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Rays lose third straight as offense falters again

Corey Kluber gives up seven singles, and that is enough for the Orioles to build a lead that sticks.
Rays starting pitcher Corey Kluber goes five innings against the Orioles on Monday night, allowing five runs.
Rays starting pitcher Corey Kluber goes five innings against the Orioles on Monday night, allowing five runs. [ JULIO CORTEZ | AP ]
Published Jul. 26|Updated Jul. 26

BALTIMORE — The math didn’t really make sense Monday night. The seven hits that Rays starter Corey Kluber allowed over his five innings were all singles, and two of them bunts, yet the Orioles scored five runs.

“No, it doesn’t,” Rays manager Kevin Cash said. “But they did. I don’t have an explanation.”

Cash had other numbers to be concerned about after the 5-1 loss that was the Rays’ third straight in four games after the All-Star break, a disappointing turn after they won six of seven going in, and dropped to 52-44.

While rapping eight hits, the Rays left 10 men on and went 1-for-12 with runners in scoring position. All on a day in which the Orioles were running out a parade of relievers. The Rays’ only run came on Brandon Lowe’s homer leading off the third, his first since May 7, before his extended injury absence.

“We’ve just got to do more,” Cash said. “You’re not going to win hitting a solo homer.”

Brandon Lowe watches his ball while hitting a solo home run against the Orioles during the third inning.
Brandon Lowe watches his ball while hitting a solo home run against the Orioles during the third inning. [ JULIO CORTEZ | AP ]

There were some ominous signs of wasted opportunity early. Most glaringly, when the Rays loaded the bases with one out in the second inning against Austin Voth, then got nothing out of it. Brett Phillips drilled a ball back to the mound that Voth gloved and threw home for a force out, then Yandy Diaz flied to center.

”You’ve got to find ways to make contact, get the ball in the outfield, score some runs,” Cash said. “We did not.”

Lowe, who returned to action July 16, said all the hitters need to do more.

“It kind of sucks when you look at the offensive side of things,” he said. “Our pitchers have been so good for so long. It’s time for our offense to kind of step it up. We didn’t do that (Monday), but hopefully, moving forward, we can start putting together some good at-bats and start giving our pitchers some run support.”

And as has been the case too often, the Rays made things tougher on themselves by not making plays that they should have.

Ji-Man Choi made a good stop at first base but a bad throw during the Orioles’ four-run fifth inning, as the Rays got no outs on what had the potential to be two.

“That certainly didn’t help,” Cash said. “I’m not assuming that we’re going to get a double play but an out would have been really beneficial in that situation.”

Lowe, again, said it needs to be a group effort.

“We need to kind of step it up on both sides of the ball from a position player aspect,” he said. “We need to start playing some better baseball.”

Orioles catcher Adley Rutschman, left, loses his footing as the Rays' Luke Raley, right, slides into home in the second inning. Raley was out at the plate.
Orioles catcher Adley Rutschman, left, loses his footing as the Rays' Luke Raley, right, slides into home in the second inning. Raley was out at the plate. [ JULIO CORTEZ | AP ]
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There was some drama, and a chorus of boos each time Rays DH Luke Raley batted, stemming from the second-inning play at the plate.

Raley was on third when Phillips hit the ball to Voth, and as he slid into home he took down catcher Adley Rutschman, the recently promoted top prospect and franchise cornerstone, who was trying to make a throw to first for a potential double play.

“It was a hard baseball play,” Raley said. “I didn’t do anything dirty. I talked to Adley afterwards, he was completely fine with it. He knew there was no dirty intent behind it. I was trying to keep us out of a double play, keep the bases loaded and see if we can get some runs that inning.”

Cash said it was “no issue whatsoever” and “the fans got excited.” Orioles manager Brandon Hyde said it was “a clean play” and Rutschman said he was just focused on getting the out.

Raley, who had limited big-league time with the Dodgers in 2021 and the Rays this year, said he had never been booed like that before, but felt good that Rutschman was understanding (even trying to let the fans know he was okay with it). Plus, Raley had a pretty good response, with two doubles.

For Kluber, it was just a tough night.

“It’s frustrating what it resulted in, but when I’m out there I’m just trying to keep making good pitches,” Kluber said. “Seven singles, not all of which were really hit all that hard. I probably feel like I executed better than the end result ends up being, but it’s just kind of the way things go sometimes.”

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