CHICAGO — This is a team making a push for the playoffs?
The Rays certainly didn't look that way over the weekend, Sunday's 6-2 loss their second straight to the American League-worst White Sox.
Instead of gaining ground as they head home for a chance to catch the second wild card-holding Twins, the Rays sputtered, dropping to 68-70 and staying four games out. After winning series in St. Louis and Kansas City, they finished the road trip 5-4.
"It's frustrating because every game matters from here, and when you come to play a last-place team and when you're fighting for a wild-card spot, you expect to win the series, if not sweep them," RF Steven Souza Jr. said. "Especially with the way we played on this road trip. We played two teams that were, no offense to the White Sox, but at this point higher-caliber teams, so it's a little frustrating."
Sunday's loss was a team effort as neither the pitching nor the hitting were particularly good against a 54-81 Sox team.
Matt Andriese made his first start since June 10 after recovering from and rehabbing a hip injury and felt well, but the bottom line wasn't good as he allowed five runs on six hits — including a pair of home runs — while working five innings.
The Rays offense was shut down, and nearly shut out, by touted RHP prospect Lucas Giolito, who allowed three hits — one a Lucas Duda homer — over seven innings and striking out 10. The Rays added a run off the bullpen in the eighth.
"We lost games; I'm not going to say anything is a lost weekend," manager Kevin Cash said. "What were we, 5-4 on the road? It's a winning road trip. Nine out of 10 times we're going to take that and accept that.
"This trip we probably needed to be a little bit better. It just puts more pressure on us to go in and play good at home."
Archer feeling better, remaining optimistic
RHP Chris Archer said the tightness on the outside of his forearm that forced him from Saturday's game after eight pitches had subsided some by Sunday. He remains optimistic of no serious injury but acknowledged he won't really be feeling better until after today's exam by team doctor Koco Eaton.
"If Koco looks at it and says, 'Look, there is nothing structural, it's a muscle,' I'll be much more at ease," Archer said. "If that's the case, I'll probably try to play catch (today, and) after another day or two, throw a bullpen" with hopes to make his next start as scheduled Friday or shortly thereafter.
Head athletic trainer Ron Porterfield's confidence that it's nothing major has helped quell any anxiety, Archer said Sunday morning: "I think, based on how I feel right now, I'm going to sleep fine (Sunday). (Saturday) night wasn't the greatest, but when I woke up this morning, I didn't feel any pain, I just feel tightness."
Archer first felt the tightness during his pregame bullpen but expected it to subside once he got to the game mound. He needed to throw only eight pitches — two of which were hit for home runs — to realize that wouldn't be the case.
Colome earns august August honor
RHP Alex Colome was voted the AL reliever of the month, a just reward after converting all 10 save opportunities and allowing one run over 12 August appearances. It was the first such award for Colome, who leads the majors with 41 saves.
Something to build on
Andriese was sharp at the start, with his stuff understandably declining slightly as he pitched deeper. He said he felt strong after throwing 74 pitches, which should springboard him to 90-100 in his next outing. "It was good overall, but the five runs I'm not happy about," he said.
Getting back to normal
RHP Alex Cobb said a normal between-starts work week — after his return from the DL, then a day on call in the bullpen — has him feeling confident he will be in his usual top form tonight against the Twins: "Once I got back out there in Kansas City, I felt great, and I expect to be feeling the same way if not better this next outing, a little more comfortable with my pitches and my feel."
Number of the day
5 Hits, all home runs, for 1B/DH Lucas Duda (top left) in his past 44 at-bats over 15 games.
. LHP Adam Kolarek (bottom left) was designated for assignment after the game, opening a 40-man roster spot expected to be filled INF Trevor Plouffe, who is set to rejoin the team from Triple-A Durham.
. RHPs Andrew Kittredge and Chase Whitley were added to the bullpen to provide depth. Both got in Sunday.
. The Twins are starting the majors' oldest pitcher Tuesday in 44-year-old RHP Bartolo Colon and one of the tallest Wednesday in calling up 6-foot-10 RHP Aaron Slegers.
. Tropicana Field gates open at 5 today, a half-hour earlier than usual due to the Labor Day holiday.
. Evan Longoria "K Cancer" T-shirts go on sale today at the Trop team store, and online at 108stitches.com for $32, with $10 to his charity and $2 to the Jason Motte Foundation.