The Tampa Bay Rays (75-66) needed something positive to happen after losing seven of their past eight games before Monday. After just being swept by the Oakland Athletics (79-58) this weekend the Rays came into Los Angeles to face off against the Angels (64-72). The Rays fell once again dropping their fifth straight game. Rays play the Angels tonight with Matt Moore returning and Wednesday and Thursday. Angels just took a series with Tampa at Tropicana Field last week.
On Monday the Rays needed to win due to the Red Sox losing. They had a chance to cut it to 4.5 games back but just couldn't do it. Chris Archer was missing his spots and gave up nine hits and five runs. He departed the game in the fourth inning as Tampa Bay was down 5-1. Ben Zobrist put the first pitch he saw into the seats to take a 1-0 lead but then it went downhill from there. The Rays had plenty of men on base and could not bring them home. It was 11-2 in the eighth inning and Tampa Bay had left eleven men on base as the bullpen gave up at least another six runs.
The Rays lineup has not been able to produce over the last week or so as this is a big time concern. Maddon has consistently said he is not going to change anything and he knows they will come out of it. We all trust in Joe Maddon but sometimes it really is tough. Tampa Bay needs a spark and with the expanding roster somebody needs to come in and do something positive. Wil Myers, Evan Longoria and Desmond Jennings are some big right handed batters that are just flat out struggling to see the ball right now. Nobody is having productive outs and moving the runners over with men on base. Maybe it is time for a different approach if the Rays can't seem to get that timely hit. This offense has been a motor all year and this is probably the best offense Rays fans have ever seen but they are in a major slump right now.
Sunday in Oakland the Rays basically gave up as they were pitching a bullpen pitcher as a starter in Jamey Wright. Tampa Bay lost 5-1 and continued to struggle offensively. The only run was provided by a James Loney blast which was the first home run the Rays batters had hit in six games. Rays batters have only scored 17 runs in this eight-game slide before Monday.
Saturday in Oakland Alex Cobb pitched fantastic throwing a complete game but in a losing effort 2-1. On a positive note that was the eighth complete game for the Rays pitching staff. This is the most complete games in the majors this season. The Rays batters went 1 for 10 with runners in scoring position so the chances were there but could not bring them in once again.
On Friday it was another close game the Rays lost 4-3. Price was on the hill and pitched well in seven innings of work but it was just not enough as the offense struggled and Joel Peralta gave up the winning run in the eighth inning. The bullpen has not been what we have seen in years past. Sometimes you just don't know who to trust anymore out of the pen. The Rays rallied in the 8th inning as they were down 3-1 to tie it 3-3 with a double by James Loney scoring Ben Zobrist and Evan Longoria. It did not matter as Oakland took the lead back in their next at bat in another heart breaking loss.
After the Angels the Rays head to Seattle for this weekend series with the Mariners (62-75). Tampa Bay must get back within striking range when they play the Boston Red Sox (82-57) on September 10 at the Trop. They are now 5 1/2 games back and need to get it within two or three to have a chance to tie or take the lead in the AL East. This next week out west are absolutely must win games if they want to take the AL East from the Red Sox. August was very rough for the Rays compared to their amazing July. September needs to be just as amazing if they want to win the division. The wild card picture is one thing they may have to start worrying about if they can't get this under control soon.