June 26, 2012; Kansas City, MO, USA; Tampa Bay Rays manager Joe Maddon (70) walks to the mound to relieve relief pitcher J.P. Howell (39) in the eighth inning of the game against the Kansas City Royals at Kauffman Stadium. The Royals won 8-2. Mandatory Credit: Denny Medley-US PRESSWIRE
Whether you watched this embarrassing game or spent your night in a spreadsheet, you know the Rays were terrible last night. Monday can somewhat be explained by a tired team who played three games of baseball in 28 hours and then hopped on a plane to fly half way across the country. Last night? How do you explain a team that won two starts against two of the best lefties in the game then losing to Bruce Chen?
The team amassed just five hits against the junk-balling lefty through seven innings while scoring its only runs on a gift sacrifice fly that should have been an out and Brooks Conrad crushing a home run that landed in Branson. The Rays now try to avoid being swept by the Royals and have to face yet another nondescript lefty today in Everett Teaford who is being recalled from the minors for the start today.
The Rays had an early 2-0 lead but the lolfense reared its ugly head again early in the 3rd inning. Chris Archer left a pitch up that Alcides Escobar drilled off the fall in center. Upton quickly corralled the ball, threw it in perfectly to his cutoff man Sean Rodriguez, who proceeded to throw the ball in the direction of the on-deck circle rather than home plate allowing Escobar to move over to third. On the very next play, Rodriguez then booted a one hopper right at him off the bat of Gordon who scored a few pitches later when Yuniesky Betancourt deposited a hanging slider into the leftfield bleachers.
The Rays would go on to collect just three hits after the third inning last night and go down without much of a fight. B.J. Upton went 0-4 out of the leadoff spot with a strikeout while the 6-9 spots reached base just once all night. That included Sean Rodriguez who is now hitting just .197/.243/.531 in June after showing signs of improving in May. Unless he hits a hot streak in the final days, June will be the fourth month in the last seven in which Rodriguez's monthly OPS has been below .600.
Simply put, this team cannot get healthy quickly enough. The team is now sub .500 since Evan Longoria went down and has gone 2-5 since Matt Joyce left with his back issue. Luke Scott should be back by tomorrow, but until the team gets its middle of the order threats back, the offense will be like a box of clearance rack chocolates.
Archer was not as sharp as he was against the Nationals and location hurt him more than the defensive issues in the game. He generated ten whiffs on the evening, eight of which came off his slider. He threw 47 fastballs on the evening, but only 23 were for strikes. He threw 54 pitches for strikes out of the 92 pitches thrown on the evening.