ST. PETERSBURG -- Lethargic bats, erratic pitching and mental miscues doomed the Tampa Bay Rays to a 5-0 loss to the Texas Rangers at Tropicana Field on Friday night.
Some sluggishness was to be expected. It was the first game back for the Rays after capping a 10-game road trip with a victorious 5-hour, 42-minute game that lasted 18 innings the night before, and a 1,300-mile flight home from Minnesota. The Rays, however, seemed to be stuck in slow motion on Friday.
Tampa Bay’s offense managed just three hits in eight innings against Rangers starter Lance Lynn, who finished his day with 10 strikeouts and just one walk.
“You can’t expect everyone to show up fresh and clean,” second baseman Brandon Lowe said. “We played a five-hour game yesterday. We had a long flight that got in at 3 a.m. We didn’t do it tonight, but that doesn’t take away from tomorrow.”
Even the Rays’ rallies looked lifeless. Guillermo Heredia managed to reach in the bottom of the sixth after striking out on a wild pitch, and Lowe followed with a walk to put a man in scoring position for the first time all evening. But Lynn settled down to get Tommy Pham to pop out to right and Ji-Man Choi to line out weakly to short, ending the threat.
“The effort is there,” Rays manager Kevin Cash said. “They’re getting their work in and doing everything, but we are a team right now that recognizes that things are not coming easy for us.”
Rays starter Yonny Chirinos had to battle through inconsistent control and an ineffective sinker after the Rays’ bullpen was forced to throw 16 innings the day before. After cruising through the order with an eight-pitch top of the first, Chirinos fell apart in the second. Walks to Nomar Mazara and Asdrubal Cabrera set the table for consecutive doubles by Rougned Odor and Ronald Guzman to put the Rays in a quick 3-0 hole.
“I felt good,” Chirinos said through a translator. “A little tired, obviously, from the travel, but things don’t always go how you want them to go, but that’s part of the game.”
Chirinos had more trouble controlling his throws in the third. He issued a pair of walks to Elvis Andrus and Mazara to put him in another jam. Following an infield single by Joey Gallo, Chirinos tried to make a snap throw to pick off Mazara, who had strayed off the bag at second. The ball sailed out to center field, allowing Mazara to come around to score on the throwing error.
Chirinos gutted it out, finishing his night allowing four runs (three earned) on five hits. He struck out five and walked a career-high four in the loss.
“Give Yonny some credit for getting that deep in the ballgame, knowing our bullpen and what took place the day before,” Cash said. “I really appreciate his effort, but he just couldn’t get the mechanics in line the first three innings.”