Stacking the lineup with nine right handed batters against a southpaw pitcher is usually a recipe for success. That is, unless the southpaw is Clayton Kershaw. He's the best pitcher in baseball and showed the Rays exactly why on Sunday night.
He held the Rays to three hits and two runs in his eight innings, lowering his MLB leading ERA to 1.88. He rubbed salt in the wound by slapping a two-out, two run single to right field in the second inning. The Rays first hit didn't come until the fifth inning when Yunel Escobar lead off with a single. He'd eventually score on a pinch-hit, two out triple by Sam Fuld but by that time the Rays were already down six runs. It's never a good sign when you pinch hit for a pitcher that early in a game. It's really not a good sign when you're pinch hitting for a reliever, but Jeremy Hellickson didn't give them much of a choice.
He soft spoken right handed failed to make it through five innings for the third straight start. He allowed seven hits and four earned runs in just three innings. Hellickson's success is dependent on keeping the ball down and he failed miserably last night. Every ball the Dodgers hit was belt high. His spot in the rotation isn't in jeopardy, though he better find a solution to what's ailing him, and quick. Alex Torres replaced him to start the fourth inning, but was shaking for the second straight outing, allowing two runs. Josh Lueke pitched the fifth and sixth innings, also allowing two runs. Cesar Ramos threw two scoreless innings to close it out, so he has that going for him, which is nice.
As for the offense, it's tough to score when the first four batters in the order go a combined 0-15 with zero walks. Wil Myers did pick up an RBI on a sac fly in the eighth inning, so his night wasn't a total loss. The Dodgers even tried to help the Rays by committing four errors, to no avail.
The five consecutive losses is the most by the team since 2011, and it's the first multi-series road trip where the Rays went winless since 2008. Silver lining: They made the playoffs both those seasons. The Red Sox lost so the Rays are still just three games back. Alex Cobb is set to come off the disabled list Thursday, with Matt Moore not too far behind. Things are picking up. At least, I hope.