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Stop us if you’ve heard this one before: Rays lose again

The pitching was pretty good, and the offense was pretty bad in a loss to the Astros.
Rays designated hitter Yoshi Tsutsugo walks to the dugout after striking out against Houston Astros' Jose Urquidy during the fifth inning.
Rays designated hitter Yoshi Tsutsugo walks to the dugout after striking out against Houston Astros' Jose Urquidy during the fifth inning. [ STEVE NESIUS | AP ]
Published May 1
Updated May 2

ST. PETERSBURG — Manager Kevin Cash doesn’t like seeing how bad his Rays are doing at the plate, either, Saturday’s 3-1 loss to the Astros the latest example of their staggering futility.

The 3-for-their-last-54 failure with runners in scoring position. The four straight games with two or fewer runs and 19 (of 28 total) with less than five. The eight players hitting .212 or worse.

All of which resulted in their third straight loss, fifth in their last seven games and seventh in 10, dropping them to 13-15.

“It’s tough to see our guys going through it,” Cash said. “They’re wearing it on their sleeves, like they have been for now for too long of a time.

“It’s not hard to watch. You know what the guys do, they come in, the work that they’re putting in, they’re doing everything they’re capable of to get out of it. It’s just not coming easy.”

But if you’re expecting the Rays to make some big changes, whether to get new players, new coaches or a new approach, you’re not going to like what Cash said they’re going to do.

“We have no other choice, we’re going to stick with it,” he said. “These are our guys. We’re going to stick with our guys. We’re confident we’re going to break out of it.

“I wish I could pick the game or the inning or whatever. But we’re confident we’ve got the hitters and the offensive capabilities here to snap out of it and get rolling in the right direction.”

That includes sticking with how they’re doing things.

“As far as changing anything like philosophy or thought process, I don’t think that’s the right way to go,” Cash said. " I think, let’s trust what’s made us good in the past. Try to continue to do that. Be as consistent with that as possible.

“That’s getting good pitches to hit. Trying to do damage when you get them. And when you don’t get them, try not to expand and allow the pitcher to get chase or soft contact on pitches out of the zone.”

Cash isn’t one to get cute in trying to get the team out of a slump. He’s not going to let his kids make the batting order, or pick names out of a hat, or set it up the way former manager Joe Maddon once did in 2014, using the players’ positions to match the phone number in the Tommy Tutone song, “867-5309/Jenny.”

Cash believes in the process and the players, acknowledging they’re pressing but confident they will battle their way out of it together.

While it’s easy to focus on the Rays’ abysmal performance with runners in scoring position — 5-for-60 (.083) on the homestand, an AL-worst 46-for-240 (.192) for the season — Cash sees it as a bigger issue.

“It’s baffling, but that’s just the way it goes sometimes,” he said. “We can dwell on runners in scoring position, we’re just not getting guys on base at the clip that we’re capable of right now.”

Some credit has to go to the pitching they’ve been facing, but the burden is on the Rays to address and overcome it.

When starter Josh Fleming gave up three runs in the first inning Saturday, it felt like the game was out of reach, which it pretty much was.

The Rays had a chance in the seventh, with two on and one out, but Randy Arozarena grounded out. They had another in the ninth when Brandon Lowe singled and Arozarena walked. Groundouts by Joey Wendle and Yandy Diaz got one run home, but Yoshi Tsustsugo’s groundout ended it.

“It’s frustrating,” Wendle said. “I think everybody’s feeling it right now. As a unit, we all expect better out of ourselves, especially on this homestand.

“It’s been a rough stretch. I don’t really know any other way to put it. Not really having good at-bats. Here and there, there’s been some poor luck, but overall, just not been very good. We expect more out of ourselves.”

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