Friday, December 15, 2017
Tampa Bay Rays

Rays offense quiet in loss to Yankees

NEW YORK — The swarming offense Rays manager Joe Maddon likes to talk so much about didn't create much of a buzz — or anything else — Friday night.

Only two of the 10 Rays who reached base made it around to score, and none in a promising bases-loaded situation — the primary problem in a 6-2 loss to the Yankees.

"We attempted to swarm and the Raid was out," manager Joe Maddon said. "They swatted us back. We couldn't get it going."

The loss kept the Rays (38-36) from carrying forward any momentum into what would have been their first three-game winning streak of the month, continuing the step forward/step backward choreography that has marked much of their season.

On a splendid night that didn't present much drama or excitement, the most interesting moments came in both halves of the fourth inning.

In the top half, the Rays, having just tied the score at 2, had the bases loaded with one out and the top of their order up against David Phelps. They got nothing out of it, Matt Joyce flying out to shallow left and Desmond Jennings to center.

Then the Yankees had the bases loaded with none out, the bottom third of their order up, against Roberto Hernandez and got two out of it — without the ball leaving the infield.

The missed opportunity stood out the most in the Rays quiet clubhouse.

"We had good guys coming up right there," Maddon said, "and that really was the difference-maker in the game."

Joyce, hitless in five at-bats on the night, took the blame.

"Honestly, I think, for myself, we have to get at least one run right there," he said. "There's no really other way of putting it, just it has to be done. It's basically giving you a run. There's a lot of pressure on them, the pitcher, to throw a strike. And as a hitter you know your job — you've got to get that run in. It's a tie ball game. That's what I tried to do, I just didn't get enough of it. …

"It's frustrating for me because I feel like that's something I take a lot of pride in. I look forward to those situations and really relish those situations, and it's frustrating to not come through."

It was a frustrating night on the other side for the Rays, too, as Hernandez actually did what he is supposed to do, pitch deep into the game (seven innings) and get a lot of ground balls (13 outs on 11 of them).

The problem was the ones that rolled through the infield, stopped in front of fielders and skipped by others as he ended up allowing five runs and nine hits.

"The damage was inflicted by ground balls, and there was not a whole lot he could do about that," Maddon said. "He actually had about nine or 10 ground balls in a row, and many were not hit that hard, so I thought he pitched really, really well. … I don't want people to be deceived by that number."

It was most damaging in the fourth, when the Yankees scored one run on a double play grounder and the other on a slow roller that third baseman Evan Longoria made a good play to bare hand but made a bad throw.

"Some bad luck," Hernandez said. "I make good pitches, I'm trying to get a double play. The other ground ball scores a run. I can't control that."

Marc Topkin can be reached at [email protected]om.

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