ANAHEIM, Calif. — Evan Longoria stood in the clubhouse after the Rays lost again Sunday, 6-2 to the Angels, searching for the words to sum up a disappointing start that has now extended for seven weeks.
"It's just frustrating," Longoria said. "I don't think we're at the point of discouragement yet. I still believe there's plenty of baseball to be played. Hopefully it starts to click and we figure some things out and we start to roll off a good streak of games.
"But it's been pretty dismal, to say the least."
On the other side of the quiet room, with his team 19-26 and in last place after what matches their worst 45-game stretch at any point in their past five seasons, David Price sounded similarly perplexed.
"I don't have any answer," he said. "Of course it's discouraging."
Indicative of how things have been going, it was Longoria and Price, the Rays' two biggest stars, who factored prominently in the latest loss, which capped a 3-4 West Coast trip.
Price was not nearly as sharp in the follow-up to his complete game in Seattle, allowing a season-high 11 hits — including Albert Pujols' 503rd and 504th homers — while throwing 119 pitches in less than seven innings.
"Just didn't execute enough pitches," Price said. "Felt great. Just keep working."
Manager Joe Maddon said Price, now 4-4, 4.28, didn't pitch badly. He insisted Price had good stuff, and the Angels should be credited for their approach, which Pujols said was based on being aggressive. "He may only give you one-two pitches to hit in four at-bats, and you need to take advantage of that," Pujols said.
But Price did make some mistakes, allowing the first homer to Pujols with two outs in the first on an 0-and-2 fastball, a run in the third on three consecutive two-out singles, then putting the first three Angels on in the fourth in advance of Longoria's error.
"Nobody's perfect. … I don't want him to shoulder too much responsibility," Maddon said. "He did make a couple bad pitches."'
Longoria made one big mistake, booting a somewhat routine grounder that was a pivotal play in the game. It turned what should have been an out at the plate into an error that allowed two runs to score, pushing the lead to 5-0.
"It took a funny hop, and whatever," he said. "It's a play that I need to make in that situation right there. Those are the things that we're not doing right now in those situations. You want to be the guy to be able to make that play and turn it around, and it just didn't happen."
That was the case pretty much all weekend for Longoria, who was 0-for-4 on the day and 2-for-13 with one RBI for the four games in the hometown stadium he usually stars in.
As they headed home to face the streaking A's and rival Red Sox, Maddon insisted it would take more than a rough first couple months to get him down.
"We haven't played our best baseball," he said. "We're missing a few key people. It's a matter of getting well, keeping everybody on the same page."
Marc Topkin can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.