Make us your home page

Get the quickest, smartest news, analysis and photos from the Bucs game emailed to you shortly after the final whistle.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Rays conjuring memories of bad old Devil Rays days (w/video)

ST. PETERSBURG — The Rays seem intent on turning back the clock to the bad old days.

Saturday's 3-2 loss to the Tigers was the Rays' 15th in their past 17 games, a stretch of ineptitude not seen since the dark green Devil Rays days of 2007.

Though Saturday was not marred by the type of grand mal mistakes they have been making, the Rays did enough small things wrong — too many walks in an inning, an inopportune home run allowed, a costly wild pitch — to come up short yet again, their margin for error getting increasingly tighter.

"It is pretty small right now," manager Kevin Cash said. "It definitely seems like any mistake or something that works against us seems to turn into a run against us right now."

The Rays reach the midway point of the season today with a 33-47 record, which puts them on a pace to lose 95 games, which would be their most since, no surprise, 2007. That was the last season before they changed their name and their identity, making the playoffs four times in the next six seasons. Until this stretch, the bad days had seemed mostly a distant memory.

Bench coach Tom Foley lived through more of them than anyone still in a Tampa Bay uniform, joining the big-league staff for the 2002 season, in which the team lost a franchise-record 106 games.

In Foley's first six seasons, the Rays averaged 98 losses, including — as yet another reminder of why Cash isn't going to take the fall for this mess — 101 and 96 in Joe Maddon's initial 2006 and 2007 campaigns as manager.

"I don't think we're anywhere close to that," Foley said after Saturday's loss. "We're not that.

"We've been pelted with injuries, and we know that, and we're trying to get through that. Yes, we're going through a rough stretch. We've got to wait for guys to get healthy, hopefully sustain where we are and try to make a little bit of a move. It's tough, but I was there, and I don't believe that we're (the old bad Rays). I know we're not."

One telling sign of those really bad teams was obvious frustration. There are days when what's happening now looks and sounds familiar, from the quiet and emptiness of the clubhouse to the blank stares and vacuous answers.

Some players show it with words. Evan Longoria went on Twitter after Friday's game to appeal to the fans to keep believing along with him. Chris Archer said he is wiping clean their record and considers today the first day of a new season.

Some players show it with actions. Brad Miller slammed his helmet Saturday after failing to get a run home. Newcomer Oswaldo Arcia broke his bat over his thigh after striking out.

"It's frustrating because the expectations here are high," Miller said. "They put us in a good position this spring, with a lot of good players in camp. The expectation is to win, which is what you want. So it's definitely frustrating. Very frustrating."

A more telling characteristic is that bad teams play not to lose rather than to win, waiting for the next bad thing to happen, for the next game to get away.

"I don't think it's anything like that," Foley said. "These guys are battling. Nobody is hanging their head. Nobody is feeling sorry for themselves. They know they have to go out there, bust their butt every day and perform.

"You can hear things in the dugout. They're trying to keep things upbeat, as tough as it may be sometimes. The mood, the atmosphere. They are approaching it the same way. Sometimes it's working; sometimes it's not."

As bad as it may be, Cash insists they won't become defeatists.

"We'll do everything we can for that not to happen," he said. "The guys in this clubhouse won't allow that to happen. We're going to show frustration. We all will do that because we all care a lot. But we're not going to set it where we're hanging heads and we're dragging through nine innings.

"This team is committed to going out and providing the effort that's needed to win major-league games. Unfortunately, we're not doing it right now. They will continue to take that effort, along with the front office, myself, the coaching staff. That will not change."

Looking at the talent on the roster, these Rays — at least when healthy — are a much better team than the Devil Rays squads. But among injuries, inconsistencies and other issues, they have not shown it.

And if something doesn't change, they may find themselves living in the past. And that is not a happy place.

Rays conjuring memories of bad old Devil Rays days (w/video) 07/02/16 [Last modified: Saturday, July 2, 2016 10:37pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Tampa lawyer Fred Ridley to be new chairman of Augusta National, Masters' home (w/ video)


    AUGUSTA, Ga. — Fred Ridley first came to Augusta National to compete in the 1976 Masters as the U.S. Amateur champion, and he played the opening round in the traditional pairing with the defending champion, Jack Nicklaus.

  2. Rays send down Chase Whitley, Andrew Kittredge; add Chih-Wei Hu, activate Alex Cobb


    After having to cover more than five innings following a short start by Austin Pruitt, the Rays shuffled their bullpen following Wednesday's game, sending down RHPs Chase Whitley and Andrew Kittredge,

    The Kittredge move was expected, as he was summoned to add depth to the pen Wednesday in advance of RHP Alex …

  3. MLB commissioner Rob Manfred moves closer to wanting a decision on Rays stadium

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — Major League Baseball commissioner Rob Manfred called Wednesday for urgency from Tampa Bay area government leaders to prioritize and move quicker on plans for a new Rays stadium.

    MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred talks with reporters at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla. on Wednesday, Aug. 23, 2017.
  4. Marc Topkin's takeaways from Wednesday's Rays-Blue Jays game

    The Heater

    The Austin Pruitt experiment might be over, or at least put on pause. After allowing six runs over seven innings to Seattle on Friday, the rookie didn't get through the fourth Wednesday, giving up five runs on four homers. His ERA for past six starts: 5.29.

  5. Six home runs doom Rays in loss to Blue Jays (w/video)

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — A curve that didn't bounce was the difference Wednesday as the Rays lost 7-6 to the Blue Jays in front of 8,264, the smallest Tropicana field crowd since Sept. 5, 2006.

    Tampa Bay Rays shortstop Adeiny Hechavarria (11) greets center fielder Kevin Kiermaier (39) at the plate after his two run home run in the third inning of the game between the Toronto Blue Jays and the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla. on Wednesday, Aug. 23, 2017.