ANAHEIM, Calif. - On day five of the losing streak Tampa Bay Rays manager Joe Maddon turned to Winston Churchill for inspiration. Quoting the British prime minister who led his country through a much bigger fight than the one currently facing the Rays, Maddon said, “If you're going through hell, the best thing to do is keep going.” The Rays will keep going, even though their hitting continues to look like heck. Throw in a bad start by Chris Archer Monday and a poor night for the bullpen that ended with Sam Fuld recording the final out of the night and you have an 11-2 loss at Angel Stadium.
The Rays, losers of five straight, have lost eight of their last nine and seen their lead over third-place Baltimore in the wild card standings shrink to two games. When asked if there is a measure of concern in the clubhouse, Ben Zobrist said, “Of course, it's September. You have to win games in September. There's still a lot of time left. We're still in a good spot. We just have to turn it around (tonight). That's the number one goal, focus on (tonight) and get a win and get back on the right track.” As they did while getting swept in Oakland to begin this 10-game West Coast road trip, the Rays continued to squander scoring chances. They were 1-for-11 with runners in scoring position and left 12 on base. “It's hard to build momentum in the game when you're not getting anything to fall,” said Zobrist, who actually drove in both Rays runs with a first-inning home run and a sixth-inning single. Angels starter Garrett Richards, who lasted five innings, walked a career-high seven batters in the span of four innings, twice loading the bases with the help of walks. The Rays came away with zero runs. “You can look at the final score and all that stuff,” Maddon said, “but we saw 103 pitches when he was in there and only had two hits. That's out biggest problem.” What's more, Richards missed the strike zone officially 51 times, though the Rays helped him some by chasing pitches out of the strike zone. Wil Myers did just that when he swung at what have ball four, a pitch that was up and in, to end the fourth inning and leave the bases loaded after Richards walked three batters that inning. “You just do a couple of things there and that sheds an entirely different light on this game and we didn't,” Maddon said. Richards became the third pitcher to beat the Rays while walking at least seven batters. Edwin Jackson of the Diamondbacks walked eight during his no-hitter June 25, 2010 at Tropicana Field, and Dan Wright of the White Sox walked seven Devil Rays on Aug. 6, 2001, and still won. Maddon said he thinks his team is pressing. “Pressing is a good word,” he said. “Whenever you don't hit you look flat, period. That's any team, I don't care if you're in Little League or the major leagues. When you don't hit you look flat, because obviously the guys on the field are a little disappointed. They want to do better. “So I think it's more pressing that anything. I want them to chill out and come out and play.” Archer lasted 3 2/3 innings for his shortest non injury-related outing of the season. He allowed five runs on nine hits, both career highs. “It's a little disheartening because that was a game we needed to win,” Archer said. A little help from the offense might have changed Archer's night. But he did allow the Angels to score their first two runs with two-out hits and then let the game get away when Eric Aybar capped off a three-run fourth inning with a two-run homer down the right field line. “I didn't control the damage very well,” Archer said. The Angels teed off on the Rays bullpen as well. Maddon wanted Josh Lueke to pick up the final 2 2/3 innings, but Lueke struggled in the bottom of the eighth. With Lueke's pitch count at 49 and Maddon not wishing to use another reliever, he turned to Fuld. Fuld came on with runners at second and third and two out and got J.B. Shuck to fly out to center field. Fuld became the third position player to pitch for the Rays, joining Wade Boggs (1999) and Josh Wilson (2007). Noteworthy After the game Maddon announced RHP Jeremy Hellickson will start Wednesday's game ... Delmon Young singled in the ninth inning for his first hit as a Ray ... C Jose Lobaton set a career high by walking three times ... Slumping CF Desmond Jennings had two hits and two walks in four trips to the plate. firstname.lastname@example.org (813) 259-7227 Twitter: @RMooneyTBO