Mired in their worst losing streak of the season, the Tampa Bay Rays could use improvement on offense, but manager Joe Maddon knows that he needs more out of his starters.
Tampa Bay (66-50) capped an 0-5 road trip with Sunday's 8-2 loss to the Dodgers, recording their longest skid since starting 0-6 in 2011.
"We're going to hit those bumps, and I'm honestly not concerned about that," Maddon told the Rays' official website. "We need to get back in the moments where we have runners in scoring position."
His club has hit .235 with just three homers over the last nine games while scoring 24 runs, but a bigger issue during that stretch may be the rotation. Maddon replaced his starter before the fifth inning six times in that span, prior to which Tampa Bay got at least five innings from its starter in 32 consecutive games.
"The biggest difference is, we did not pitch well enough," Maddon said of a road swing in which his staff had a 7.36 ERA.
Jeremy Hellickson 's three-inning stint Sunday marked the fourth time on the trip that a starter failed to get through the fifth.
One of those abbreviated outings was by Archer (6-4, 2.71 ERA) last Wednesday when he left after allowing one run over 1 2-3 innings due to forearm stiffness in a 9-8 defeat to Arizona. He said it doesn't appear serious.
"I am glad they are cautious with me, thinking about the future and hopefully it just dissolves and my next start I am out there at normal game speed," Archer said.
The right-hander is 5-1 with a 1.91 ERA over his last nine outings, with the Rays dropping the last two after winning the first seven. This will be his first start against Seattle.
The Rays and the Mariners (54-63) have yet to meet. Tampa Bay took six of 10 matchups last year and has won 13 of the last 18 at Tropicana Field, where the Rays have not lost a series since mid-June.
Seattle will give Erasmo Ramirez (3-0, 7.13) his first start since Aug. 3 after he was skipped because the club didn't need a fifth starter. He's since made one appearance out of the bullpen, yielding one run over 1 2-3 innings in Friday's 10-5 loss to Milwaukee.
Ramirez has posted a 5.60 ERA in winning his last three starts, getting 15 runs of support. The right-hander's only appearance against the Rays came in relief last year.
The Mariners scored 19 runs and batted .216 on a 2-4 homestand capped by Sunday's 2-0 win over Milwaukee.
Justin Smoak had just five hits in 22 at-bats in the six games, but three were home runs. He hit his 13th Sunday.
"I just saw a pitch up and made good contact and I was able to put a good swing on it," said Smoak, who is 4 for 40 without a homer in his last 11 games versus Tampa Bay.
|July 26, 2013||Mike Zunino||15-Day DL||Fractured left hamate bone|
|July 11, 2013||Nick Franklin||Day-to-Day||Left game - knee soreness|
|July 11, 2013||Endy Chavez||Day-to-Day||Left game - groin tightness|
|June 29, 2013||Dustin Ackley||Day-to-Day||Left game - thumb|
|June 24, 2013||Franklin Gutierrez||Day-to-Day||Hamstring|
|June 24, 2013||Franklin Gutierrez||15-Day DL||Right hamstring strain|
|Tampa Bay Rays|
|August 04, 2013||Desmond Jennings||15-Day DL||Fractured left middle finger|
|August 02, 2013||Brandon Guyer||15-Day DL||Fractured right middle finger|
|July 29, 2013||Matt Moore||15-Day DL||Left elbow soreness|
|June 30, 2013||Jesse Crain||15-Day DL||Sprained right shoulder|
|June 28, 2013||Evan Longoria||Day-to-Day||Plantar fasciitis, left foot|
|June 16, 2013||Alex Cobb||60-Day DL||Concussion|
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) -- Mariners rookie leadoff hitter Brad Miller put on an impressive power display for his hometown fans.
Miller homered twice to help Seattle send the Tampa Bay Rays to their sixth straight loss with a 5-4 victory on Tuesday night.
Around 50 family members and friends were present to see Miller, who is from the Orlando, Fla. area, play for the first time at Tropicana Field.
"It was awesome," Miller said. "Before the game, getting to see, like, every coach I've ever had since I was 5, and my best friend, my parents. And then to go out there and get things going and finish it off with a win, that was perfect. That was a lot of fun."
Miller has four home runs this season, which have come in a pair of two-homer games. He connected for his first two big league homers on July 19 at Houston.
"You could hear them, a lot of Miller fans up there," acting Seattle manager Robby Thompson said.
Tampa Bay also got two homers from its leadoff hitter, Ben Zobrist .
According to the Rays, it is just the third time since 1916, when records are available, that both leadoff hitters had multihomer games. The others were June 5, 1994 (Minnesota's Chuck Knoblauch and Tony Phillips of Detroit) and July 8, 1965 (Houston's Joe Morgan and Felipe Alou of the Milwaukee Braves).
After Justin Smoak ended Chris Archer 's night with a leadoff single in the sixth, Dustin Ackley gave Seattle a 5-4 lead on a triple off Wesley Wright .
"That was a big turning point, especially with our bullpen," Ackley said.
Zobrist got the Rays even at 4 on his second homer of the game, a two-run shot in the fifth against Erasmo Ramirez (4-0), who allowed four runs and seven hits in 5 1-3 innings.
Danny Farquhar pitched the ninth for his fifth save. The Mariners bullpen allowed one hit over 3 2-3 scoreless innings.
Smoak had a two-run single through a defensive shift as the Mariners went ahead 3-2 in the fourth.
"That's what happens when you're losing," Rays manager Joe Maddon said. "You get plays like that going in their favor against us. When you talk about good baseball luck and bad baseball luck, it really exists and right now we're getting some very bad baseball luck."
Miller's second homer of the game, a fifth-inning shot, made it 4-2. According to STATS, Miller is the third player in the divisional era (1969) to record his first four homers on two, two-homer games, joining Toronto's J.P Arencibia (2010-11) and Carlos May (1969) of the Chicago White Sox.
Archer (6-5), who left his previous start last Wednesday at Arizona after 1 2-3 innings due to right forearm tightness, gave up five runs and nine hits over five-plus innings.
"Honestly, I'll take full responsibility for that loss, because if I execute a couple pitches in a couple of key situations, those are the games that we win," Archer said. "We score four runs, we win because we have good pitching."
Miller opened the game with his first leadoff homer and the Mariners' eighth this season, which extended the team record.
Zobrist tied it at 1 in the bottom of the first on his first career leadoff homer and 100th overall in the majors. The Rays took a 2-1 lead later in the inning on James Loney 's RBI single.
It was the first major league game since Aug. 31, 2011, when St. Louis' Rafael Furcal and Milwaukee's Corey Hart did it, where both teams hit leadoff home runs, according to STATS.
It last occurred in the AL on Aug. 17, 2006, in games between Baltimore ( Brian Roberts ) and New York ( Johnny Damon ), and Kansas City ( David DeJesus ) against Chicago ( Pablo Ozuna ).
NOTES: Tampa Bay RHP Alex Cobb is expected to make his first big league start Thursday night since getting hit in the head by a liner on June 15. ... The Mariners plan to look at Ackley in center. "We're trying to see what we have out there with Ackley," Thompson said. ... Rays CF Desmond Jennings (broken left middle finger) could start dry swings with a bat in the next few days. ... Tampa Bay optioned RHP Josh Lueke to Triple-A Durham.