The Tampa Bay Rays hoped to get back on track Monday after a 2-7 home stand. They, unfortunately, fell behind early and could not make up the deficit against Toronto in a 2-1 loss. The Rays have dropped eight of ten, and have scored just 12 runs during that stretch. They again hope to get back on track tonight against a much tougher hurler on the mound.
One of the more unproductive pieces of the Rays lineup, Brad Miller, spoke about the team’s offensive drought this afternoon, saying,
I think our team is tired of almost doing it … We’re all professional, we all have a lot of pride, we want to get it done.
No offense Brad, but seeing that you’ve collected just nine hits (including three doubles and a homer) in your last 64 plate appearances, not to mention that you’ve crossed the plate just four times — and driven in just four runs — during that stretch, I would imagine that you are a main contributor to the run scoring blackout.
Evan Longoria added,
It’s kind of embarrassing for lack of a better explanation. Not lack of effort, belief, coaching.
For his part, Rays manager Kevin Cash said that the time to break out of the slump is now,
The offense is going to be fine, I know people probably scratch their head when I say that, but I believe it. Time is of the essence, we need to get this going — now.
If things continue down this path, we could be looking at a different batting order. Cash defended his sticking with the same lineup, since the slump has been a group effort and not just the two-and-three hitters who have been struggling, he acknowledged changes could be in the works.
One thing is certain, with the Rays just 2-1/2 games out of the last Wildcard slot, something needs to happen.
Blake Snell (0-6, 4.69 ERA, 4.87 FIP) will get the start Tuesday night, pitching opposite of Marco Estrada (5-7, 4.85 ERA, 4.35 FIP).
Snell put together one of his strongest starts of the season on Thursday, limiting Cleveland to one run on four hits and two walks while striking out four over 6-1/3 innings. The southpaw leaned heavily on his fastball (65 thrown, 36 strikes, five whiffs) to great effect. Even though he wasn’t pitch perfect (pun intended) — he didn’t rack up a ton of strikes, and he left more than a few pitches in the zone — Snell settled in, and more importantly, kept the ball in the park. The left-hander attributed his strong start to the game plan called by Jesus Sucre.
Estrada was again excellent in his last time turn, and he’s now gone seven innings in three consecutive starts. The right-hander has pitched to contact of late, coaxing plenty of weak fly-ball outs. After performing to a 9.52 ERA through nine starts, Estrada has now allowed just six runs in 26 innings over his past four outings. The Rays torched Estrada for 16 runs over his previous three starts, totaling 14-1/3 innings. They hope to see the negatively regressed right-hander on Tuesday. Key Matchups: Corey Dickerson (8-17, HR, 3 RBI, BB), Logan Morrison (6-18, 2B, 3B, 3 HR, 10 RBI), Daniel Robertson (2-4), Steven Souza Jr. (4-16, HR, 4 RBI), Jesus Sucre (1-2, HR, RBI)
Rays 8/15/17 Starting Lineup
— Per Marc Topkin (Tampa Bay Times), Matt Andriese (hip) will make his second rehab start on Friday for the Stone Crabs. Kevin Kiermaier will play in center for them tonight, Wednesday, and Thursday.
— Alex Cobb (turf toe) reportedly had good day at the Trop, and could be throwing off the mound again as soon as Thursday. His potential return could be next week.