Flying high off a 6-3 road trip that took them through three cities with teams ahead of them in the American League Wildcard race, the Rays dropped a disappointing three-game series to the Orioles at Tropicana Field this weekend. Tampa Bay’s pitching staff held up their end of the bargain, limiting Baltimore to five runs in the series; however, the O’s staff allowed just two runs, tossing a pair of shutouts over the weekend. “We pitched great” said Rays’ manager Joe Maddon.”We just can’t hit right now.”
The ultimate sin in baseball is wasting good pitching. The Rays’ offense nearly wasted a solid effort Friday, but scraped across two runs thanks to solo blasts by B.J. Upton and Desmond Jennings. Jeremy Hellickson allowed four runs in four innings on Saturday. Meanwhile, the offense was shutout leaving Hellickson’s subpar outing as moot point.
David Price was great once again on Sunday as the left-hander threw eight shutout innings, but the Rays could not score a run in 10 innings, dropping the game and the series in a 1-0 final. Tampa Bay went 0-12 with runners in scoring positon and sit at the bottom of the league with a .234 average when runners are in position to score.
There is a chance the Rays offense may receive some help as Evan Longoria will be re-evaluated today after serving as the designated hitter for the Durham Bulls over the last week. Still bothered by a partial hamstring tear, the 26-year-old has been limited to hitting only with defense on the back burner for now.
Although Longoria, and perhaps Luke Scott, could be back soon, that alone will not help the offensive slump that has plagued nearly the entire lineup. It is imperative that projected productive bats like Carlos Pena, B.J. Upton, and Desmond Jennings start hitting on a consistent basis easing the load on secondary players.
“We’re not playing bad baseball” said Maddon. “We’re not hitting.” With a bunch of physically talented players on the team, perhaps the struggles are mental or a result of overthinking. Outfielder Matt Joyce thinks thinks today’s off day may do the team some could as they get some extra time to clear their heads before hosting the Blue Jays on Tuesday.