Advertisement
  1. Sports
  2. /
  3. Rays

Rays head to Boston banged up and seeking revenge

With Joey Wendle joining Austin Meadows on the shelf, the team is shorthanded as it faces the defending champs.
Rays centerfielder Kevin Kiermaier says his team is being tested with injuries and adversity following a hot start. He hopes to help Tampa Bay pass the test in Boston this weekend. [MONICA HERNDON | Times]
Published Apr. 25
Updated Apr. 25

BOSTON — In talking about his majors-best Rays during the first few weeks of the season, manager Kevin Cash would make a point pretty much every day to say, as if he wanted to be sure people heard him, that their success was due, in part, to having a lot of things go their way.

Duly noted.

Because now little is.

As the Rays stroll into Fenway Park on Friday with revenge on their minds for last weekend’s sweep at the Trop, they face greater challenges than just facing the defending champs.

Consider they have:

• Two of their top left-handed hitters, Austin Meadows and Joey Wendle, sidelined for extended periods due to injury, and hope a third, Ji-Man Choi, is ready to play after being idled the past week.

• Ace Blake Snell sitting out the series after returning unimpressively in Wednesday’s loss from a toe broken in a freak bathroom accident that shelved him for 10 days.

• One of their top returning relievers, multi-inning man Ryan Yarbrough, demoted to the minors, with a couple of others who starred last year now struggling.

• Losses in five of their past seven games, which not only rattled their own confidence a bit, but, maybe even more concerning, revved up the struggling Red Sox’s efforts to get back in the AL East race.

“With what we were doing the first homestand of the year and the first road trip (going 12-4 overall), not a whole lot went wrong, to be honest,” centerfielder Kevin Kiermaier said. “Every time I talk I’m always trying to be realistic, and that’s just not the way baseball goes.

“We knew sooner or later we were going to be tested. We didn’t know in what way, or how. Now we face a little bit of adversity, losing some tough games, losing a couple key players. And it’s back to reality.”

That reality seemed somewhat grim as the Rays — who, of some consolation, still have the majors’ best record at 16-9 — packed after Wednesday’s mess of a 10-2 loss to Kansas City, having just heard that Wendle had a fractured right wrist that could keep him out a month, or maybe close to two, joining Meadows, who is out into mid-May with a thumb sprain.

RELATED STORY: What’s worse than an ugly loss? How about ugly and costly.

“It’s rough when you think about how good both those players are, how much they help this team win,” Snell said.

“With what Meadows has been doing, he’s unreal. And with what Joey would be doing if he didn’t have two bad breaks, with the hamstring (strain, that forced him to miss 17 games) and the actual break in his wrist. You know how good he is, and it sucks knowing that we’ve got to wait another three to six weeks, however long it takes, to get him back in our lineup.

“So it’s definitely frustrating. … Just two bad breaks, honestly. And we can’t get a break.”

The depth the Rays made a priority to accumulate is being severely tested, with Avisail Garcia and Daniel Robertson getting more playing time in the absence of Meadows and Wendle, and Christian Arroyo being called up.

“Injuries are a part of the game, and the good news is we have a ton of depth,” outfielder Tommy Pham said. “Now it’s just someone else’s turn.”

Added Snell: “For us to have the best record in baseball as of right now with what we’ve gone through, it’s a good sign. To have depth like we do, it’s going to pay off a lot, especially down the road.”

This storm of adversity comes at a bad time. After leaving Boston the Rays soon open a treacherous portion of their schedule, with back-to-back weekend series with the second-place Yankees, then a stretch of 33 games in 34 days, and 46 in 48 leading up to the early July All-Star break.

Snell would like to think they’ve gotten their run of misfortune out of the way now.

“Hope so,” he said, “because we really hit it.”

But first, the Red Sox, who won the three games at the Trop by a total of four runs, and at Fenway, where the Rays haven’t had a winning record since Cash’s first season in 2015 and are 69-117 overall.

