Beeks struggles as Rays split series with O's

Rough day keeps Tampa Bay from gaining ground in AL Wild Card race

August 25th, 2019

BALTIMORE -- Deep in the heart of August baseball, the Rays will be carried only as far as their depth will take them. With injuries more prevalent than ever, especially in the starting rotation, that need has never been more apparent.

Until Blake Snell, Tyler Glasnow and Yonny Chirinos return at different points in September -- and most likely with limited roles, at that -- the onus will be on hurlers like Ryan Yarbrough, Trevor Richards and to not only pick up the slack but try to be dependable guys who can send Tampa Bay to its first postseason appearance since 2013.

In his latest audition, Beeks did little in the way of inspiring confidence. As the bulk pitcher behind Diego Castillo, the lefty was tagged for seven runs and 11 hits in what became an 8-3 loss to the Orioles on Sunday at Camden Yards. Those seven runs were one short of his career high, which he has done twice, including once in Baltimore last season.

“He looks like a guy right now on the mound a little bit where -- I don't know if 'lost' is the right word -- but not feeling it,” Rays manager Kevin Cash said. “Searching. Searching is probably the best word. And it’s tough to compete at this level when you’re searching, and I think that’s what he’s doing.”

“I don’t feel like I was searching,” Beeks responded. “Just trying to attack guys and throw in the zone. I’m definitely interested in whatever coach has got to say. I'm obviously all ears trying to learn every day. But I felt aggressive, and that’s how it goes. It’s baseball.”

The loss did little to help a Tampa Bay team hoping to get back in the win column heading into series against the Astros and the Indians -- one team, along with the A’s, that they are trying to build some breathing room between in the cutthroat American League Wild Card race.

Regardless of how it came about, Sunday continued what has been a rough go for Beeks since he was called up in mid-July from a brief stint with Triple-A Durham. He owns a 7.07 ERA in his 11 outings since, made all the more puzzling by the 2.55 ERA he owned before the demotion. Beeks downplayed the notion that that had any impact on the turn in his season.

“I know who I am. I've battled through it,” Beeks said. “I haven’t given anything less than 100 percent every day, so it’s frustrating to get the results that I've been getting. But I believe in myself, I believe I'm here for a purpose and a reason and I’m going to continue to pitch. … Just some unlucky times right now. Just going to continue to battle through it.”

At this point, Beeks slots into a set of starting/bulk pitchers who are leaving him in the dust. Yarbrough has shown not only competence but brilliance. Newbie Richards showed encouraging signs in his last outing on Friday. And Charlie Morton has been Charlie Morton.

And while the offense put up 10 hits despite the loss of Kevin Kiermaier, who is day to day after he exited in the sixth inning with a left rib cage contusion, many baserunners were erased by four double plays, giving Beeks a slim margin for error in an outing in which he made plenty.

“We had two or three innings where we were one big hit away from some big things happening,” Cash said. “There were some things where a couple of inches go our way, and we’re talking about cutting it to one or getting it to a really close ballgame.”

All that’s left for the Rays now is to put a roller-coaster weekend in Baltimore on the back burner. A day off may not help in the way of positive distractions, but going up against the American League paragon Astros with Morton making his homecoming might be the refocusing spark needed.

“I wouldn’t say our backs are against the wall, but we know we need to play better,” Kiermaier said. “I would have loved to sweep the series here in Baltimore to get us really feeling good about ourselves, but that wasn’t the case. And now we are going to have to win a series in Houston against a great ballclub there. We are fully capable of it, and it would be a great time for us to beat a really good playoff team late in the season.

“Now we have to go out there and do that.”