CHICAGO — Rays manager Joe Maddon described the first month of the season as “nonfortuitous.” How non? His team couldn’t even get rained out Monday night.
But, as Maddon said, returning to Chicago later this season for a makeup game brings no guarantees. Just look at what happened last August when the Rays returned to Kansas City for the same reason.
So, the Rays were able to get Monday’s game in against the White Sox despite threatening skies that finally gave way to rain in the seventh inning. By then it was too late.
The Rays lost 7-3, dropping three of four games at U.S. Cellular Field to start this 10-game, three-city road trip that resumes tonight in Boston.
“They beat us,” Maddon said. “They beat us fair and square. They outplayed us over the course of the four games. They are hot, and we’re not.”
Maddon compared his team’s play of late to Monday’s weather — cloudy, chilly with the threat of rain.
The Rays have lost five of six and dropped to four games under .500 for the first time this season.
Jake Odorizzi failed to complete the fifth inning, though Maddon said part of that was due to the approaching storm. With the Rays down 4-3, one out and two runners on base, Maddon turned to Jake McGee, hoping to keep it at one run in case the game was delayed for any length by rain.
The score stayed that way for one inning, but McGee allowed two runs in the sixth.
Still, Odorizzi couldn’t protect a pair of leads.
The Rays started strong and took a 2-0 lead on a double by Ben Zobrist on the first pitch of the night, two errors on a sacrifice bunt by Desmond Jennings and a sac fly by Matt Joyce that scored Jennings from second base after center fielder Adam Eaton fell after making a leaping catch at the wall.
But the White Sox tied it at 2 on a two-run homer by Alejandro De Aza on a hanging change-up from Odorizzi in the second inning.
Wil Myers scored from first base on a double in the fourth inning by David DeJesus.
But the White Sox went ahead in the bottom of the inning on an RBI triple by Alexei Ramirez and a two-out double by Marcus Semien.
“He made some bad pitches at the wrong time, and they didn’t miss them,” Maddon said.
Odorizzi, now 1-3, felt he executed his pitches better, locating his fastball on the inside part of the plate. Still, he failed to go five innings and extended his personal losing streak to three.
“Overall, it’s tough,” he said. “They’re professionals, too. You make a good pitch and they can put it in play just as easily.”
Maddon said he is always disappointed with the losing record but not discouraged. He said he won’t use the injuries to starting pitchers Matt Moore and Alex Cobb as excuses, because he feels the Rays have enough depth to cover those losses.
But, he added after the game, “We need to get more length out of those guys.” He was referring to Odorizzi, Cesar Ramos and tonight’s starter, Erik Bedard.
Since Cobb went on the disabled list April 13, Rays starters have pitched five innings or fewer in 10 of the 14 games.
The Rays flew to Boston after Monday’s loss to return to American League East action. Maddon remained confident in his team that the pitchers will start working deeper into games, the offense will hit better on a consistent basis and the rain cloud that seems to hang over this club at the moment will disappear.
“I’m a big believer in you have to win the battle of inches and sometimes the inches work against you and they will continue to work against you if you give up or you say woe is me or we’re victims and all the crappy stuff,” Maddon said before the game. “But if you just say we’re going to keep working at this, we’re going to keep working at what we do, the pendulum comes back your side. That’s what I see is going to happen here. I’m very confident.”