BALTIMORE — And to think manager Joe Maddon said after Friday's game that the Rays were making too many mistakes.
Saturday they went out and performed sheer folly, committing a team-record-tying five errors — including three in one inning — plus a few other boneheaded maneuvers, along with another disappointing performance by rookie starter Matt Moore, in losing again to the Orioles, 5-3.
Afterward, they tried to push the positive, noting that they were still in the game despite the defensive debacle, how they're competing without key players and others out of position, that they're still among the league's top teams at 20-14 and have gone through these types of skids before.
But the reality is they've lost six of seven, there's no pending moves to fortify their roster, the mistakes are as much mental as physical and they are not playing anything close to the way that keyed their run of success.
"We're just not playing our game; it's obvious," Maddon said. "There's that fine line between winning and losing. Now we're doing the things that are permitting us to lose, or causing us to lose. Where we were doing things that were permitting us to win prior to this. We weren't making the same mistakes. I think it's pretty much as simple as that."
"It's uncharacteristic, obviously," infielder Sean Rodriguez said.
"It happens," centerfielder B.J. Upton said.
The Rays led 1-0 when Brandon Guyer, for the second straight year, homered in his first at-bat at Camden Yards. (And his wife, Washington, D.C., sportscaster Lindsay Murphy, missed it again, on assignment in New York this time for the Capitals-Rangers hockey playoff game.)
But that's when the sloppiness started, with three errors in the second — tying a team mark last done in the Devil Rays days of 2007 — leading to two runs. Rodriguez made a great stop at third and a bad throw, Moore made an errant pickoff toss and Guyer, with two outs, misplayed a ball rolling along the leftfield wall. "Totally on me," Guyer said.
The fifth brought more of the same, starting with Chris Gimenez's third catcher's interference, most for a season in the majors since 2006. After a single and a walk loaded the bases, Adam Jones grounded a single past Moore for two runs. Upton made the next error, allowing the other runners to advance, but it hardly mattered since the Rays failed to cover second anyway.
Moore, the touted rookie, continues to struggle (1-3, 5.31 in seven starts), failing to get through five innings, or hold a lead, for the second straight start, though the poor defense was a factor. He lasted a career-low 41/3 innings.
Maddon acknowledged several areas that need improvement, specifically fastball command early in counts, but said "concern is a little bit heavy." Further, he said there are no plans to drop Moore from the rotation or send him back to Triple A.
"I think you just keep running him out there," Maddon said.
Moore said he is confident he can work through it. "Definitely frustrating," he said. "At the same time, it's not necessarily discouraging. … I still believe in myself, I still believe in my stuff."
Overall, there's a lot they need to do better. "It'll turn around," Upton said.
Marc Topkin can be reached at [email protected]