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Rays end road trip with another quiet loss to Orioles

Lack of offense is again the issue, as it was on much of the three-city trip to Minnesota, New York and Baltimore that ends with a 2-7 record.
The Rays' Brett Phillips is tagged out by the Orioles' Adley Rutschman after attempting to score on double by Vidal Brujan during the second inning Sunday.
The Rays' Brett Phillips is tagged out by the Orioles' Adley Rutschman after attempting to score on double by Vidal Brujan during the second inning Sunday. [ TERRANCE WILLIAMS | AP ]
Published Jun. 19|Updated Jun. 19

BALTIMORE — In theory, you could look at the Rays’ latest offensively unoffensive showing, a 2-1 Sunday loss to the Orioles, a couple of ways:

Encouraged that they at least created several scoring opportunities.

Discouraged that they failed to convert all but one, wasting another strong pitching performance, this time from Corey Kluber.

Or, being more realistic, manager Kevin Cash’s way:

“I don’t really care,” he said. “If we’re not winning, that’s how I see it.”

That is the bottom line, and it has been pretty ugly. The Rays went 2-7 on a three-city road trip, dropping to 36-30, 13 games out of first place in the American League East. They have lost nine of their last 14 and are 18-20 over the last six weeks.

And while several players talked about being excited to get back home, there is the slight complication that the Yankees, with their MLB-best 49-17 record, will be waiting, starting tonight.

“(Kluber) was so good again for us, and it’s irritating, frustrating, all at the same time not being able to help him out a little bit,” Cash said. “We swung the bats OK, but you’ve got to piece together some bigger innings than what we’re doing here as of late.”

Over the last five losses (three to the Yankees, two to the Orioles), the Rays scored a total of five runs. And not all came against elite pitching. The Orioles on Sunday cobbled nine innings out of seven relievers after scheduled starter Jordan Lyles was scratched due to a stomach virus.

Randy Arozarena, who was 1-for-12 for the series with seven strikeouts, breaks his bat on a pitch thrown by Orioles reliever Mike Baumann during the sixth inning.
Randy Arozarena, who was 1-for-12 for the series with seven strikeouts, breaks his bat on a pitch thrown by Orioles reliever Mike Baumann during the sixth inning. [ TERRANCE WILLIAMS | AP ]

“Disappointing, I guess, is probably the only word to describe it,” shortstop Taylor Walls said. “We’re fighting, though. We’re trying. That’s the biggest thing: Every guy’s coming in, doing their best.

“Sometimes that’s just how the game is. We can’t really sit here and pout about it. … (We need to) just try to change our mindsets a little bit, maybe focus a little more.”

They needed to do something better Sunday.

Anthony Santander’s first-inning homer, then a bad-break infield single off Kluber’s foot leading off the third put them in a 2-0 hole they couldn’t escape.

The only run the Rays got came when Francisco Mejia, who had a career-high four hits Saturday, led off the fourth with a single and scored on a Walls double.

Otherwise they had just quick at-bats and missed opportunities, going 1-for-6 with runners in scoring position and leaving 10 men on. Saturday’s seven runs in their win seemed like a mirage.

In the second, Brett Phillips was thrown out at home trying to score on a double to rightfield by Vidal Brujan, the Orioles crisply executing the relay.

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“I was running all out,” Phillips said. “It was a heck of a relay. I don’t think I could have done anything differently.”

In the third, the Rays had the bases loaded with two outs after three straight walks, but Randy Arozarena — who was 1-for-12 in the series with seven strikeouts — quickly got behind in the count and went down swinging.

“Just wasn’t able to capitalize,” Cash said. “Got kind of overpowered with the fastball, expanded on a slider.”

In the sixth, the Rays had runners on the corners after two-out singles by Phillips and Brujan, but Rougned Odor made a tremendous play on a slow roller by Walls and a throw falling down for the out.

Kluber, a 12-year veteran, said patience is key in times like this.

“I don’t know that a message is really necessary,” he said. “I think that everybody realizes that you’ve got a 162-game season, there’s going to be ups and downs. Whether it’s offensively or defensively, or pitching-wise, the only way to get out of it is to continue to work and not bank on the fact that things are going to turn around, but I think everybody knows that throughout the course of a season things will turn around.”

For the Rays, that can’t be soon enough.

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

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