ST. PETERSBURG — On Monday, Tampa Bay Rays manager Joe Maddon called his team the worst in the major leagues. On Tuesday, Maddon's team reached a new low by not only drawing comparisons to the 2002 Devil Rays, the worst team in franchise history, but sinking to a new depth of futility.
The 1-0 loss to the visiting St. Louis Cardinals was a franchise-record third straight shutout. It also ran the Rays' streak of scoreless innings to 28, passing the previous mark of 26 set by the 106-loss '02 Devil Rays.
And if that wasn't bad enough, the Rays were hitless in six at-bats with a runner in scoring position to give them just 10 hits in their last 101 at-bats in such situations.
“The law of averages, how the game plays statistically speaking, all of the above, the word is, kind of weird to watch,” Maddon said. “It just doesn't stay that negative for that long, normally, it just doesn't, but it has. This is truly one of those anomaly moments.”
Tuesday's loss in front a pro-St. Louis crowd of 17,226 at Tropicana Field was the Rays' 14th in their last 15 games. It was also their major league-tying 10th shutout of the season, the fifth in their last 10 games.
The last team to be blanked in three straight games was the 2004 Kansas City Royals.
“We hit some good balls, just right at some guys,” James Loney said. “They're trying to get us out too, on the other side, so give them credit.”
The Rays managed seven hits off Cardinals starter Adam Wainwright, yet they failed to get the big hit whenever the opportunity presented itself.
The Rays left the bases loaded in the fourth inning against Wainwright and again in the eighth against three relievers.
“It's baffling in some regards,” Maddon said. “I've been through this before in the minor-league level, even here before with the Devil Rays, but not with this group of names. It's more difficult with this group of names. It's good names.”
Making the night even more frustrating was that Jake Odorizzi turned in the best outing of his big-league career.
Odorizzi grew up 35 miles east of St. Louis, in Highland, Ill. He was raised on the Cardinals. His entire family and all of his friends were Cardinals fans. He knew Tuesday's game would air on Fox Sports Midwest, and he knew everyone back home would be watching, because that's what everyone back home does when the Cardinals are on TV.
Odorizzi wanted to give a good showing for the folks back home, kind of let them know the only son of Mike and Juli Odorizzi was doing OK in Tampa Bay.
And that's what he did.
Odorizzi pitched a career-high 71⁄3 innings. He didn't allow a base runner until he walked Matt Holliday with two outs in the fourth inning and didn't allow a hit until Jhonny Peralta grounded one through the infield with two outs in the fifth inning.
The shutout ended in the sixth inning, on Holliday's two-out home run to left-center field.
“It was special to have the night I had against (Wainwright) and gave him a pretty good run for my money, just came up a little short,” Odorizzi said. “From a memorable standout, I will remember this one for a while.”
It was a pitching performance worthy of a win, but like Chris Archer and David Price, who pitched for the Rays on Sunday and Monday, respectively, it wasn't in the, ah, cards.
Combined, Archer (0 runs), Price (3) and Odorizzi (1) allowed four runs in 212⁄3 innings. They have a loss and two no-decisions to show for their efforts “Right now it's just difficult as a team not being able to get the runs, get the big hits when we need it,” Odorizzi said, “but all we can do is focus on pitching. But one of these days it's going to break through and both are going to match up and we'll be a pretty tough team.”