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Rays shut down by Rangers

ARLINGTON, Texas — If there is going to be any evening out for the egregious blown call that cost the Rays a chance to win Monday, payback was not immediate.

"It hasn't shown up yet," Rays manager Joe Maddon said after Tuesday's 6-1 loss to the Rangers. "It's on a slow train from Midland right now."

They were done in as much by a series of bloops, bleeders and slow rollers than anything more damaging or self-inflicted.

"Frustrating night," Maddon said. "We lost the battle of inches today. That's what I was thinking about in the dugout. … That happens sometimes."

Roberto Hernandez was the unfortunate victim, charged with six runs (five earned) after allowing eight hits, though only two or three that were well-struck. He said he was pleased with how he threw, but not the way things turned out.

"It was tough," Ben Zobrist said. "They didn't really crush the ball tonight. I thought Roberto threw pretty well, and to give up five runs or whatever he did on some of those hits they had I thought was a tough break, and didn't show how well I thought he pitched."

Combine that with another night of minimal offense and it was a bad outcome, the hitters shackled this time by Texas' Nick Tepesch, a 24-year-old making his big-league debut after spending last season at Double A. Without much of a scouting report, they got only two hits through the first seven innings off Tepesch and four total, and hit only four balls out of the infield.

"It was tough, we really couldn't watch any video. There wasn't much that we could see what he was doing," Zobrist said. "He probably had a lot more information on us than we had on him, and it worked out for him."

A week into the season, the Rays (3-5) haven't shown many signs of the improved offense they were expecting, averaging less than four runs a game.

Small samples can be unfair, but Tuesday's lineup included five players hitting .222 or lower, including shortstop Yunel Escobar, who was dropped from sixth to seventh and is down to .111.

"We just haven't been hitting the ball well as a group," Maddon said. "It's just one of those moments we've got to keep grinding it out. The hits will come back to us. The biggest thing I try to do is keep their confidence up."

Plus, the starting pitching hasn't been anywhere near the level they are used to and expect to be over the bulk of the season, the bullpen has had some bad moments and while the defense has been impressive, they have allowed way too many runs with two outs — 27 of 44.

After wasting their first chance when Tepesch walked the bases loaded in the second — extending their streak of futility to 0-for-10 with the sacks full — the Rays took a 1-0 lead in the third. But it didn't last, Hernandez making what may have been his biggest mistake, walking No. 9 hitter Leonys Martin after being ahead 0-and-2, leading to a two-run single by Lance Berkman at most 12 inches out of Zobrist's reach, a sign of how the night was going.

"I know it looks bad and it was not a good game for us in a sense,'' Maddon said. "But we did a lot of good things once again. … It's just so early in the year that you can't get concerned. ''

Matt Joyce grimaces after striking out in the first inning against Rangers starter Nick Tepesch, who pitches effectively into the eighth inning in his major-league debut.

Associated Press

Matt Joyce grimaces after striking out in the first inning against Rangers starter Nick Tepesch, who pitches effectively into the eighth inning in his major-league debut.

Rays shut down by Rangers 04/09/13 [Last modified: Wednesday, April 10, 2013 1:14pm]
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