Cleveland Indians at Tampa Bay Rays series primer
MAY 09, 2014 11:00a ET
There are certain inexplicable things about this Tampa Bay Rays season, now more than a month old. Why do games last so long? Why can't starters go deeper? Why is it such a struggle to maintain momentum?
The Baltimore Orioles have found a place within the mystery. The Rays are 0-5 against them. Tampa Bay has beaten every other team in the American League East at least twice. The losses to the Orioles have come in all forms: blowouts (7-1 on April 14), shutouts (3-0 on April 16) and close-calls (4-3 on Wednesday). It's hard to lose five consecutive games to one team.
The most recent series at Tropicana Field dashed the good feelings gained after a 10-game road trip from April 25-May 4. The Rays came home on a high after salvaging four victories in the final five games of a trek against the Chicago White Sox, Boston Red Sox and New York Yankees. They looked like they had found something. The bullpen, despite a ridiculous workload, had discovered a groove. The offense did just enough. There were many things to like.
Now, it's back to square one.
Nothing about the latest three losses to Baltimore was encouraging. No starter went deeper than the 5 2/3 innings that left-hander Cesar Ramos pitched Wednesday. This series featured starts by right-hander Chris Archer and left-hander David Price -- Tampa Bay's two best arms at this point with so many injuries within the rotation -- but the Rays were outscored a combined 8-4 in those games. Everyone is feeling some fatigue about a 15-20 start.
''They're throwing some decent arms against us,'' Rays catcher Ryan Hanigan told reporters Thursday night. ''But this is a team we're going to have to face quite a bit, so we're going to have to make adjustments and figure it out.''
Easier said than done, apparently.
Now the Rays turn their attention to the Cleveland Indians before starting a seven-game road trip out West. The Indians aren't the Orioles, which may be the best news for Tampa Bay right now. The Rays must find a way to win at least two games here to capture some positive vibes again.
Here's a look at the upcoming Rays-Indians series:
SCHEDULE AND PROBABLE PITCHERS
May 9 (Sun Sports -- pregame coverage begins at 6:30 p.m.)
Corey Kluber (2-3, 3.60 ERA) vs. Jake Odorizzi (1-3, 6.83 ERA)
May 10 (FOX Sports 1 -- 7 p.m.)
Zach McAllister (3-2, 3.18 ERA) vs. Erik Bedard (1-1, 4.35 ERA)
May 11 (Sun Sports -- pregame coverage begins at 1 p.m.)
Josh Tomlin (1-0, 1.35 ERA) vs. Chris Archer (2-1, 4.91 ERA)
Michael Brantley (Indians): He hit .400 (12 for 30) with two home runs and nine RBI in seven games from May 2-8. He had at least one hit in each game in the span, and he had three games with at least two. He has hit .289 with six home runs and 29 RBI this season.
Wil Myers (Rays): He hit .357 (10 for 28) with two home runs and seven RBI in six games from May 2-8. He had at least one hit in each game in the span, and he produced three multi-hit games along the way. He has hit .256 with four home runs and 18 RBI this season.
Carlos Santana (Indians): He hit .115 (3 for 26) with six strikeouts in seven games from May 2-8. He was hitless in five games during the stretch, from May 3-7. He has hit .143 with four home runs and 11 RBI this season.
Ben Zobrist (Rays): He hit .143 (3 for 21) with five strikeouts in five games from May 2-8. He was held hitless twice in the stretch, and he has gone four games without a hit in May. He has hit .265 with three home runs and nine RBI this season.
19: Length of time, in minutes, of a power-outage delay at Tropicana Field during the eighth inning of the Rays' 5-3 loss to the Orioles on Tuesday. Duke Energy, which supplies energy to the stadium, said a lightning strike caused the break in play.
2: Home runs allowed by Ramos to Adam Jones in the Rays' 4-3 loss to the Orioles on Wednesday at Tropicana Field. It was Jones' fourth career multi-home run game and his second on the road (first was May 29, 2012, at the Toronto Blue Jays).
11: Runners left on base by the Rays in their 3-1 loss to the Orioles on Thursday at Tropicana Field. Tampa Bay has produced just eight runs in games against Baltimore this season.
''It was me. I was missing the pitches. I was making bad pitches. They got to me. It's my fault.'' -- Reliever Joel Peralta after he allowed two runs and three hits in the eighth inning of the loss to the Orioles on Tuesday at Tropicana Field. He allowed runs in three of five appearances from April 29-May 6.
''My two-seamer, I was able to keep it down and use my change-up too against an aggressive team.'' -- Ramos after he allowed two runs and three hits in a career-long 5 2/3 innings during the loss to the Orioles on Wednesday at Tropicana Field. He has a 1-1 record with a 2.96 ERA in 10 appearances this season.
''Our goal right now is to figure out a way to get through it. We all want to win. We all want to do our part. When it doesn't work out, it's definitely frustrating.'' -- Third baseman Evan Longoria after the Rays' loss to the Orioles on Thursday at Tropicana Field. He went 2 for 11 with four strikeouts against Baltimore.
May 9 -- Tampa Bay Times Ticket Tandem Rays Ladies Wristlet
May 10 -- DJ Kitty Plush Hat
May 11 -- Rays Sun Hat
May 12-14 -- Rays at Mariners