“A lot of us were very bitter after this past weekend, coming up on the short end of the stick three games in a row,” Kiermaier said. “We know what we want to accomplish this weekend. We want to get back at them. They play good baseball. We definitely had our chances that we didn’t take advantage of, but that’s baseball sometimes. … Definitely we want to go up there and beat them at their place and win a series, and try to do the same thing they did to us. We want to win all three. We have the talent. We have the guys to do it.

“It’ll be a big test for us. It’s an important series for us getting revenge and proving to ourselves we can still beat the best teams in baseball. And we will.”

Contact Marc Topkin at mtopkin@tampabay.com. Follow @TBTimes_Rays.

Join In

Sign up for our Rays Fever Facebook gives you the chance to participate in for conversation, polls, story links and more.

ALSO IN THIS SECTION

  1. The Rays posted this  message of appreciation on their Twitter account. RAYS BASEBALL  |  Twitter
    An ad in the Tampa Bay Times from the team and Twitter messages from players cap the season that included playoffs for the first time since 2013.
  2. Tampa Bay Rays leftfielder Tommy Pham (29) takes a moment in the dugout after the Rays' 6-2 loss to the Houston Astros in Game 1 of the American League Division Series. DIRK SHADD  |  Times
    Contract terms for every player currently on Tampa Bay’s roster.
  3. The Yankees' Gleyber Torres hits a home run off Astros starting pitcher Zack Greinke during the sixth inning in Game 1 of the American League Championship Series on Saturday, Oct. 12, 2019. SUE OGROCKI  |  AP
    The 22-year-old homers and has five RBIs, the youngest AL player to drive in that many in a postseason game in major-league history.
  4. Tampa Bay Rays centerfielder Kevin Kiermaier (39), right, and shortstop Willy Adames (1) celebrate the Rays 10-3 win over the Houston Astros in Game 3 of the American League Division Series at Tropicana Field. DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD  |  Times
    Rays Tales: Underdogs really do almost “shock the world,” and Kevin Cash deserves serious American League manager of the year consideration.
  5. Nationals starter Anibal Sanchez pitches during the eighth inning of Game 1 of the NL Championship Series against the Cardinals on Friday, Oct. 11, 2019. MARK HUMPHREY  |  AP
    Starter Anibal Sanchez has a no-hitter through 7 2/3 innings before giving up a clean single to center.
  6. Rays catcher Travis d'Arnaud and starting pitcher Tyler Glasnow walk back to the dugout after the Astros score four runs in the first inning of Game 5 of the American League Division Series on Thursday, Oct. 10, 2019. DIRK SHADD  |  Times
    Manager Kevin Cash says that wasn’t the main problem for the four-run first inning in Game 5 of the ALDS. It was the Astros’ hitters.
  7. The Tampa Bay Rays grounds crew works to remove the ALDS playoff logo along the first base line on the field at Tropicana Field on Friday. DIRK SHADD  |  Tampa Bay Times
    That’s what the team stresses as it faces an offseason with roster flexibility.
  8. Tampa Bay Rays manager Kevin Cash, on left, along with Erik Neander, center, senior vice president of baseball operations and general manager, and Chaim Bloom, senior vice president of baseball operations, address the media during a news conference at Tropicana Field on Friday. DIRK SHADD  |  Tampa Bay Times
    John Romano: And while they’re at it, find a consistent closer and a bat with some pop.
  9. Houston Astros players celebrate their 6-1 win over the Tampa Bay Rays in Game 5 of the American League Division Series Thursday, Oct. 10, 2019 in Houston. DIRK SHADD  |  Times
    Preparing for Rays steady steam of relievers was a significant challenge for Houston’s hitters.
  10. Tampa Bay Rays starting pitcher Tyler Glasnow (20) reacts after giving up a hit to Houston Astros center fielder George Springer (4) in the first inning in Game 5 of the American League Division Series Thursday, Oct. 10, 2019 in Houston. DIRK SHADD  |  Times
    Rays Journal: Did the Astros know what was coming during their four-run, first-inning explosion?
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement