ST. PETERSBURG -- They play Dan Hartman’s 1978 disco hit, “Instant Replay,” whenever there is a replay challenge this season at Tropicana Field, and right now that song pretty much describes the way the Tampa Bay Rays have played during this homestand.
Not enough offense. Too many innings from the bullpen.
The Rays lost 6-3 on Friday to the Cleveland Indians in front of 17,541 at Tropicana Field.
They scored a run in the ninth and left the bases-loaded, so there’s another verse to same old song that’s been playing during this four-game losing streak.
They Rays get close, but can’t finish the job.
“You look at such a wonderful conclusion to the trip a couple of days ago and then you come back and you lose some really mean games over the next four days,” Rays manager Joe Maddon said. “Primarily, we have not hit. You can talk about the bullpen, we had one bad innings. Primarily we have now scored 10 runs in four games. That’s hard.”
The Rays have six straight at the Trop, the longest home losing streak in one season since 2005. The last time the Rays lost six consecutive home games was in 2010-2011 when the lost the final home game of the 2010 and the first five home games in 2011.
The Rays bullpen allowed all six runs Friday. They have now allowed 10 runs in 15 1/3 innings on this homestand and have been tagged with three of the four losses.
“They’re getting lambasted right now,” Maddon said.
The bullpen had to pick up four innings Friday night, but Maddon will take that since it came behind Jake Odorizzi’s best outing of the season -- five innings, five hits, zero runs and a career-high 11 strikeouts.
Odorizzi mixed all his pitches and even unleased a 68 mph curveball on occasions to keep the Indians off balance.
“That was the game plan,” Odorizzi said. “ Try to keep it simple.”
Rays pitching coach Jim Hickey spent the past few days working more on Odorizzi’s mental game than his pitching mechanics. The young right-hander has little trouble negotiating his way the first time through the batting order. It’s the second and third times through that give him fits.
Before the game Maddon said the focus was on better game-planing.
“Just understanding what he does well, primarily,” Maddon said. “Self-awareness is a really wonderful quality to have. You know they’re major league players, but don’t forget they’re young. Their perception of what they do well or not is probably skewed a bit.”
Maddon reiterated what he has been saying all along, that Odorizzi has major league stuff. He just has to learn how to use it to his advantage.
“Meaning what do you do well and when do you do these different things well, and understand how that relates to pitching in (Friday’s) game in general,” Maddon said. “We spent some time on that trying to give him that awareness moment, because his stuff is good. I’ll defend his stuff. Now, how do you utilize your stuff? And that’s where we’re at with him right now.”
Brad Boxberger, Joel Peralta and Brandon Gomes followed Odorizzi and allowed six runs. All three gave up home runs, with Mike Avile’s three-run homer off Gomes in the seventh as the backbreaker.
David DeJesus drove in two runs and scored another with a four-hit night that included three doubles. His third double scored Logan Forsythe in the ninth inning and cut the lead to 6-3.
Ben Zobrist walked to load the bases, as he Rays had the tying run at the plate in the ninth inning for the fourth straight game.
James Loney flied out to right to end the game.