A lack of clutch hitting has hurt the Tampa Bay Rays recently as they've struggled to put together a significant run over the last month.
The Rays will try to bounce back after another lackluster effort at the plate Sunday when they close their series against the Seattle Mariners .
Tampa Bay has had trouble this weekend with Seattle, which has the AL's second-worst record at 41-55. The Rays won 4-3 in 14 innings Friday, but lost 2-1 Saturday, ending a nine-game winning streak over the Mariners.
Jeff Keppinger had three of Tampa Bay's six hits, but the Rays (49-46) went 0 for 6 with runners in scoring position after striking out 15 times Friday. Tampa Bay is hitting .180 with runners on second or third in nine games since the All-Star break and ranks second-to-last in the AL at .237."That's been our biggest problem this year, the inability to win some close ones based on being able to score the runs we needed to," manager Joe Maddon said.
While the Rays have been unable to mount a serious challenge to the New York Yankees in the AL East, Tampa Bay is within 1 1/2 games of the two wild-card spots. This despite not having won more than two consecutive games since a four-game winning streak June 7-10.
The Rays will try to pick up their second win this season against Blake Beavan (4-6, 6.06 ERA). He gave up five runs and seven hits, including two homers, in 5 1-3 innings of a 5-4 loss to Tampa Bay on May 2.
Hideki Matsui , hitless in his last 15 at-bats, is 5 for 8 with two doubles against Beavan.
The right-hander is making his second start since being recalled from the minors this month. He surrendered five runs over six innings of a 9-6 win over Kansas City on Tuesday - the fourth straight start in which he's allowed at least five runs.
He takes the mound for the Mariners as they try for their sixth win in nine games.
The lineup will try to provide Beavan with support off Matt Moore (6-6, 4.39), who has struggled with his control his last two starts.
After being hit hard for five runs in 4 2-3 innings against Cleveland on July 7, he overcame a season high-tying five walks and a hit batter in five-plus innings Tuesday to beat the Indians 4-2.
"I wasn't going the distance I needed to go tonight, but pitching out of jams like that does take a lot out (of you)," said Moore, who has won five of his last six decisions.
The left-hander was better against Seattle on May 1. He allowed a solo homer among seven hits in five innings of a 3-1 victory, striking out seven.
|July 18, 2012||Charlie Furbush||15-Day DL||Strained left triceps|
|July 01, 2012||Erasmo Ramirez||15-Day DL||Right elbow flexor strain|
|June 30, 2012||Erasmo Ramirez||Day-to-Day||Left game - leg injury|
|June 29, 2012||Franklin Gutierrez||Day-to-Day||Left Game-Head Injury|
|June 29, 2012||Franklin Gutierrez||15-Day DL||Concussion|
|June 27, 2012||Kevin Millwood||Day-to-Day||Left game - strained right groin|
|Tampa Bay Rays|
|July 21, 2012||Luke Scott||15-Day DL||Right oblique strain|
|July 21, 2012||Alex Cobb||Day-to-Day||Left game - right knee contusion|
|July 02, 2012||Hideki Matsui||Day-to-Day||Left game - left hamstring tightness|
|June 30, 2012||Jeremy Hellickson||Day-to-Day||Left game - bruised right shin|
|June 29, 2012||David Price||Day-to-Day||Left game - lower back tightness|
|June 20, 2012||Matt Joyce||15-Day DL||Strained left oblique|
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) -- Blake Beavan put the final touches on Seattle's strong road trip.
Beavan scattered four hits over eight innings and the Mariners beat the Tampa Bay Rays 2-1 on Sunday to finish a 5-2 trip.
"A great performance," Seattle manager Eric Wedge said. "I'll tell you what, he did a great job with his fastball. He moved it around. But his secondary stuff was big for him. Really controlled the ballgame."
Jesus Montero and Brendan Ryan each had an RBI double for the Mariners, who took two of three from the Rays.
"A real good road trip," Wedge said. "It's tough to win on the road. It's tough to win in general. The two losses we did have were walk-offs, so they were tight ballgames throughout."
Beavan (5-6) struck out five and walked none, outpitching Matt Moore in a tight duel. Tom Wilhelmsen worked a scoreless ninth for his 10th save, completing the five-hitter.
"That's what happens when you mix pitches up," Beavan said. "You get them off balance. For me, that was my goal, just going in there and mixing them up."
Matt Joyce hit a two-out double off Wilhelmsen, who then walked Jeff Keppinger . Pinch-hitter Hideki Matsui , mired in an 0-for-16 skid, ended the game on a first-pitch popup to shortstop.
Seattle stopped a nine-game losing streak to the Rays with Saturday night's 2-1 win.
"We've been on the losing side of things the past year or so," Wilhelmsen said. "Guys stepped up big-time."
Moore (6-7) gave up two runs, five hits and struck out seven in eight innings for the Rays, who went 4-6 on their longest homestand of the season. The left-hander retired his final 17 batters.
"It's a difficult moment because we really did not take advantage of some pretty good opportunities over the last couple days," Rays manager Joe Maddon said. "When you get that kind of pitching, you don't want to lose. So we have to figure out a way to get beyond that."
Seattle took a 2-1 lead on Ryan's second-inning double. Michael Saunders scored after reaching on a bunt single and stealing second.
Desmond Jennings reached leading off the eighth when Ryan misplayed his grounder at shortstop and went to second on Jose Molina 's grounder. After advancing to third on a grounder by Elliot Johnson , Jennings was left stranded when Beavan got a pop fly from B.J. Upton.
Casper Wells started the first with a double, but was thrown out at third on Ichiro Suzuki 's bunt. Suzuki then stole second and third before scoring on Montero's double to put the Mariners ahead 1-0.
Tampa Bay tied it in the bottom half when Ben Zobrist hit a two-out double that deflected off first base and Joyce followed with an RBI single.
Suzuki took away an extra-base hit from Carlos Pena with a leaping catch at the right-field wall for the second out in the first.
NOTES: Rays 3B Evan Longoria , out since May 1 with a partially torn left hamstring, is increasing his on-field work. He took batting practice, fielded grounders and ran in the outfield. ... Seattle 1B-OF Mike Carp (right shoulder) is nearing the end of his minor league rehab assignment and will have his status evaluated. ... Tampa Bay recalled RHP Brandon Gomes from Triple-A Durham and then optioned him back to the International League club after the game. ... Rays LHP Cesar Ramos was optioned to Durham after throwing four scoreless innings in Saturday night's 2-1 loss to Seattle. ... Tampa Bay OF Sam Fuld , out all season after right wrist surgery, could join the team on Tuesday.