ST. PETERSBURG — Sunday’s 3-2 loss to the Boston Red Sox snapped the Tampa Bay Rays’ nine-game winning streak, the second-longest in team history.
The Rays did, however, win the three-game series, which manager Joe Maddon has said is the ultimate goal of every series the Rays play during the remainder of the season.
“Two out of three ain’t bad,” Maddon said. “We weren’t going to win the rest of the games this year, I promise you. I wish we would, but I just don’t think it was going to happen.”
With six teams standing between the Rays for either the American League East title or the final spot in the AL wild card, Maddon knows the importance of not only every series but also every game.
“On a daily basis it’s like September already. We can’t wait for September. We’re going with a new month. It’s called Octember,” Maddon said. “You have to play the rest of the season as if there’s no mulligans, every game counts.”
The Rays plan to activate RHP Joel Peralta today from the disabled list, which means there will be another roster move. This could be the one LHP Erik Bedard does not survive.
Though rookies RHP Kirby Yates and LHP Jeff Beliveau have options, they have earned the trust of Maddon during high-leverage situations.
Yates entered Sunday’s game in the seventh inning and faced RF Shane Victorino with two on and two outs. The two native Hawaiians battled through a 14-pitch at-bat before Yates finally got Victorino to swing and miss at a curveball.
Beliveau replaced Yates the following inning and retired all six Red Sox he faced, including three on strikeouts. Beliveau has pitched six innings in five games for the Rays this season. He has yet to allow a run.
Bedard remained on the roster after RHP Juan Carlos Oviedo was designated for assignment Saturday because the Rays believe they have bullpen depth at the Triple-A level and because they felt they needed insurance in case LHP David Price was traded or they needed an emergency starter.
That Bedard has pitched twice this month — once as a starter, once in relief — does not help his status. That Maddon said he needs to avoid overworking LHP Jake McGee and RHP Brad Boxberger increases the value of both Yates and Beliveau.
LF Ben Zobrist was on first base with one out and DH Matt Joyce had a 3-0 count against rookie Allen Webster, making his season debut, when Maddon flashed the green light. Joyce pulled the ball and hit into a 3-6-3 double play.
Maddon defended the decision, saying Joyce had a good day at the plate Saturday when he went 2-for-3 with a walk and an RBI.
“I felt really strongly about that moment,” Maddon said.
Maddon added that 3B Evan Longoria, due up next, was having a tough day against Webster.
“I just thought it was a good call right there, and he just hit a ground ball to first base,” Maddon said. “I think that Matt has been swinging the bat really well for us and driving in some runs.”
Former Tampa Bay Buccaneers linebacker Derrick Brooks, who will be inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame next weekend, threw out the ceremonial first pitch before the game. ... The Rays were attempting to become only the sixth team in the last 25 seasons to have a 10-game winning streak and a 10-game losing streak in the same season. ... The Red Sox snapped a six-game losing streak at Tropicana Field. ... CF Desmond Jennings had four RBIs in the three-game series. He had three RBIs in his previous 17 games. ... Zobrist reached base in nine of his 12 plate appearances. ... RHP Chris Archer has pitched at least six innings in 10 of his last 12 starts. He retired 11 of the last 12 batters he faced as the Rays’ staff did not allow a hit in the final five innings. ... The Rays were 1-for-7 with runners in scoring position. They hit .307 with RISP during the winning streak.