Thursday, December 14, 2017
Tampa Bay Rays

Rays shut out by Red Sox to cap sweep

BOSTON — The Rays quietly packed up Sunday afternoon in a cramped visitor's clubhouse at Fenway Park, putting on their white shirts and pants — even one cowboy hat — for their wardrobe-themed trip to Miami.

The symbolism was unintentional, but obvious, with questions about whether Tampa Bay will put up a white flag on its seemingly lost season.

As concerned as principal owner Stuart Sternberg is, he said he's not ready to go there. But after the Rays lost their sixth straight game Sunday afternoon, 4-0 to the Red Sox, they fell to an AL-worst 11 games under .500 and 101/2 games out of first place.

"It's real frustrating," third baseman Evan Longoria said. "This is probably the worst we've been for an extended period of time for as long as I've been here. I think the morale is there, I don't feel like guys are coming to the ballpark expecting to lose and I don't think that will ever happen. I do think the belief is still there that this thing is going to turn around.

"My only concern is we get ourselves in position where we're too far back. The further back you get, even if you do get hot and start playing well, you can't put yourself too far behind."

The Rays (23-34), Longoria said, are not "doing the little things right." That was evident Sunday, as leftfielder Sean Rodriguez misplayed two fly balls, one resulting in a two-run double by Brock Holt in the fourth inning. Rodriguez said the fly ball faded down the line more than he expected, and after a diving effort, it bounced off the tip of his glove.

"Both of them I should have caught," he said.

That was enough offense for Red Sox left-hander Jon Lester, who struck out 12 in seven innings. "Just doing what Lester does," Rodriguez said.

What has hurt the Rays most this season is their inconsistent offense, which has five runs over the past three games. Longoria said the "confidence level is just not there overall."

"I really, truly, absolutely believe our offense is a lot better than this," manager Joe Maddon said.

The Rays got another short outing from a starter, with veteran lefty Erik Bedard lasting 42/3 innings and allowing three runs on five hits. It was the 27th time a Rays starter has pitched five innings or fewer, most in the majors, and the 14th straight game that Rays starters have gone without a win, tying their longest streak since 2010-11.

"When things are going bad, you find a way to lose, and that's what's happening right now," said right-hander Alex Cobb, who starts tonight in Miami. "We were picked to be World Series contenders to start the season, so the pieces are here. We've just got to get our confidence back, get back on that roll and gather our emotions and keep it in check and really fight through this tough time.

"It's not early anymore, but I think the next month or so it's going to go one or two ways. We have to make sure we take care of business and make good fortune happen for us and not just wait for it."

Joe Smith can be reached at [email protected]

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