SEATTLE — The Rays didn't really have any answers for why they played so poorly and got beat so badly in Sunday's 11-2 series-losing finale to the Mariners.
"No really astounding perspective on this particular one," manager Joe Maddon said.
There were reasons. Scott Kazmir didn't give them the good start they expected. There was a huge bad break and a large momentum swing when Pat Burrell's bases-loaded liner in the first ended up an inning-ending double play. They continued their inexplicable pattern of weak efforts in road getaway games, dropping to 6-13 (while 19-19 in other road games).
But still, losing two of three to the Mariners, especially headed next to Anaheim — where they always struggle — falling to 61-50 and wasting another chance to gain ground on the Red Sox-Yankees loser?
"It's just not the time of the year when this can happen," Burrell said. "Basically, what it comes down to is anybody can win any given day, but who wants it more.
"And that's what we need to figure out."
For a team talking about having a sense of urgency and purpose down the stretch, it didn't have much of a weekend, blowing two leads in losing Friday on a two-run walkoff homer in the 11th then following Saturday's rebound with a momentum-surrendering flat effort Sunday.
"Absolutely it's disappointing. There's no question," Maddon said. "The first night, the way we had lost that game then we came back nicely (Saturday) and to come out and really get blown up today is not a good feeling. We have to be better than that. Moving forward, we just have to do better than that. There's just no getting around it."
"Very disappointing," Kazmir said. "The way we played, the way the games went, it really felt like we had a chance. We could have won all three of them. That's what we were expecting to do, and we just didn't execute."
They seemed to start well, loading the bases in the first off Mariners hyphenated starter Ryan Rowland-Smith on a hit batter, walk and Evan Longoria double. But Burrell's scorched liner was right at second baseman Jose Lopez. He doubled up Longoria, ending the inning and, as it played out, their chances.
"Obviously, I believe it would have been a whole different game if that ball would have gone through," Burrell said.
It also would have been different if Kazmir, coming off a pair of encouraging starts, had done better.
The left-hander gave up one run in the first then, after Dioner Navarro hit a two-run homer in the second, three more. He ended up with a long day in a short shift, allowing seven runs (hiking his ERA to 6.50) in 41/3 innings.
"It wasn't one of Kaz's best efforts," Burrell said, "and I'm sure he'd say the same thing."
Well, not exactly.
Kazmir blamed "pitch selection," saying that after missing early, he abandoned his change-up and slider and threw primarily fastballs and didn't locate those well, leading to "bloop doubles and whatnot."
"It was just really frustrating," he said. "I felt like I had good stuff out there to get them out."
Reliever Jeff Bennett, whom the Rays kept rather than infielder Joe Dillon to expand the bullpen to eight, made it worse, walking the No. 9 hitter to force in a run and allowing a grand slam the next inning. It was so bad that in the seventh, Maddon gave up the designated hitter by putting Burrell in left to give Carl Crawford a rest.
And now on to Anaheim.
"Ancient history, recent history," Maddon said, "it's not a good place to go."
Marc Topkin can be reached at [email protected]