Saturday, April 21, 2018
Tampa Bay Rays

Rays claim not to be panicking after third straight brutal loss to Rangers (w/ video)

ST. PETERSBURG — There was no "here we go again" moment in the dugout as Rougned Odor's two-run homer in the eighth inning arced across Tropicana Field and toward the rightfield seats, even though when it landed, the score was tied and another late-inning Rays lead was blown.

"Not at all," Rays manager Kevin Cash said.

But can you blame anyone inside Tropicana Field or watching on TV or listening on radio for thinking that?

The Rays played three games over the weekend against the Rangers, held two-run leads in the sixth inning or later in every game and lost all three to a team that is approaching the end-of-the-month trade deadline as sellers.

Sunday's 6-5 loss capped a brutal weekend for the Rays (51-48), who matched their season high with a fourth straight loss.

RELATED: Brutal weekend could be start of something worse for Rays, columnist Martin Fennelly says.

The Rangers trailed 5-2 after four innings but rallied with three home runs — a solo shot from Joey Gallo in the fifth, Odor's two-run homer in the eighth that tied the score, then a solo blast by Carlos Gomez, the next batter, to give the Rangers the lead.

The final two were off Brad Boxberger, who took his second loss of the series.

"This was a bad series," rightfielder Steven Souza Jr. said. "We played bad. We pitched bad. Played bad defense. Hit bad. It's just one series. You can't take it like it's the whole season."

That's true. There are 63 games left, and with the way the Red Sox and Yankees are scuffling, the Rays are fortunate not to have lost much ground during the losing streak. But the Royals have snuck back into the AL wild-card picture and the Twins are still hanging around.

Lost, though, was the momentum of the 4-2 West Coast swing as well as the chance to gain some ground in the playoff races against a team that entered the Trop on Friday on a five-game losing streak.

"Every (game) at this point counts," Boxberger said. "Every win is one step closer to where we want to be, and every loss is one step further away. Games that we should win, we need to win, and at the end of it we have to put games away, and we haven't been able to do that this series."

MOONEY'S TAKEAWAYS: Staff writer Roger Mooney's takeaways from the Rays' loss to the Rangers.

The Rays have lost 31 times this season during games when they held a lead, including all four during this losing streak. That's the most in the American League. The front office is searching for bullpen help, but the bullpen, other than Boxberger, was solid against the Rangers.

The bullpen was charged with picking up 15 outs Sunday after starter Jake Odorizzi failed to get an out in the fifth inning. Erasmo Ramirez, Adam Kolarek and Tommy Hunter made a 5-3 lead stand for three innings, setting the stage for Boxberger to set things up for closer Alex Colome.

But a one-out walk to Mike Napoli changed that. Boxberger then missed his location on his pitch to Odor, and the Rangers second baseman jumped on it for his second home run of the game. Boxberger did the same on his second pitch of the at-bat to Gomez. That was basically the ball game and the series.

RAYS JOURNAL: Rays gamble on Sergio Romo's track record, heart.

"It's a frustrating series for the results, that's for sure," Odorizzi said. "But we need to keep plugging, keep going, if we can keep our heads up and not let this affect us we should be okay."

While panic might engulf Rays Nation, Souza said it hasn't seeped into the clubhouse.

"The goal is to make it to the playoffs," he said. "There's going to be some lumps along the road, but we have plenty of time left. We have to be consistent in a way, and this is a little hurdle that we have to get over and move on."

     
       
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