Rays Skid Reaches Three StraightFollow @Steve_Kinsella1
St. Petersburg, FL – The Tampa Bay Rays dropped their third straight game losing to the Houston Astros by a final score of 3-1.
Josh Fleming (1-3, 2.18 ERA) takes the loss for the Rays who drop to 13-15 on the season. Jose Urquidy (2-2, 3.71 ERA) picks up the win for Houston while Ryan Pressly worked the ninth inning to pick up his fourth save. Houston improves to 15-12 on the year.
Tampa Bay’s offensive struggles continue as they have scored two runs or fewer in four consecutive games. For the second consecutive game their only runs came in the ninth inning. They have scored four runs or fewer in 19 of 28 games this season. They finished the game 0-for-4 with runners in scoring position and only have five hits in their last 60 at-bats with runners in scoring position.
“These are our guys. We’re going to stick with our guys. We’re confident we’re going to break out of this.” Manager Kevin Cash said. “I wish I could pick the game or the inning or whatever, it’s tough to do. Confident that we’ve got the hitters and the offensive capabilities to snap out of it and get rolling in the right direction.”
As to whether or not the team is pressing, Cash said that they were. “They want to get us out of it. One big swing with guys on base in a tight ballgame makes everybody feel good. There’s nothing wrong with pressing or admitting it. Might as well embrace it because we got to get out of it together.”
Josh Fleming struggled in the first inning throwing 34 pitches allowing three runs on three hits and walking a pair of Astros.
After a rough first inning he settled down to finish the next five innings without allowing a run or hit but did issue three walks (one intentional). Overall, he worked six innings allowing three earned runs on three hits while striking out four and walking five.
“The first was a little uncharacteristic for him he kind of fell behind he didn’t see the conviction the intent with the strike throwing that we’ve seen so much out of him. They added the three runs right there.” Cash said. “Give him a lot of credit for driving that pitch count up but also resetting it and getting through six innings. Pretty remarkable effort. Again, it’s a very good offense and they are going to take advantage of every little thing they you give them and they did in the first inning.”
It was the second time in his career he logged six innings (September 27, 2020 vs Philadelphia). He threw a career high 98 pitches with 59 for strikes.
Fleming, realizing the strain on the pitching staff of playing 30 games in 31 days was happy to give the team six innings. “If I can save the bullpen you know just another inning or two whatever it may be I’m glad to do that.” He said. “A stretch of 30 games in 31 days, we want to keep them fresh for when we need them. Don’t want to get to them early. I was pretty happy with how I was able to get my command back and get through five more.”
Hunter Strickland followed Fleming to the mound and retired six of the seven batters he faced Cody Reed returned from the injured list (soreness in thumb) took over in the ninth inning. He retired the side in order in his first appearance since April 15th. “He looked good. Looked healthy which was encouraging.” Cash said. “I think with more reps we’ll see that continue to effort the strike throwing, but encouraged that he’s back for us, threw the ball well.”
Jose Urquidy silenced the Rays hitters working seven scoreless innings on four hits while striking out five and walking one. He threw 91 pitches with 68 for strikes. Brooks Raley held the Rays scoreless in the eighth and Ryan Pressly allowed one run in the ninth.
Hill and Reed Return From The IL:
Prior to Saturday afternoon’s game the Rays returned Rich Hill from the Covid-19 IL and sent Louis Head to Triple-A Durham. Hill was on the Covid-19 IL due to side affects with the vaccine. He is expected to make his scheduled start on Sunday afternoon.
Cody Reed (left-thumb soreness) was activated from the 10-day IL and to make room on the roster the Rays sent Trevor Richards to Triple-A Durham. Reed’s thumb soreness is alleviated by a botox injection. While Reed’s role is uncertain in the Rays bullpen there are certain things Kevin Cash hopes Reed can accomplish saying, “If he [Reed] can do what he did in spring training and feel good, the velo was up, the strike throwing was considerably up, that’s the guy that we want to see.”
Up Next For Rays:
The Rays and Astros conclude their three game series Sunday afternoon at 1:10. RIch Hill (1-1, 7.25 ERA) takes the mound for Tampa Bay. The Astros will counter with Christian Javier (3-0, 0.87 ERA).