, somewhat, of the National League rules, as Desmond Jennings, batting with one out and none on and the Rays down 5-4, popped out for him.
"I think the way I was pitching was fine. … It was a back and forth game," Moore said. "He made the decision he thought was right right there."
Moore said he is concerned about potential injury from overuse to Ramirez, who has been arguably the Rays' most valuable player to this point.
"It's unfortunate we keep doing the same thing with Erasmo," Moore said. "Seeing him at that number of pitches and knowing that he's getting worn out, it's definitely something that hurts a little bit more being a starting pitcher, knowing his workload is increasing because of something I did. …
"When Erasmo has meant as much as he has to us, it's something we want to have in September, we want to have throughout the summer. And it makes it very tough when we're leaving that amount of game to a bullpen, especially when we are in a tight ballgame. That's his situation."
After the Rays (20-22) went ahead 6-5, the Marlins rallied in the eighth. Two singles off Ramirez put runners on the corners, and Cash tried Enny Romero, who allowed a sac fly that scored the tying run, then a single to ageless Ichiro Suzuki, who had four on the night, giving him 2,960 for his MLB career. Cash summoned Colome, who got what he wanted in a tapper back to the mound, but the ball bounced off his glove, allowing the go-ahead run to score as he had to take the out at first.
"I have to catch that ball and stop the guy at third," Colome said. "It happens some time."