Rays bitten once again by injury bug in loss to Jays

Arozarena (quad), Adam (oblique) exit opener; Lowe (patella fracture) out for season

September 23rd, 2023

ST. PETERSBURG -- The somber mood in the Rays’ clubhouse at Tropicana Field on Friday night had little to do with their 6-2 loss to the Blue Jays.

Yes, the defeat dropped the Orioles’ magic number to clinch the American League East to six. And it happened in frustrating fashion, as ace 's wild spell of three straight walks derailed what had been a strong start and helped turn Tampa Bay’s one-run lead into a 4-1 deficit in the sixth inning.

But the bigger issue was the Rays’ expanding injury report, which added three more key names -- , and -- throughout the course of the day.

“It’s the worst possible scenario,” Glasnow said. “It’s never good. You've got to deal with what you have, but it sucks, for sure. Those guys are huge for our team, and to see that happen, it's not ideal. 

“But I guess we'll wait and just kind of see where we go from there.”

  • Games remaining (7): vs. TOR (2), at BOS (2), at TOR (3)
  • Standings update: The Orioles (95-59) hold a 1 1/2-game lead over the Rays (94-61) for first place in the AL East. Baltimore also controls the head-to-head tiebreaker against Tampa Bay. The Rays still hold a comfortable advantage in the AL Wild Card race over the Blue Jays (86-68), Astros (85-69) and Mariners (84-69).
  • Postseason status: Clinched a playoff berth

Lowe, who exited Thursday’s win against the Angels after fouling a pitch off his right kneecap, was diagnosed with a right patella fracture that will sideline him for four to six weeks, effectively ending the slugging second baseman’s season.

Fresh off the 15-day IL after missing three weeks due to a left oblique strain, Adam returned to the mound in the ninth inning against Toronto, and he exited three batters later due to a similar injury, lower in his oblique but “a stronger sensation than last time.”

Adam said he was fine at first, felt something on his second-to-last pitch then was “grabbed pretty good” on his last pitch, a 92.5 mph fastball.

The setup man held out hope as he awaited imaging to determine the severity of his injury, but Adam also held back tears as he spoke in front of his locker after the game.

“It sucks, but it's a resilient group of guys. A bunch of gamers in here, so I'm really not worried about the team,” Adam said. “Selfishly, I'm pretty sad, because I know these guys are about to do something special and I won't be a part of it.”

And Arozarena had to leave after four innings due to tightness in his right quad, which he felt as he doubled and scored in the first inning. The All-Star outfielder said through interpreter Manny Navarro that he “hopes to come back quick,” but being day to day is tough when there are only nine days left in the regular season.

“Nobody likes to get hurt. We're in a deep race with the Orioles. They're a good team. We're playing a really good team,” Arozarena said through Navarro. “I'm hoping to come back soon. The season isn't over until 162 games are played.”

But you can add those players to an injured list that already includes Luke Raley (cervical strain), Jose Siri (fractured right hand), and reliever Garrett Cleavinger (right knee sprain), along with starters Shane McClanahan, Jeffrey Springs, Drew Rasmussen and Shane Baz (elbow surgeries). Plus, star shortstop Wander Franco remains on indefinite administrative leave.

“It's frustrating, obviously,” Arozarena said through Navarro. “We have a 162-game season. We've got to go. We've got to keep fighting until the end, just everyone doing their own part up until then.”

The Rays have already clinched a spot in the postseason, and they’re close to locking up home-field advantage in their first series. If the season ended today, they would host the Blue Jays in a best-of-three AL Wild Card Series to begin the postseason.

But this recent rash of injuries -- they lost Raley to the IL on Friday and Siri on Sept. 12 -- has left them with a banged-up roster that’s increasingly reliant upon young, unproven players.

After Friday’s loss, manager Kevin Cash offered a more positive outlook: The Rays have overcome plenty of injuries and absences just to get here, and maybe they can get some sort of spark from young hitters like top prospect Junior Caminero, who was recalled on Friday, and No. 3 prospect Curtis Mead, who hit his first homer in the seventh inning.

“We've got a bunch of young players in here. They can jolt us with some energy, and we can finish up good,” Cash said. “There's a lot to be excited about with this club, that we've done just a tremendous job of being resilient.

“We'll be as tested as ever now, with some of the guys that we're losing.”