ST. PETERSBURG — As 1B Carlos Peña's level of production has gone down, the volume of criticism has increased. Saturday, that included boos from the home crowd.
Peña heard them when he popped out with a man on in the sixth and again when he flied out to end an 0-for-3 day that dropped his average to .190, lowest of big-leaguers with 425 plate appearances, and his on-base plus slugging percentage to .664.
Peña said it was "disappointing" for fans to boo him, but he knows it is their prerogative as paying customers. And he claimed he would not allow the negative reaction to bother him, just like he hasn't let positive responses overwhelm him.
"As grateful as I am for all the cheers, as grateful as I am for all the pats on the back and all the love the area has given me, I also think I have been smart enough not to make it my lifeline, not to make it my identity, not to make it my source of worth," he said.
"I have been very careful over the years to not let that define me, so if you have not embraced or become addicted to the cheers then the boos shouldn't bug you, either."
Keeping that balance, he admitted, is "easier said than done. But that's ideally what I want to do at all times."
COSTLY LOSS: There are a lot of "ifs" involved, but Saturday's loss could prove costly to the Rays come October since it gave the A's the season series 5-4.
If the Rays and A's were to end up as the two wild-card teams and if they had the same record, the A's would get to host their one-game playoff based on the tiebreaker of the season series. Also, if they were to end up tied for the second wild-card spot, the same rule would put the play-in game in Oakland, though there is a provision for the commissioner to assign the site based on travel considerations.
PITCHING IN: The Rays are still discussing adjusting their rotation next week and arranging extra rest for RHP Alex Cobb and/or LHP Matt Moore.
With LHP David Price opening the series Monday at Texas and RHP James Shields pitching Tuesday, the decision is whether to stay in rotation and have Cobb pitch the series finale and Moore start Thursday in Toronto, both on one extra day's rest, or move Moore up and give Cobb two extra days.
"I don't have any strong feelings about it right now," Maddon said. "They've both been throwing the ball well, that's the point. It's not like one guy is decidedly better than the other right now. They're both good."
Another issue is when, and if, to start RHP Jeff Niemann, who made his last scheduled rehab start Saturday for Triple-A Durham, allowing three runs in four innings.
Niemann seems likely to be activated Saturday and could start then, allowing the Rays to further adjust the rotation as they have series coming up with the East-leading Yankees Sept. 3-5 and 14-16.
J.P. DUTY: LHP J.P. Howell worked another clean inning, extending his team-record scoreless streak to 262/3 innings, last allowing a run June 13. That's now the longest active streak in the majors, and 12/3 innings shy of the season best by Angels RH reliever Ernesto Frieri, who went 281/3.
MISCELLANY: LF Desmond Jennings hit his 10th homer; nine have been solo shots. … Evan Longoria played the full game at third base for the first time since returning from the DL Aug. 7; he was removed early in two previous starts. … Top 2011 draft pick RHP Taylor Guerrieri had another strong start Friday for short-season Class A Hudson Valley, lowered his ERA to 1.07 through 10 games, with 37 strikeouts and only two walks.