ST. PETERSBURG — Maybe the Rays should have traded for more hitters.
Like Juan Soto, Josh Bell, Brandon Drury and some of their friends.
With the two hitters they picked up in advance of Tuesday’s trade deadline — David Peralta and Jose Siri — in the lineup, the Rays continued their offensive struggles.
In a 3-1 loss to the Blue Jays, that meant getting no-hit into the sixth inning (for the fourth time this season), held to a lone single while being shut out through eight, and limited to two hits for the night, with the one run.
And that meant being held to three or fewer runs for the eighth time in their last 10 games while batting .224, scoring a total of just 11 runs over their last five games and 26 over 10.
And that meant losing for the eighth time in 11 games since the All-Star break, dropping to 54-49 and four games behind the Jays for the top American League wild-card spot.
At this point, is there anything more the Rays can do than hope they snap out of it?
“Yeah, you can hope,” manager Kevin Cash said, laughing but not joking. “Got to do a little more than that, though.”
The Rays’ struggles were not all their own doing, as Jays starter Kevin Gausman was very sharp over his season-high eight innings, striking out 10 and allowing just one hit, one walk and one hit batter.
“He was really good,” Cash said. “Commanded the ball very well, established his fastball maybe a little bit more than what we’ve seen. Knew that coming in, that he was leaning on his fastball with the slider having been in between. But it’s kind of all he needed, fastball-split (Tuesday). He was very, very much on.”
So much so that Taylor Walls, who got the only two Rays hits — a single in the sixth off Gausman and a homer to open the ninth off reliever Jordan Romano — said there wasn’t much they could do.
“He was really throwing his split really well,” Walls said. “For me, at least‚ it wasn’t really one of those pitches to where you recognize it, think you can hit it and you swing and miss it. It was just one of those to where the arm speed out of (his) hand just looks like a fastball, so you swing not even knowing that it’s 10-15 miles an hour slower than what you’re expecting it to be and then you don’t have enough barrel to really get to it,.
“So the perception was there for him. I think that’s what most of the guys were fooled on. He was just hitting the spots and getting ahead. And then we were trying to battle back late, and everything was working way too well for him to be battling that behind in counts.”
Cash said Gausman deserved the credit, to a degree. “I’m going to always give credit to the pitcher that goes out there and can go throw a one-hitter, no-hitter through five, whatever it was. He was on,” Cash said. “I’d like to think that we can do a better job of making in-game adjustments, but no doubt Gausman was really, really good.”
Drew Rasmussen did well for the Rays, allowing just a first-inning run while completing six innings for just the second time in his last seven starts. He also was relatively more efficient, getting the 18 outs on 97 pitches.
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“I thought I got a lot more efficient after that first inning,” Rasmussen said. “Once we committed back to just simplifying and filling up the strike zone, I thought things went pretty well. Gave up some weird hits, and it’s a credit to their lineup. They make you work every time you play them. It’s a good team. I thought, though, after we made some in-game adjustments, things rolled pretty well.”
There wasn’t much else good for the Rays.
Siri was 0-for-3 but showed his range in centerfield, making one impressive catch and just missing another. Catcher Christian Bethancourt caught two runners stealing. The crowd of 16,433 was pretty good for a Tuesday. And there’s another game today, where they can turn it around.
At least, you can hope.
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