Tampa Bay Rays
Rays notebook: April performance far from team’s best
KANSAS CITY, Mo. - The Rays turned in their first losing record in April since 2009 when they finished the month 12-14 after Tuesday’s 8-2 loss to the Royals.
“(It was) kind of mediocre overall,” manager Joe Maddon said. “We’re definitely capable of more. I actually feel kind of fortunate that we’re in the position that we’re in.”
Maddon compared the Rays’ start to an NFL or NBA team that is trailing at the half but keeping the game close.
“I think there’s something positive to be derived from that, because that’s who we are right now,” Maddon said. “We haven’t played nearly as well as we can and we’re only two games under .500.”
The Rays have not put together many complete games this season where all facets of their game are in synch — pitching, hitting and defense. Also, they lost 10 of their 14 road games. The defense has been solid. They are fourth in the AL in fielding percentage at .989 and have committed only 10 errors. The starting pitching has not lived up to its reputation. LHP David Price, RHP Jeremy Hellickson and RHP Roberto Hernandez each have one victory. Where would the team be without LHP Matt Moore’s 5-0 start?
The offense? The Rays turned into a power team halfway through the month, but the production has been game-to-game. They finished the month with a .239 team average.
“Our game has been so scattered, there’s been no flow to it yet,” Maddon said.
The Rays had four chances to climb back to .500 since April 8 and lost all four times. Maddon said he could list only a couple of games when he thought the Rays played like they are capable of playing.
“We’ve been a little bit off, for a lack of a better term,” Maddon said. “But I do have a lot of faith, and I know the worm will turn. You want it to turn a little bit quickly or sooner.”
The good news is the Rays entered Wednesday’s game two games below .500 and only six games behind the first-place Red Sox. Maddon, naturally, feels the Rays have a 15-wins-in-20-games streak in them.
“But it’s up to us,” he said. “We have to be consistent in all areas of the game. It’s not just one. The pitching has to be consistent, the hitting has to be consistent. I think for the most part the defense has been the most steady, although we can get better there, too.”
The power company RF Matt Joyce’s first-inning home run extended the Rays’ run of consecutive games with a home run to 16, breaking the mark of 15 set in 2009.
“I thought our power was underestimated or underrated,” Maddon said.
The Rays homered four times in the first 11 games. They hit 26 home runs in the next 15.
Only the Loney 1B James Loney led the Rays with a .373 batting average in April. Tuesday was his fifth game of at least three hits, and all five occurred during a 13-game stretch.
His .373 average was the club record for the month of April.
Hold that runner Rays catchers Jose Molina (2-for-18) and Jose Lobaton (1-for-11) had combined to throw out three of 29 base stealers entering Wednesday’s game. While it’s easy to place the blame on the catchers, Maddon said the fault lies with the pitchers.
“It’s horrible, and a lot of it is good jumps by the runners,” Maddon said. “I think we got to do a better job of better times to the plate and holding runners on. I think it starts there.”
Dress warm Today’s afternoon game is in jeopardy because of a storm that will bring temperatures in the 30s with rain and snow.
“If the weather report is close to being factual, it’s going to be difficult to play that game,” Maddon said. “It’s not even good football weather there. But being from the commonwealth of Pennsylvania and being in rain in those kinds of elements I still don’t like it.”
Noteworthy RHP Alex Cobb, Price and Moore took batting practice Wednesday afternoon in preparation for the weekend series in Colorado. … Teams averaged 7.65 strikeouts in April, the second-highest total in major league history, according to the Elias Sports Bureau. The Rays averaged 7.42 strikeouts a game after averaging 8.17 strikeouts during the 2012 season.