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Monday, Aug 20, 2018
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Rays playing zombie baseball at worst time

ST. PETERSBURG

Despite piling up two runs, the Rays fell again to the Red Sox on Wednesday night.

At least we can now drop that winning the AL East nonsense.

At the worst possible time – as if there is ever a good time – the Rays are rolling out zombie baseball.

The night after flailing against Chris Sale, the Rays made 2016 Cy Young winner Rick Porcello look like, well, 2016 Cy Young winner Rick Porcello. Adeiny Hechevarria and Brad Miller did manage solo home runs, but that was all the Rays had to show for the four-hit barrage they leveled at Boston.

Throw in a slopfest in the field – errors, a wild pitch, a passed ball, runs and runs – and it seemed very nearly merciful that there were only 11,853 fans on hand to see for themselves.

If the size of that crowd for a big game against Boston seems like a joke, I might remind you that Wednesday wasn’t just a school night – it was a back-to-school night.

This just in: Aren’t like four months of baseball seasons on school nights? And I know they go to school in Boston, New York and Chicago, all over, in fact. Not to scare you, Rays fans, but they go to school in Montreal. Yes, even if they skip first-period metrics.

But why talk about people who didn’t show up when the Rays didn’t bother to do that?

It’s been like that since they returned home in the middle of this crucial 17-game stretch. They came back from New York and Houston 4-4, but they’ve lost four of five since then, scoring four runs in five games. Yowza.

They were sloppy all over the field Wednesday and it cost them. They were sloppy all over the plate.

The Rays did get a break Wednesday when starting pitcher Jake Odorizzi didn’t break anything. A low liner through the box left him with a right-foot contusion, and he is day-to-day. I’m sure ice was applied, but Odorizzi could have just as easily used any number of his teammates’ bats.

This Rays lineup has become beyond cold. They pound bad pitching. Have all year. They're beer-league softball sluggers against bad pitching. But when the pitching picks up, the Rays drop on down. At least at the moment.

It’s as if those career years from Corey Dickerson, Logan Morrison and Steven Souza Jr. were only going to carry them so far. Dickerson’s latest slide is an 0-for-17. Morrison hasn’t homered at the Trop since June 23. Wilson Ramos is hitting .122 over his last 18 games when not gimping around defensively with what still must be an aching knee.

The Rays wake up this morning one game over .500, having reasserted their identity as an average team in an average league. Maybe they never lost it. If they’re going to be anything more than that, they can start tonight when they begin a four-game series with first-place Cleveland.

It’s very nearly impossible to fall out of this wild-card race,

Lately, the Rays have seemed up to the task.

 

 

 

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