BOSTON -- The Rays dressed in white as they left Fenway Park late Sunday afternoon, a white-out dress theme for the flight to Miami. Though on the heels of a season-high sixth straight loss, maybe looking like white flags wasn’t such a good idea.
The Rays managed five hits Sunday during their 4-0 loss to the Red Sox. They are now a season-high 11 games under .500 -- 4 1/2 games back of the fourth place Red Sox.
One game into June, the Rays hardly resemble the playoff contender they were supposed to be when the season began, and the franchise-record $77 million payroll looks less and less like money well-spent.
“We always try to temper our expectations but clearly we thought we’d be positioned better at this point,” owner Stuart Sternberg said before the game.
The Rays are hitting .214 and scored only 16 runs during the losing streak, and 11 of those runs came during the first two nights in Toronto. The Rays have gone 14 straight games without the starting pitcher earning the win.
Wil Myers went on the disabled list Sunday with a sprained right wrist, making him the third player to go on the DL during this road trip.
All the losing and poor play is fueling speculation that the Rays will be sellers at the July 31 trade deadline. David Price, anyone?
“We’re still two months away from that point,” Sternberg said.
The owner referenced 2011 when they Rays seemed likely to dump James Shields and B.J. Upton at the trade deadline since their chances of reaching the postseason was fading. They didn’t, because they felt the team was capable of making another run, which the Rays did. They caught the Red Sox and won the American League Wild Card on the final night of the season.
The belief in the clubhouse remains just as strong as it did in 2011 and again last season when the Rays returned to the playoffs.
However, outside of manager Joe Maddon, there seems to be an emerging sense of urgency.
“It’s not early any more,” said Alex Cobb, who faces the Marlins tonight. “I think in the next month or so it’s going to go one or two ways, so we have to make sure we take care of business and make good fortune happen for us instead of waiting for it.”
Evan Longoria said the Rays need to start doing the little things right so they can have an opportunity to cash in a big moment during a game. On Sunday, right fielder Kevin Kiermaier allowed two runners to move into scoring position in the fourth inning when he over-threw a cutoff man and left fielder Sean Rodriguez allowed two runs to score that same inning when he didn’t catch Brock Holt’s fly ball.
That was basically the ball game.
“I do think the belief is still there that this thing is going to turn around. My only concern is that we get ourselves in a position where we’re too far back and, as you can see, the teams that are in front of us right now are starting to play better,” Longoria said. “The further back you get, even if you do get hot and start playing well, you can’t put yourself too far behind, you can’t dig yourself too big of a hole, so that’s where we’re at.”
Said Sternberg, “I won’t say worried. We’re concerned. We’d like to be in a better shape but we are what we are and we can really only deal with what’s ahead of us the next game and the next week and month, right now.”
And to do that the Rays need to hit. Five runs in four games is not going to cut it even if the starting pitching was at the top of its game, which it isn’t.
“For the most part just not making that really good hard contact that we need to make on a consistent basis,” Maddon said. “I really, truly, absolutely believe our offense is a lot better than this. We just to stay with the guys, keep encouraging them. Right now it’s a confidence issue with a lot of them.”
Said Longoria, “It just seems like right now, if we get eight hits in a game, we’re not putting anything together. They’re scattered hits. We’re not bunching them together. It seems like we only have one, maybe two opportunities a game to score runs. It’s tough to do that when as a group you’re not swinging the bat well. The confidence level just isn’t there overall. It’s really frustrating. This is probably the worst we’ve been for an extended period of time for as long as I’ve been here.”
This is their worst start after 57 games since 2006, the days of the Devil Rays.