ST. PETERSBURG — The Rays hit with runners in scoring position, scored a run on a wild pitch, scored on a double and singles. In short, the offense came to life Saturday in an 8-0 victory against the visiting Astros.
It was the most runs the Rays scored since they scored eight May 25 against the Red Sox. That was the day before the start of the 10-game losing streak and the stretch that dragged the Rays down to the worst record in baseball.
“It’s such a long season,” DH Matt Joyce said, “sometimes you’re going to go through stretches where you struggle.”
The five hits with runners in scoring position were the most by the Rays since they had seven in the 14-inning win May 2 at New York, a span of 45 games.
“It’d be nice to get a lot more of these kinds of games,” RF Kevin Kiermaier said.
1B James Loney had his team-leading 22nd multi-hit game. He entered the game with one hit in his last 22 at-bats with runners in scoring position and was 2-for-3 with RISP.
Not this time, kid
Astros RHP Jake Buchanan made his major-league debut, something that hasn’t gone well for the Rays in recent years.
Entering the game, the last 10 starting pitchers making their major-league debuts against the Rays had won eight times. What’s more, seven of those pitchers turned in quality starts, and six allowed one or zero runs.
But the Rays reached Buchanan for two runs on four straight first-inning hits and added three more against him in the fifth inning.
In addition to recording the 1,000th strikeout of his career Friday, LHP David Price struck out 12 to become the first pitcher since Arizona’s Curt Schilling (9) and Randy Johnson (7) to record at least seven double-digit strikeout games in his team’s first 75 games of the season.
Price now leads the major leagues in innings pitched (1152⁄3), strikeouts (133), double-digit strikeout games (7) and strikeout-to-walk ratio (10.23). He’s also allowed a major league-high 116 hits and a major league-high 16 home runs.
“The only negative (this season) is he’s had a couple of big innings,” manager Joe Maddon said. “Otherwise, take away a couple of bad innings, his numbers would be ridiculous right now. The main thing is the great command of his fastball. He can throw that for a strike any time he wants.”
Bedard’s last stand?
With RHP Jeremy Hellickson (right elbow surgery) nearing the end of his minor-league rehab, LHP Erik Bedard could be nearing the end of his time with the Rays.
Bedard, who starts today, has five starts of four innings or fewer this season — the most in the majors. He has a 10.53 ERA in those starts, compared to a 1.40 ERA in his other seven starts.
The difference is Bedard is not throwing his curveball as much as he had earlier in the season. Bedard threw his curveball on only 14.1 percent of his pitches in his last start, a four-inning outing against the Orioles. That’s down from an average of 22.2 percent in his other starts.
“I still like his curveball a lot,” Maddon said. “If he’s able to get that pitch over the plate, that permits him to pitch more deeply in games, period.”
Saturday was the Rays’ ninth shutout of the season, tied with Toronto for second-most in the AL. Texas leads with 13. The nine shutouts are the most by the Rays through the first 76 games of a season. ... It was the 11th time in team history the Rays allowed one hit or fewer. It was the seventh time the lone hit was a single and the second time it was an infield single. ... Jake Odorizzi and Price were the first Rays pitchers to record at least 10 strikeouts in consecutive games since Price and James Shields had 11 each July 30-31, 2012 at Oakland. ... Maddon said INF Sean Rodriguez apologized for his eighth-inning base running blunder Friday when he tried to advance to second on a ball in the dirt and was thrown out.