St. Louis Cardinals at Tampa Bay Rays series primer
JUN 10, 2014 10:12a ET
This problem is beyond a medicine man's healing touch.
Give Tampa Bay Rays manager Joe Maddon this much: He's never one to think inside the box to solve what ails his team. We saw various efforts early last season to loosen the mood -- practically an ark of visitors that included penguins, a python and a cockatoo -- and the intention reached the desired result. Attention was deflected from the Rays' struggles, and in time, they recovered to earn their fourth postseason berth since 2008.
On Monday, Seminole medicine man Bobby Henry delivered rain above Tropicana Field. But once more, there was a drought of runs from the Rays inside the dome. That's the most concerning trend: They've been shut out four times in nine June games and nine times this season, most in the American League and second-most in the majors, behind the San Diego Padres' 10.
Reality check: Last year, the Rays were shut out eight times overall.
This, long ago, felt different than 2013. The slide has become more sinister. The 2013 team had hiccups, but the current squad owns a nasty case of whooping cough because of bats that turn silent at the worst possible times.
Tampa Bay has hit .105 (10 for 95) with runners in scoring position in this 1-13 skid since May 26. The Rays have scored 35 runs in this span, the fewest in a similar window since producing 35 from April 14-30, 2004. This is their most damaging 14-game tumble since the dark hours of September 2009, when they went 1-13 from Sept. 3-16.
"It rained heavily," Maddon said Monday. "We did ask Bobby for more hits. Maybe he thought I said more rain. Nevertheless, just be patient with all this. ... Maybe it was a cleansing rain."
For Maddon's sake, he better hope so. A quick cleansing sounds appropriate. After all, life doesn't become easier with the St. Louis Cardinals presenting right-handers Adam Wainwright and Michael Wacha on Tuesday and Wednesday at Tropicana Field.
Sometimes when it rains, it pours.
Here's a look at the upcoming Rays-Cardinals series ...
SCHEDULE AND PROBABLE PITCHERS
June 10 (Sun Sports -- pregame coverage begins at 6:30 p.m.)
Adam Wainwright (8-3, 2.31 ERA) vs. Jake Odorizzi (2-6, 5.31 ERA)
June 11 (Sun Sports -- pregame coverage begins at 6:30 p.m.)
Michael Wacha (4-4, 2.61 ERA) vs. Erik Bedard (3-4, 3.61 ERA)
Matt Carpenter (Cardinals): He hit .370 (10 for 27) with one home run and five RBI in seven games from June 2-8. He had three multi-hit games in the span, including a 5-for-5 day with two RBI in a victory over the Kansas City Royals on June 4. He has hit .299 with two home runs and 23 RBI this season.
Kevin Kiermaier (Rays): He hit .391 (9 for 23) with one home run and one RBI in seven games from June 3-9. He had a hit in all but one game in the span (June 7 against Seattle), and he produced two multi-hit games in the stretch. He has hit .357 with three home runs and four RBI this season.
Yadier Molina (Cardinals): Molina hit .167 (4 for 24) with three strikeouts in six games from June 2-8. He went hitless in three games during the span. He has hit .294 with five home runs and 23 RBI this season.
Ben Zobrist (Rays): He hit .172 (5 for 29) with six strikeouts in seven games from June 3-9. He went hitless in three games in the span. He has hit .241 with five home runs and 13 RBI this season.
10: Length of the Rays' losing streak before beating the Seattle Mariners 4-0 on Friday at Tropicana Field. They won for the first time since May 25 over the Boston Red Sox, and they avoided setting the majors' longest losing streak this season (the Red Sox lost 10 games from May 15-25).
17: Times the Rays struck out in a 5-0 loss to the Mariners on Sunday at Tropicana Field, tying a franchise record set five times, most recently against the Toronto Blue Jays on Aug. 8, 2010. Right-hander Felix Hernandez struck out a career-high 15, tying Red Sox left-hander Jon Lester for most in the majors this season.
2009: The last time the Mariners claimed a season series against the Rays before this year, following their clinching of a 4-3 mark against Tampa Bay with a 3-0 victory Monday at Tropicana Field. Seattle won five of eight games between the teams five years ago.
"It was perfect." -- Tom Zimmer, Don Zimmer's son, after a 20-minute pregame ceremony Saturday at Tropicana Field to honor the Rays' late senior adviser. Don died last Wednesday at age 83. The venerable former player, coach and manager spent 66 years in professional baseball.
"I don't know what it is. Sometimes, I just feel like this year has just been one of those years where you get a bit lucky and sometimes you get a little unlucky, and you've just got to take it on the chin." -- Closer Grant Balfour after he allowed five runs and four hits in the Rays' loss Sunday. On Monday, Maddon announced that the Rays would use a closer-by-committee approach moving forward.
"We've earned that. We absolutely earned that title right now. I don't believe that we are. But we absolutely earned that right to be considered that. Do I believe that we're going to get better? Absolutely." -- Maddon after the Rays' loss Monday, when talking about being considered baseball's worst team. With the defeat, they dropped to 24-41, the worst record in the majors.
June 13-15 -- Rays at Astros