Tuesday, December 12, 2017
Tampa Bay Rays

Rays no-hit into 8th, lose to Red Sox

BOSTON — The good news, in theory, Sunday was that the Rays avoided the ignominy of being no-hit for a fifth time in five seasons as Kelly Johnson's broken-bat bloop single leading off the eighth ended Clay Buchholz's impressive bid.

But the bad news, in reality, was another abysmal showing by their so-called offense, leading to a 5-0 loss to the Red Sox that left even perpetually positive manager Joe Maddon a bit down.

"Just psychologically for the team itself, again, we've got to hit the ball just to really pick everybody's spirits up," Maddon said. "When you're not hitting the ball, totally you get that bad vibe among the group. It's hard to really keep them pushing or moving or motivated."

The numbers certainly are depressing, and concerning: American League lows in runs (33), average (.212), hits (73), extra-base hits (19) and home runs (four, fewer than seven players). Sunday was the fourth time in 11 games they scored two or fewer runs, and with three hits total it was the 10th time they were in single digits.

"It's just one of those things you need something to spark it," Johnson said. "We're just going to have to find that spark somewhere."

Maddon made it clear — for those of you who keep wondering about top prospect Wil Myers — that the answer to their 4-7 start is not a sudden roster shakeup.

"Of course not," Maddon said. "We're just looking for the guys we know have more in them to just bring it out."

The group they fielded Sunday didn't show much of anything, six of the first nine going down on strikes against Buchholz, who tends to be a challenge for them anyway.

"I don't know if anybody else was thinking it, but I was certainly thinking he had no-hit stuff today even after my first AB," Johnson said. "A pretty special outing for him."

The Rays had walked four times — so at least they weren't facing another perfect game — and were down 4-0 after an up-and-down outing by Alex Cobb when Johnson led off the eighth.

Having struck out his first two trips, he sought to change something, so he picked up one of Sam Fuld's 31-ounce Marucci bats and shifted his back foot closer to the plate.

Buchholz changed up, too, shaking off signs for a fastball and a cutter to throw a curve, and after the first one was a called strike did so again. "I was not expecting that," Johnson said, "but I was in good enough position the same time around to at least make some contact, even though it was a broken bat."

Buchholz, who finished with a career-high 11 strikeouts, said the idea was for it to be a bad enough pitch that Johnson couldn't hit it: "Just one of those things."

Fuld followed by grounding into a double play, then Desmond Jennings, who came closest to a hit with a shot in the sixth that shortstop Stephen Drew deflected and second baseman Dustin Pedroia made a play on, doubled. Evan Longoria, who flied out in a big spot when the Rays had two on via walks in the sixth, added a single in the ninth.

Fuld said he didn't mind losing the lumber: "At least somebody got a hit."

The Rays certainly know the empty feeling, having been no-hit four times since 2009 — perfect games by Chicago's Mark Buehrle (2009), Oakland's Dallas Braden (2010) and Seattle's Felix Hernandez (2012), plus a messy no-no by Arizona's Edwin Jackson (2010, with Johnson in the Diamondbacks lineup).

Ben Zobrist, who along with Longoria are the only Rays left who were part of all of them, said there was that growing sense of here they go again. Maddon admitted he had it, too, but said based on their past experience he wasn't too worried about it being a big deal.

"We have so much practice at talking about that postgame that I was not that concerned," he said. "And it's never really had an impact on us the next day. I actually reflected on it, no question, because it's happened to us so often, probably more than any other team over the last several years. It's always somewhat there. But it's just more about winning or losing the game, looking for that one moment that you get things rolling."

Eleven games in, it has been elusive.

Marc Topkin can be reached at [email protected]

   
Comments
Live from Disney: Winter meetings update, day 2 – with some news

Live from Disney: Winter meetings update, day 2 – with some news

UPDATE, 7:13: Unexpected sighting in the meetings lobby: Luke Scott, who looked in great shape at 39 and is at least talking about playing again. Played for Astros,Orioles and Rays in the majors, last in 2015 with the  Blue Jays Triple-A team.UP...
Updated: 5 hours ago
Tampa Bay Rays make another small deal, acquiring INF Ryan Schimpf

Tampa Bay Rays make another small deal, acquiring INF Ryan Schimpf

The Rays made another small move to add infield depth on Tuesday, acquiring Ryan Schimpf from the Padres for minor league infielder Deion Tansel.Schimpf, 29, has played parts of the last two seasons in the majors, posting just a .195 average but with...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Could the Yankees’ new Death Star prompt a Rays surrender?

Could the Yankees’ new Death Star prompt a Rays surrender?

I have a theory that Major League Baseball is always way more interesting when the New York Yankees are good.Well, the Yankees got way better in the past few days.But baseball didn’t get more interesting. It got way worse.And it could get worse in Ta...
Updated: 8 hours ago
MLB ump Dale Scott retires rather than risk more concussions

MLB ump Dale Scott retires rather than risk more concussions

LAKE BUENA VISTA — As a big league umpire, Dale Scott saw maybe 1 million pitches from the field. His final call, it turned out, was the easiest of all. Rather than risk yet another concussion, Scott has decided to retire at 58. "I’m done," he told T...
Updated: 10 hours ago

Tampa Bay Rays make a small deal, acquire INF Joey Wendle

While continuing discussions on bigger topics, the Rays made a small deal Monday, acquiring INF Joey Wendle from the A's for a player to be named later or cash.Wendle, 27, spent part of the last two seasons in the majors, hitting .266 over 36 games. ...
Published: 12/11/17
Live from Disney: Winter meetings update, day 1

Live from Disney: Winter meetings update, day 1

UPDATE, 6:14: The Rays continued talks with no major moves seemingly close, but did make a small deal, acquiring INF Joey Wendle from the A's. Wendle, 27, has spent parts of the last two seasons in the majors, hitting .266 in 36 games. He is a lefty ...
Published: 12/11/17
Winter meetings journal: Rays closer Alex Colome drawing interest

Winter meetings journal: Rays closer Alex Colome drawing interest

LAKE BUENA VISTA — The Rays made a small deal Monday in acquiring INF Joey Wendle from Oakland while continuing to discuss bigger ones that seem likely to eventually lead to the trade of closer Alex Colome and then others.The Rockies and Mets joined ...
Published: 12/11/17
Yankees’ acquisition of Giancarlo Stanton may hasten Rays’ dismantling

Yankees’ acquisition of Giancarlo Stanton may hasten Rays’ dismantling

LAKE BUENA VISTA — The latest obstacle keeping the Rays from contending in the American League East loomed even larger Monday afternoon in pinstripes.The Yankees’ formal introduction of Giancarlo Stanton also could be an accelerant to the departure o...
Published: 12/11/17
Rays manager Kevin Cash on trade speculation, bullpen staffing, Yankees addition of Giancarlo Stanton

Rays manager Kevin Cash on trade speculation, bullpen staffing, Yankees addition of Giancarlo Stanton

Rays manager Kevin Cash was first up in the media room at the winter meetings today and here are a few up the more interesting things he said:* On trade speculation regarding their veterans such as Chris Archer and Evan Longoria: "I know there is a l...
Published: 12/11/17
Tampa Bay Rays cornerstone Evan Longoria “somewhere in limbo” due to trade speculation

Tampa Bay Rays cornerstone Evan Longoria “somewhere in limbo” due to trade speculation

Franchise cornerstone 3B Evan Longoria considers his future with the Rays "somewhere in limbo" based on speculation he could be traded as part of a cost-cutting and rebuilding movement."I don't know what to think, really,'' Longoria told the Tampa Ba...
Published: 12/11/17