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Monday, Oct 23, 2017
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Tampa Bay Rays

Poor offense leads to more heartache

CLEVELAND - Luke Scott, having set the franchise mark for offensive futility earlier in the evening, stood in the visitor's clubhouse late Thursday night and tapped his heart several times with his right fist. "It really does hurt. It's cut my heart in two," Scott said after extending his streak of hitless at-bats to 39. Another hitless night for Scott in another loss for the Tampa Bay Rays This time it was 3-1 to the Cleveland Indians at Progressive Field, the Rays' second straight loss and their eighth in their past 11 games.
The Rays managed only four hits, proving the offensive drought extended well beyond Scott, who made his first start of the season at first base in an effort to shed the slump but went 0-for-3. "If anyone feels it, it's me. I feel it right here," he said as he pressed his fist to his heart. "I'm just not getting the results that I want, that I'm working hard for. I want to be there, I want to do well. I want to help my team win. We struggle offensively. We are definitely a much better team than what we're showing." Scott passed Jose Cruz Jr., whose 0-for-37 streak in 2004 had stood as the worst slump in team history. The major league record is held by Eugenio Velez, who was 0-for-46 during a stretch that began in 2010 and extended to 2011. Velez has not played in the majors since making the 46th out, so his streak is still active. "Obviously (Scott) hates it," Rays manager Joe Maddon said. "But, while he's going through this very tough moment he's been a very good teammate and we all do appreciate that about him, and that does matter." Scott grounded out to second base in his first at-bat, popped out to the catcher in his second and flied out to right field in is final at-bat before being replaced at first base in the bottom of the seventh by Carlos Peña, who began the game as the designated hitter. That meant the pitcher had to bat, unless Maddon went to his bench for pinch-hitters, which he didn't have to do because the Rays offense just wouldn't turn over. They did hit the ball hard off Indians starter Josh Tomlin. Ben Zobrist drove the ball to right field all four times up with nothing to show for it. Will Rhymes tripled off the right-field wall, missing a home run by inches. That Rhymes scored the Rays' lone run when Jose Molina grounded out to shortstop kind of summed up the evening for the visiting bats. "We hit the ball just right at them," center fielder B.J. Upton said. "We had good at-bats. The ball didn't fall for us. We know we played a good game. We swung the bats well. There was nothing to show for it." Jeremy Hellickson, pitching for the first time since taking a line drive off his right shin, paid for the lack of offense. He went six innings for the first time in four starts, struggled with the command of his fastball, but he allowed only five hits and two runs. Those runs scored on solo home runs by Shin-Soo Choo in the first inning and Michael Brantley in the second. Both landed in the right-field seats. Travis Haffner added an insurance run in the eighth with a long home to right off Jake McGee. The loss dropped the Rays to 4-13 against the American League Central this season. "We've been pitched as well," Maddon said. "That's part if the deal with us. We're not going to bludgeon you to death." There are a number of big outs in the Rays lineup. Peña is batting .197 and Molina's average dipped below .200 to .195 with an 0-for-3 night. But no one is struggling as much as Scott. Scott said he prays every morning on his knees for a change of fortune. But after admitting his heart is breaking after the game, he managed a smile. "I desperately want this to change, I really do," he said. "Hopefully (today) is the day."

rmooney@tampatrib.com (813) 259-7227
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