Rays journal: Another blowout loss raises The Question

Rays centerfielder Mallex Smith reaches out to try and rob the Orioles' Chris Davis of a home run but is unable to hold on to the ball during the first inning Sunday, July 29, 2018. [Associated Press]
Rays centerfielder Mallex Smith reaches out to try and rob the Orioles' Chris Davis of a home run but is unable to hold on to the ball during the first inning Sunday, July 29, 2018. [Associated Press]
Published July 29
Updated July 30

BALTIMORE — Sunday's third straight ugly loss to the Orioles, this one 11-5, led to some research that showed it was only the second time in Rays history they allowed 10-plus runs in three consecutive games.

And, combined with an unsightly 6.45 ERA over the past few weeks, it raises a question: Have all the odd things the Rays have done with their pitching staff caught up to them?

"I don't think so,'' manager Kevin Cash said. "I have thought about that the last couple days. All the wear and tear, we've asked guys to bounce back. We're learning a lot as we go. Who can bounce back? What pitchers are capable of? But there's been no complaints. I don't feel like we're pitching anybody that has expressed they're tired or anything. I know that for a fact.

"There are points during a season for starting pitchers and for relievers — I know we're doing some unusual things — where a staff can go through a funk. And it seems like we all caught that funk here for three days.''

If there were common themes to the 15-5, 11-2 and 11-5 losses to the team with the worst record in the majors, it was being behind in the count too often and making too many bad pitches and bad plays.

"Any mistakes we made, whether it was on the field or on the mound, they capitalized, and that's why we saw a bunch of runs across,'' Cash said.

That was the case from the start Sunday as starter Yonny Chirinos didn't have much command and didn't do much to change it, allowing three runs on three hits and two walks in a 28-pitch first inning. "I don't think he did anything proactive to accomplish getting back in the zone,'' Cash said.

Adding to it was CF Mallex Smith botching what would've been a two-run homer-robbing catch, the ball bouncing out of his glove — and over — as he hit the wall on the way down.

"Came close to making a web gem and it didn't work out; things happen like that sometimes,'' he said. "Shoot, there were plays we were all missing.''

He was right, as the Rays dropped to .500 at 53-53. Among them: errors by Willy Adames and Joey Wendle, Matt Duffy missing a tag at third, and Hunter Wood, Andrew Kittredge and Diego Castillo each allowing homers.

The only other time the Rays allowed 10 or more runs in three straight games was April 4-6, 2001, over two series vs. the Blue Jays and Red Sox.

Painful, and pointed

2B Daniel Robertson was forced to leave the game with a sore, swollen and bruised left ankle after being taken out by a hard slide from Orioles CF Adam Jones breaking up a double play in the first. Robertson wouldn't really say when asked if he thought it was a clean or dirty play: "I'm not the rule-maker. I'm not going to sit here and say what is right and what is wrong. Adam Jones plays the game hard. He was trying to break up a double play, and he did so.'' Cash said he had no issue with it. "That's how the game is supposed to be played," he said. "He went in, went straight in, no harm, no foul. It was unfortunate Robby got hurt.''

Medical matters

LHP Blake Snell's 20-25 pitch bullpen session "went well" and he "felt great,'' but Cash said they "in all likelihood" will have him throw another in a couple of days, which would push his return to the rotation back to next weekend rather than Wednesday as had been discussed. Snell is on the disabled list with shoulder fatigue. RHP Chris Archer, if not traded, is slated to get an extra day of rest and pitch Thursday. … LHP Vidal Nuno (hamstring) is set to start a rehab assignment Tuesday with the advanced Class A Stone Crabs.

Unwanted rest

CF Kevin Kiermaier wasn't happy to be out of the lineup Sunday, but at least it was due to Cash's decision to give him a day off and not an issue with the left foot he jammed sliding into second Saturday. "I feel fine,'' he said. "When I slid into the bag, it was weird, my foot just kind of went numb. A tingling sensation, I should say. Right away, it scared me. It didn't feel great when it happened, but I knew I didn't roll it or do anything. … Kind of a weird, odd, funky play. And that's 2018 for me in a nutshell.''

Number of the day

6.45 ERA for Rays since July 12, second highest in majors. (All-Star LHP Blake Snell has been on the DL part of this time.)

Quote of the day

"It'll feel good to have an off day and get these butt whuppings out of our head."
— CF Mallex Smith

Miscellany

• 1B/DH C.J. Cron had his second two-homer game, giving him 22 home runs for the season.

• The Rays have a direct connection to the new class of Hall of Famers in scout Tom Couston who, before finding CF Kevin Kiermaier and RHP Jeremy Hellickson, signed Jim Thome for the Indians. Couston was in Cooperstown, N.Y., as Thome's guest.

• RHP Ryne Stanek is likely to be used as the opener Tuesday with LHP Ryan Yarbrough working the bulk of the innings.

• The Friday-Saturday losses marked the first time the Rays lost by nine or more in back-to-back games since 2007 at the Yankees.

• LHP Jalen Beeks on Saturday was the team-record-tying 30th pitcher used by the team this season and the record 19th rookie.

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