Saturday, November 18, 2017
Tampa Bay Rays

Rays making uncharacteristic mistakes

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SEATTLE — The Rays aren't used to this.

Not just that they have a losing record for August and September, but how it's happening, with a lengthy rap sheet of costly mistakes and uncharacteristic misplays.

"This," manager Joe Maddon said Saturday afternoon, "has been our worst baseball all year."

Maddon already felt the players have been tight and trying too hard, and Saturday he suggested that the carryover is showing up on the field.

"Just a little unsure of ourselves," he said.

"We're making mistakes we normally don't make. I don't want to say routine-routine, but they're pretty basic things that we normally do well late in the ballgame and we've just got to get back to not making those mistakes."

The eighth inning of Friday's staggering 6-4 loss to the Mariners was a frustrating microcosm of how it has been going.

In the top half, Sean Rodriguez made the first out by inexplicably getting picked off second, and Evan Longoria made the last out by being too aggressive with the bases loaded, swinging at the first two pitches and grounding out. All told, the Rays got three walks, a single and a pinch-hit RBI double from Luke Scott in the inning yet scored only one run, tying the score at 4.

And that was just a warmup for the bottom of the inning. First centerfielder Desmond Jennings dropped a fly ball (his third error in less than two weeks) to put the go-ahead run on second with one out. Reliever Joel Peralta made it worse by walking Kendrys Morales. And rookie rightfielder Wil Myers completed the festivities by mistiming his dive for Justin Smoak's line drive, the ball bouncing off the heel of his glove to allowed two runs to score.

"We have to be able to make those plays," Maddon said. "To go to the promised land, you've got to be able to do those things."

Maddon noted but had no answers for why they have played poorly on both West Coast road trips (including Arizona), winning only two of the first 13 games. "For whatever reason, we have not adapted well," he said.

Some of the mistakes have been odd, some weird, some hard to explain.

The Rays are going to have to do a lot of things better over the remaining three weeks, specifically in late-game situations.

"Already this year we've talked about that we've lost a lot of games late that we have not normally lost in the past," Maddon said. "I keep saying at some point we've got to stop doing that, and we really do. It's there for us to take. There's a lot of time for us to start playing our best baseball of the year, which I'm anticipating that we will do. We've played badly and we've played really well this year.

"We're normally a good August-September team, but we're not showing up yet."

Marc Topkin can be reached at [email protected] Follow him on Twitter at @TBTimes_Rays.

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