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Rays' quiet bats waste Yonny's quality start

@juanctoribio
June 17, 2019

NEW YORK -- Despite winning Sunday’s game against the Angels, the Rays said they needed to play much better in order to have a successful road trip to New York, Oakland and Minnesota. Tampa Bay has struggled in every aspect of the game over its last eight contests, posting a

NEW YORK -- Despite winning Sunday’s game against the Angels, the Rays said they needed to play much better in order to have a successful road trip to New York, Oakland and Minnesota.

Tampa Bay has struggled in every aspect of the game over its last eight contests, posting a 3-5 record.

Box score

On Monday, the Rays got good pitching from Yonny Chirinos, who completed his sixth quality start of the season after allowing just three runs over six innings. For the most part, they got good defense. But the offense could not get going against Masahiro Tanaka, and Tampa Bay dropped the series opener with New York, 3-0, at Yankee Stadium.

In three starts against the Rays this season, Tanaka has allowed just one run over 22 innings and has struck out 23. Monday’s gem tops the list.

“For what it’s worth, it seems like he’s tough against us every time, here or in our ballpark,” said manager Kevin Cash. “He’s got our number right now. We’ve got to do a better job of making some adjustments. … Because what he’s doing, and whatever we’re doing, it’s not working.”

Singles by Austin Meadows and Willy Adames were the only offense against Tanaka, as Tampa Bay recorded just two hits, extending the offensive woes. Aside from a nine-run explosion in a 9-4 win on Friday against the Angels, the Rays have struggled to get going over the last week. This is the fifth time in the last seven games they were held to three runs or fewer; all five games were losses.

Meadows drops to 4th among AL outfielders

“That’s part of the game,” said catcher Mike Zunino. “We’re going to go through these stretches. You just try to have quality at-bats and just try to turn those over. We’re a team that once momentum shifts, we’re going to get going. But it’s a long road trip. It’s just one game. We’re going to get them tomorrow.”

Before this three-game series, outfielder Kevin Kiermaier said the players won’t put any added pressure on themselves, but that they want to show the Yankees, and themselves, that they can play well against the best teams in the league.

The Rays and Yanks are going to see a lot of each other over the next month -- they play 11 times in the next 28 games -- which should give Tampa Bay a pretty good indication of just how far it is, or isn’t, from holding its own against New York.

Although Monday's loss isn’t the ideal way for the Rays to start the road trip, and it dropped them 1 1/2 games behind the Yankees in the American League East, they aren’t too concerned about the quiet bats and haven’t seen their confidence waver.

“It’s just one of those games,” Meadows said. “Obviously, Tanaka was on tonight, but we’re going to come back and we’re going to keep the confidence and we’re going to roll in tomorrow. We have two more games here, and we’re going to continue to have confidence and not let tonight affect us.”

But make no mistake about it: Although the Rays got better pitching and defense on Monday night, they aren't claiming any moral victories.

“No,” Cash quickly said when asked if the good pitching and defense were a step in the right direction. “We lost.”

Juan Toribio covers the Rays for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @juanctoribio.