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Rays’ bats go quiet again in loss to Red Sox

So much for the renaissance in Toronto, as Tampa Bay manages only two hits in Boston.
Boston Red Sox starting pitcher Austin Davis delivers to a Rays batter during the first inning of Monday's game at Fenway Park.
Boston Red Sox starting pitcher Austin Davis delivers to a Rays batter during the first inning of Monday's game at Fenway Park. [ MARY SCHWALM | AP ]
Published Jul. 4|Updated Jul. 4

BOSTON — Or not.

For the previous two days, the predominant story line for the Rays was how their offense was revitalized in three straight wins over the Blue Jays as they scored 24 runs.

Then came Monday’s holiday matinee in Boston, where Tampa Bay scored none, shut down and shut out in a 4-0 loss to the Red Sox.

Worse, the Rays didn’t put up much of a fight, held to two hits and striking out 11 times against the less-than-dynamic trio of Austin Davis, Kutter Crawford and John Schreiber.

“Just scuffled,” Rays manager Kevin Cash said. “We just couldn’t get anything going. It never felt like we had a rhythm at the plate at all.”

The challenge for the Rays now is to prove the three games in Toronto weren’t the aberration and that Monday’s game was just a brief evening-out after all the success they had and not a return to form.

“I don’t really think it’s that big of a deal,” Cash said. “It’s baseball. We’re not going to go out and score as many runs as we did for the last three days and then back it back up. It’s going to stop at some point.

“But let’s pick it back up and see if we can have some good offense going forward.”

It would be hard to have less, though this is a team that has been shut out five previous times and held to two hits twice before and none once (by Reid Detmers May 10 in Anaheim).

Several players echoed what Cash said, and the challenge now is to flush Monday’s game and get rolling again on Tuesday — though the degree of difficulty may be increased as they face Nick Pivetta, one of Boston’s top starters.

“We had a really good series (in Toronto), but then you come in you have a day kind of like (Monday), it’s just one of those days that just happens,” Yandy Diaz said via team interpreter Manny Navarro. “I think they were just making good pitches. I don’t think we changed anything, really, with our approach.”

The Rays (43-37) hadn’t seen the rival Red Sox (45-35) since late April, and Monday’s outcome wasn’t a good start to a run of playing them seven times over 11 days.

Josh Fleming, called up to provide bulk innings behind opener Jalen Beeks, gave the Rays a solid outing in his first big-league outing since May 6.

He allowed two runs over his first five innings, on a homer by Trevor Story and what should have been scored an error on Isaac Paredes as he rushed the throw on a two-out grounder to second. “That’s probably a play we make nine out of 10 times,” Cash said.

Another scored due to Fleming’s error on a bases-loaded comebacker in the eighth on what should have been a double play.

”I pride myself on my defense, and unfortunately I missed that one,” he said. “I think it was just spinning a little weird, and I thought it was going to pop up and it never did. It kind of stayed (down) and went under my glove. It’s a play that think I make 100 out of 100 times, and unfortunately if there was 101 of them, the one got under my glove.”

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The margin for error was small, because the Rays had so few chances offensively.

In the third, they had Diaz on second with two outs after an error, then runners on the corners after a Wander Franco single and the correct call by third-base coach Rodney Linares to hold Diaz. But Ji-Man Choi went down swinging to end the inning.

Their only other hit came in the fifth, when Diaz singled with two outs, extending his career-high hitting streak to nine, but got caught deciding whether to try to go to second and was tagged out.

“It just kind of (feels) like the world crashes on you,” Diaz said, “because as soon as you turn you see he’s there and there is nothing you can do.”

The only other runner the Rays got to second base came in the eighth, when Brett Phillips (0-for-his-last-22) reached on a strike-three wild pitch and moved up on an infield out before Franco grounded out.

“It’s just kind of part of the game,” Paredes said via Navarro: “You can’t win them all, and you can’t always have good games. We’ve got to come back (Tuesday) and hopefully win the series.”

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