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Cash: Rays' recent struggles another 'drastic'

@juanctoribio
June 15, 2019

ST. PETERSBURG -- For the second consecutive game, the Rays rallied in the sixth inning but unlike Friday’s game, Tampa Bay’s rally fell short, 5-3, to the Angels on Saturday at Tropicana Field. “That’s three days in a row where we’ve fallen behind 3-0 or 4-0,” said Rays manager Kevin

ST. PETERSBURG -- For the second consecutive game, the Rays rallied in the sixth inning but unlike Friday’s game, Tampa Bay’s rally fell short, 5-3, to the Angels on Saturday at Tropicana Field.

“That’s three days in a row where we’ve fallen behind 3-0 or 4-0,” said Rays manager Kevin Cash. “We did a good job of coming back. We got close, but we didn’t do it like we did last night quite enough.”

After being held scoreless for five innings by Angels starter Jose Suarez, the Rays offense finally got something going against the left-hander in the sixth inning. Avisail Garcia and Tommy Pham opened the frame with back-to-back singles which set the stage for Yandy Diaz to connect on a three-run shot, his 11th of the season, to cut the deficit to 4-3.

The Rays, however, were unable to find a way to get the tying run across to tie the game as the Angels bullpen was able to shut the door, unlike Friday night. Tampa Bay’s best chance came in the seventh inning with Travis d’Arnaud standing at second base, but Angels reliever Cam Bedrosian got Garcia to ground out to third to end the threat.

Box score

Tampa Bay is now 9-18 when the opposing team scores first, as opposed to a 33-10 record when the Rays strike first. In the current homestand, the Rays have scored first just twice.

“I think you’re seeing two drastics right now,” Cash said. “Probably what we saw and what we benefited from at the beginning of the season was drastic and you’re just not going to score that many runs in the first and second, normally. And right now what’s taken place is a drastic on the other side. We need to even it out a little bit, but we will certainly take it if we want to get aggressive early on.”

Charlie Morton, who came into Saturday’s start with an 8-0 record, lost his first decision of the season and his first since August 11, 2018 against Seattle when he was a member of the Astros. Morton was hurt by a three-run second inning, which was capped off by a two-run home run by David Fletcher.

The home run to Fletcher was the first home run allowed by Morton to a right-handed hitter this season. The 92.5 mph exit velocity was also the lowest allowed by the Rays right-hander since Statcast began tracking in 2015.

“I didn’t think my best stuff, my best pitches came until the last few innings,” Morton said. “Those kinds of games -- you make a couple of mistakes and you pay for them. They put some really good swings on those pitches.”

Morton allowed four runs on five hits and struck out nine over six innings. His season ERA climbed from 2.10 to 2.37.

The 5-3 loss on Saturday secures a losing homestand for the Rays, who have now dropped to 19-18 this season at Tropicana Field after posting a 51-23 record at home in 2018. While Cash said the team has to do a “much better job” at home, the team isn’t ready to panic due to its performances on their home field.

“Last year we had a great stretch here at home and this year we still have time to turn that around,” said Rays center fielder Kevin Kiermaier. “It’s just one of those crazy stats in the baseball world that you don’t really know how to answer.

“We know we have to play better all-around at home or on the road. That’s a tough thing to answer because I don’t think anyone has an answer. It is what it is.”

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