Rays Bats Go Cold In Loss To Red Sox

Boston’s Alex Verdugo celebrates with Michael Chavis after the former hit a two-run home run Wednesday, August 5 against the Rays. (Photo: AP/Steve Nesius)

ST. PETERSBURG — Ryan Yarbrough has not won at Tropicana Field since May 28 of last season.

Given the Rays hit the road for a 10-game trip following this weekend’s series against the Yankees, it will be at least another couple of weeks before the 28-year-old lefty gets in the win column again at Tropicana Field.

On Wednesday night, Yarbrough allowed a pair of two-run homers and exited after allowing three runs in the sixth without recording an out in a 5-0 loss to the Red Sox.

The Rays (5-7) settled for a split in the two-game series after snapping a five-game skid Tuesday night.

It is not like Yarbrough, who allowed two runs through the first five innings, has had a ton of support. The Rays have scored one run — one! — while he has been on the mound in his three starts. The result is a pair of losses and a no-decision.

Not that the bats have been hot otherwise.  

Austin Meadows’ return to the team sparked a 5-1 win in Tuesday night’s series opener, but the Rays entered Wednesday night hitting .217 and only once in their 12 games have they had as many as 10 hits. That was July 27 against visiting Atlanta when they collected 13 hits in a 14-5 win.

“We wish we knew the answer,” said manager Kevin Cash, whose team was 0-for-7 with runners in scoring position. “We need to turn it around here sooner than later. We put (Boston starter Martin Perez) in the hole a couple of times, but the big hit eluded us. We need to figure it out here real quick.”  

The Rays certainly had chances to get on the board. In each of the first four innings and five of the first six they got the leadoff man on. In the fourth they had men on first and second with nobody out. The runners did not advance, let alone score.

“I don’t think we are frustrated,” said Jose Martinez, who started at first base and led off the fourth inning with a double and the sixth by drawing a walk. “I think sometimes we try too hard. We need to come back Friday (against the Yankees) and try to do better, for sure. We are trying to do too much sometimes and we just need to put it together.”

The game was scoreless until the fourth inning when Xander Bogaerts led off with a double and Alex Verdugo launched Yarbrough’s 0-1 breaking pitch into the first row beyond the right field wall. It was Verdugo’s first extra-base hit as a member of the Red Sox.

The 2-0 deficit marked the tenth time this season the Rays’ opponent scored first. 

Boston stretched its lead to 5-0 in the sixth courtesy a run-scoring single by Christian Vazquez and a two-run home run off the bat of Michael Chavis.

“Both (home run) pitches got too much of the plate and you can’t really do that in these kinds of games, or in general,” said Yarbrough. “They are an aggressive team and they had some really good at-bats. I didn’t really have one clean inning where I was able to put it all together.”

Perez went five innings to get the win for Boston. Four relievers each pitched an inning to complete the shutout.

Following a day off Thursday, the Rays host the Yankees in a four-game weekend series that includes a Saturday doubleheader when both games will be seven innings. 

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Kevin Cash said after the game the Rays trimmed their roster to 28 by sending 1B/OF Brian O’Grady and reliever Ryan Thompson to the team’s alternate training site in Port Charlotte.

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Tom Layberger has been a sports writer and editor since 1990. Among the companies he has worked for are Beckett Publishing, The Topps Company and Comcast. In addition to being a contributing writer for sportstalkflorida.com, Tom also writes for forbes.com and Tampa Bay Business & Wealth Magazine. A native of the Philadelphia suburbs and a University of South Florida grad, Tom is a member of the Football Writers Association of America and the National Football Foundation. He resides in Tampa.