It’s hard to win games when your offense is struggling and it’s impossible when it’s not scoring any runs at all. That’s precisely the type of support Rays bats provided their pitching staff in the first two games of three at Tropicana Field.
Jacob Faria’s solid nine-strikeout, six-inning start Friday night was squandered in a 2-0 loss. Saturday night it was Alex Cobb’s turn to do enough to win only to watch his record take a hit as Tampa Bay fell 3-0.
The Rays have now been shutout seven times this season and enter Sunday afternoon’s series finale on a dreadfully weak 20-inning scoreless skid. Friday’s blanking marked a milestone, as well. It was the 200th time the Rays have been kept off the scoreboard since joining Major League Baseball in 1998.
While on the topic, here are a few other shutout-related, not-so-fun facts.
As for the last time Tampa Bay’s been shutout by the same team on consecutive days, that would in June 2014. The Seattle Mariners blanked the Rays 5-0 and 3-0 on June 8 and 9. To make matters worse, Tampa Bay went out and threw up another zero June 10 while losing 1-0 to the St. Louis Cardinals.
The most shutouts the Rays have suffered in a single season is 18, which came during that 85-loss campaign in 2014. The fewest? Five times in 2005.
That’s all old news, though. The Rays are in a playoff race and need to figure out what’s going on with their scuffling lineup.
In 22 games since the All-Star break, Tampa Bay’s offensive numbers are pretty much down across the board in comparison to 90 games beforehand. Scoring is down to 3.5 runs per game from 4.8, home runs are down from 1.48 per game to 1.18, and the Rays have the worst post-All-Star break batting average in the American League (.227).
Manager Kevin Cash addressed the slumping offense after Saturday night’s game and said he’s confident it will return to early season form.
“I actually think we are going to be just fine,” Cash said. “It’s unfortunate when it happens back-to-back nights because it’s going to be talked about and addressed. I attribute more to the two pitchers that we faced. Those guys have been tough on us for multiple reasons. The guy we had last night [Brandon Woodruff], we had multiple opportunities and didn’t capitalize. And tonight, we didn’t have any opportunities. That guy [Zach Davies] kept us off base, period.”