ST. PETERSBURG — Standing at his locker after Wednesday's 2-0 loss to Baltimore that was the staggering 45th of a Rays season not even halfway over, Evan Longoria had no excuses.
"We didn't deserve to win," Longoria said. "The only guy really that deserved to win was (Alex) Cobb. He threw the ball well and gave us a chance, and we didn't reward him by doing very routine things the right way.
"We've got to do those things or we're not going to win, simple as that."
Instead they, once again, did much wrong.
Second baseman Ben Zobrist made a costly physical error, botching a routine grounder that led to Baltimore's first run. Longoria made a bad mental one, losing track of the outs and killing a prime chance to tie the score. And the offense collectively failed in several promising opportunities, including bases loaded with no outs in the first inning and going 0-for-7 overall with runners in scoring position, laying waste to a stellar outing by Cobb in being shut out for the 11th time, matching the most in the majors.
"That's kind of been the story of the year so far for us in the fact that on the days we pitch good, it's been tough to come across some runs," Cobb said. "On the other hand of that is that we're pitching poorly and the offense is putting up a lot of runs.
"We've just got to get on the same page and be consistent on both sides and come out and play the type of baseball we should be."
During a week in which they're doing extra fundamentals work in an effort to get re-focused and mentally sharper, the Rays have been anything but, losing two of three to the Orioles and dropping their majors-worst record to 28-45.
Cobb and Baltimore's Kevin Gausman were locked in a pretty good duel, with some good defense behind them, when the Rays erred first. Zobrist scooped Nick Markakis' grounder for what should have been the last out of the fifth, but he lost the ball on the transfer to make an underhand toss to first for his sixth error after making five total last season.
"It just slipped out of my glove," he said. "Not really much else I can say."
Cobb took the blame for what happened next, as he got ahead of Steve Pearce 0-and-2 but allowed an RBI double for a 1-0 Baltimore lead. "That's what I was so frustrated about — when guys have your back all day, you really try to do your part and really pick a guy up," he said.
Longoria's mental error came the next inning, after a leadoff double gave the Rays a shot to tie. But James Loney struck out then Longoria, thinking there were two outs, took off when Zobrist (now 1-for-his-last-36 with runners in scoring position) lined to left, the double play killing their chances.
"Just a mental mistake," Longoria said. "Those are the type of things we've been trying to preach around here to not let happen, and I'm disappointed in myself that it did. It can't happen."
Something bad already had, as the Rays wasted a better opportunity in the first, loading the bases on a walk, a single and an error and getting nothing out of it, Loney and Zobrist striking out and David DeJesus popping out.
Acknowledging "the mortal sin" of wasting such good pitching, Rays manager Joe Maddon was left to apologize after the game — not for their continued poor play, but for his persistent positivity in the face of it.
"I hate to be having to give you guys the same rhetoric on a daily basis, but I'm not going to give up, I don't give in," he said. "From my perspective, it's important. If I don't maintain the level of optimism that I do and the consistency from this office, then where's it going to come from."
Marc Topkin can be reached at [email protected] Follow him on Twitter at @TBTimes_Rays.