CHICAGO — What happened Sunday was bad enough, the Rays uncharacteristically making a mess of things, a four-error sixth inning turning a one-run lead with ace David Price on the mound into an ugly 9-2 loss.
"A basic implosion," manager Joe Maddon said.
But standing in the quickly deserted clubhouse, Ben Zobrist, one of the leaders on a team expected to be among the majors' best, bluntly assessed the overall damage of their first four weeks.
"It's been a tough month. What are we, 11-14? That's not the kind of team we are," Zobrist said. "We've got to play better. We just have to play better than we're playing. We're not playing the way we're capable of playing.
"There's nothing else to say but we have to play better."
Injuries that stripped two of the top three starters from an already thinned rotation, and the resulting impact on the battered bullpen, are, understandably, a major cause of their woes.
But that had nothing to do with their problems in Sunday's matinee against the White Sox. They had their ace on the mound and, despite another ineffective offensive showing — against a 29-year-old making his big-league debut in unheralded Scott Carroll — they had a 1-0 lead with 12 outs to go.
And then …
"We haven't made that many mistakes I don't think all year," Maddon said, "let alone one inning."
The four errors — by second baseman Zobrist, Price, rightfielder Wil Myers and shortstop Yunel Escobar — were a team record. With another one or two plays that could've been, and a few more mistakes of omission, it was one of the worst innings in franchise history.
"We just fell apart defensively," Zobrist said.
The parade started with him, on a relatively ordinary-looking, albeit sharply hit, ball by leadoff man Gordon Beckham. "I should've caught it," Zobrist said. "I've got to make that play for David. Because if I make that play, maybe he gets the next guy and the next guy. Sometimes those things, they just bunch up on you. And you've got to stop it before it starts."
With Beckham running, Adam Eaton sliced a grounder that went off Escobar's glove as he tried a backhand play. It was scored a hit. "A play he could make," Maddon said.
Then it got really ugly.
Price fielded Marcus Semien's bunt and threw wildly to first, several feet inside the line, allowing the first run.
"I didn't really have a good grip on it; I felt like I picked up grass with the ball," Price said. "I pride myself in being an athlete on the mound and being able to field my position extremely well. That's a play I have to make."
Myers tried to corral the ball but failed twice in trying to pick it up — resulting in the third error — and made it worse by double-pumping twice before tossing to Zobrist as Eaton raced home.
"I didn't know where to throw it," Myers said. "All I saw was Zo in front of me, and I tossed it to him."
Myers should have known better, Maddon said: "The ball does not need to be in the outfield. You've got to get it back in quickly and let the infielders deal with it."
Price then made another huge mistake, taking his frustration to the mound and leaving a changeup up over the plate that smashing Sox rookie Jose Abreu crushed for a two-run homer, his 10th of the month, making it 4-2.
"Absolutely, it's part of it," Price said. "It's a growing experience. Hopefully I can learn from it."
They weren't quite done. After a double and a strikeout, Escobar airmailed a throw to first after fielding Alexei Ramirez's grounder, allowing the fifth run to score.
Which error was the most grievous?
"They're all pretty bad," Maddon said. "They have equal negative weight."
Josh Lueke's poor seventh made things worse, and the offense continued to sputter, hitting into three more double plays and going 1-for-5 with runners in scoring position.
"It's really not who we are," Maddon said.
Right now, it is.