Sunday, December 17, 2017
Tampa Bay Rays

Morrison's hot hitting wasted as Rays lose to Marlins

ST. PETERSBURG — When last seen around Tropicana Field, Logan Morrison was still mired in his seasonlong slump. He was drawing walks, sure, but the hits — especially the big hits — had yet to surface.

Then the Rays hit the road and Morrison began hitting.

A lot.

There were RBIs and home runs, a torrid pace that lifted his batting average above .200 for the first time this season when the Rays returned home Wednesday from an eight-game road trip to continue their series with the Marlins.

Morrison remained hot in front of the home fans, driving in all of the Rays' runs with a three-hit night that included a home run.

Problem was, the Rays needed more than the Morrison Show, losing 4-3 to the Marlins in front of 13,554.

Morrison, who hit .522 on the road trip, had hits in his first three at-bats. His two-run blast into the rightfield seats in the sixth inning tied the score at 3.

"Hit them where they weren't and then hit 'em where they can't field them," Morrison said.

He had a chance in the eighth inning to continue the impressive run, coming to bat with two outs after Steven Souza Jr. reached on an infield hit. But Morrison looked at a called third strike.

Other than Morrison, it was a quiet night for the Rays bats. The three runs snapped a streak of 10 games where they scored at least four.

That put the pressure on a pitching staff that was without Erasmo Ramirez, unavailable two days after throwing 54 pitches. Alex Colome did warm up in the eighth inning and would have pitched the ninth had the Rays taken the lead.

Even with rookie Ryan Garton added to the bullpen as reinforcement for an overworked unit, the Rays needed a deep outing from starter Matt Andriese, if only so they knew one of their starters can still pitch through the middle innings.

Andriese gave them six, making it the fourth time in the past 11 games a Rays starter pitched more than 51/3 innings. He allowed three runs, all in the third inning when Justin Bour doubled home one run and Marcell Ozuna singled home two more.

"I just kind of told myself that's all they get," Andriese said. "I just wanted to keep the game where it was."

With the bullpen shorthanded, Cash went with Xavier Cedeno, Tyler Sturdevant, Dana Eveland and Ryan Webb. Sturdevant, pitching in his second big-league game, allowed a run in the eighth inning that proved to be the difference.

It was encouraging that Morrison continued to hit. He's batting .373 this month with three home runs and 10 RBIs. His three hits Wednesday gave him back-to-back three-hit games and raised his season average to .225.

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