Rays’ slide deepens, but ‘we’re going to come out of it’

ST. PETERSBURG — The Rays started this month in a super place. On July 2, they have been 57-29, with a season-high 6 1/2-game lead within the American League East. Their lineup was a homer-hitting, basestealing machine, and their pitching employees was among the many greatest in baseball.

However a brutal three-week stretch has left the Rays reeling. After a 5-3 loss to the Orioles on Sunday afternoon at Tropicana Discipline, Tampa Bay (61-42) is two games behind Baltimore (61-38) within the AL East — 4 again within the loss column — and in determined want of one thing to spark a struggling lineup.

The Rays fell to 4-14 this month. With six video games to go towards the Marlins, Astros and Yankees earlier than August, they’re on tempo for the franchise’s worst month since its 2008 turnaround. (The 2015 and ‘16 Rays each went 9-16 in July.) And the Orioles aren’t slowing down, having gained 12 of 15 video games to say the highest spot within the division.

“I feel we nonetheless have a number of time. We nonetheless have about two months or so to go,” first baseman Yandy Diaz stated by interpreter Manny Navarro. “We have simply bought to remain centered and keep optimistic, and I feel we will come out of it.”

It didn’t occur in Sunday’s sequence finale, because the Rays’ lineup couldn’t carry any momentum ahead after a late rally that finally fell quick Saturday afternoon. Tampa Bay labored six walks and had two batters hit by pitches, but it surely managed solely three hits — and only one earlier than the ninth inning.

The Rays scored as soon as within the fourth on a pair of walks and a groundout by Brandon Lowe, then Díaz made it a 3-3 recreation within the fifth with a two-run homer — his career-high-tying 14th of the season — off Orioles starter Tyler Wells.

Rays starter Taj Bradley allowed three runs within the first two innings, however then he retired 10 of the final 11 batters he confronted to get by 5. Reliever Colin Poche yielded a go-ahead homer within the sixth to Ryan O’Hearn, who hit a solo shot off the foul pole in left that might have been a house run in solely two of 30 Main League ballparks, in line with Statcast: Yankee Stadium and Tropicana Discipline.

In the meantime, Tampa Bay’s lineup went quiet as soon as once more. The Rays struck out 11 instances, went 0-for-4 with runners in scoring place and left eight males on base as they dropped to 3-6 towards the Orioles this 12 months. It was the eleventh time in 18 video games this month that they scored three runs or fewer.

“This offense is simply too good to go that quiet for thus lengthy,” supervisor Kevin Money stated. “Yandy picked us up, however I might wish to assume that we will have some higher at-bats collectively to place slightly bit extra strain on the pitchers.”

The Rays did that remarkably effectively the primary three months of the season, slashing a collective .265/.338/.464 whereas averaging 5.6 runs per recreation by June. This month, they’re slashing .208/.277/.360 whereas averaging 3.39 runs.

“I am guessing each man in there proper now could be feeling a way of urgency of eager to contribute and eager to have that massive swing that will get us going,” Money stated. “It is simply not coming proper now.”

Whereas Díaz has discovered methods to contribute, the Rays’ different two All-Star hitters — Randy Arozarena and Wander Franco — have performed main components within the membership’s total offensive downturn.

Arozarena went 0-for-3 with a stroll and a strikeout on Sunday, bringing his July slash line to .191/.233/.324 with 4 walks and 21 strikeouts. Franco is slashing .182/.267/.303 this month after going 0-for-4 with a stroll and two strikeouts.

Loads of others have struggled, too. Harold Ramírez has a .523 OPS this month. Josh Lowe and Manuel Margot every has a .508 OPS, and Christian Bethancourt is slashing .167/.219/.167 in July.

“Our pitching has been excellent. I feel, offensively, we have to assist them slightly extra,” Bethancourt stated. “At first of the season, we have been hitting, [and the] pitching was simply not fairly there. Now, pitching is there, and we’re simply not fairly hitting. However we’ll discover a technique to get again collectively.”

There are nonetheless 59 video games remaining, with six to go earlier than the Aug. 1 Commerce Deadline. So the place do the Rays go from right here?

“We take pleasure in our time without work tomorrow, to begin with, and get again at it on Tuesday,” Bethancourt stated. “Attempt to win two video games towards the Marlins and take it from there.”

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Printed : 2023-07-23 23:14:42

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