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Rays eager to wipe slate clean, continue push

MLB.com

DETROIT -- Before Friday's game got out of reach and both teams began swapping in subs for starters, the Rays were in a promising position to avenge a walk-off loss from the night before.

After giving up a leadoff home run to Ian Kinsler, starter Erasmo Ramirez -- who entered the game with a 13.50 ERA in first innings this season -- retired the next nine batters quickly to open the fourth in a tied game having thrown just 34 pitches.

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DETROIT -- Before Friday's game got out of reach and both teams began swapping in subs for starters, the Rays were in a promising position to avenge a walk-off loss from the night before.

After giving up a leadoff home run to Ian Kinsler, starter Erasmo Ramirez -- who entered the game with a 13.50 ERA in first innings this season -- retired the next nine batters quickly to open the fourth in a tied game having thrown just 34 pitches.

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That's all he or anyone else on the Rays will want to remember. The next two innings were a blur: the Tigers batted around both times, piling up nine hits and 10 runs in the Rays' eventual 13-4 loss.

"The only problem is [that] it's been happening lately," said Ramirez, who has a 10.06 ERA his past three starts. "So I just have to stop worrying about it and don't get that into my mind too much. Just go in and work."

Ramirez's attitude is one that everyone in the Rays' clubhouse should subscribe to. At June's midpoint, Tampa Bay is hanging around in the competitive American League East without contributors such as catcher Wilson Ramos and reliever Brad Boxberger, both of whom are due back soon. Though talk of a Wild Card berth is premature, Tampa is currently only a game back of Cleveland for the second spot.

The Rays lost by six or more runs for just the sixth time this season. A rare blowout isn't something to dwell on, at least not from the perspective of Rays manager Kevin Cash.

"We got beat," he said. "But, just bounce back tomorrow. Not a lot to be said about today."

One cause for concern remains fielding errors, which proved costly again Friday. Tampa has allowed six unearned runs the past three games. The Rays have reason for encouragement, too. They're averaging more than 10 hits per game the past nine games, and they rank seventh in the league in OPS (.769) and 10th in ERA (4.12).

After the game, Cash chose not to use the loss as a way of focusing on the players who aren't yet healthy enough to return, such as recent All-Stars Ramos and Boxberger. Instead, he talked about only looking ahead to what's right in front of his team -- Saturday's game.

"I look forward to coming in tomorrow," Cash said. "We've got {Chris Archer] on the mound tomorrow. This is two or three starts now in a row where we need to find a way to win, and we've had him on the mound."

Jordan Horrobin is a reporter for MLB.com based in Detroit.

Tampa Bay Rays