Rays Offensive Struggles Continue, Lose Opener To Astros

Yarbrough Struggles, Bats Remain Silent

St. Petersburg, FL – The Tampa Bay Rays fell to the Houston Astros in the opening game of their three game series by a final score of 9-2.

Ryan Yarbrough (1-3, 4.86 ERA) took the loss for the Rays who fall to 13-14. Lance McCullers Jr. (2-1, ERA) picked up the win for Houston who improve to 14-12.

With the loss the Rays have now dropped four of the last six games and are 3-6 in their last nine. Tonight’s loss matches the number of losses they had at Tropicana Field in 2020 (20-9).

Yarbrough allowed five earned runs on 10 hits spanning six innings of work. He struck out five walked one and allowed a home run. He made 103 pitches with 71 for strikes.

Jesuit-HS product Lance McCullers Jr. worked seven scoreless innings allowing just three hits while walking three and striking out nine. He threw 111 pitches with 72 for strikes.

It’s the same old story for the Rays offense as they have scored just 19 runs on 51 hits and 23 walks while striking out 84 times during the first eight games of the homestand. They have just three hits in their last 50 at-bats with runners in scoring position.

While the Rays are in the midst of 17 straight games, Manager Kevin Cash says that the toughest part has been the offensive struggles. “Sometimes you just go through this as a team. It’s not just one guy or two guys, this is a team going through this.” Cash said. “You can look at our numbers and they kind of prove that. There are too many guys that are just not having the results that they are capable of having right now so that makes it challenging.”

Some of the numbers are just plain ugly and to Cash’s point, here are the homestand batting lines for tonight’s lineup: Austin Meadows (3-for-23), Manuel Margot (6-for-24), Brandon Lowe (4-for-22), Yandy Diaz (5-for-25), Joey Wendle (3-for-20), Mike Zunino (4-for-13), Kevin Kiermaier (5-for-28), Yoshi Tsutsugo (2-for-11), and Willy Adames (1-for-20).

The Rays scored a pair of runs in the ninth inning when Willy Adames broke his 0-for25 streak with a 2-out bases loaded single off Astro reliever Andre Scrubb. After the ball fell safely to the turf Adames raised his hands in the air in relief. After the game he admitted that he has missed touching first base. He remains confident that not only his offense will return but the team will be too. “We’re going to be fine, I believe in our team and we’re going to be fine.”

The only other positive for the offense was Brandon Lowe had a pair of hits in four plate appearances including a double.

Trevor Richards followed Yarbrough to the hill and worked two innings allowing one run and Louis Head worked the ninth allowing three runs.

Hill On Covid-IL Due To Vaccine Reaction

Rich Hill was placed on the Covid-19 Injury List as he is sidelined due to a reaction to the Covid vaccine. “This is what we’re finding out about the different vaccines. It seems they all have a little different….how people are reacting to them.” Cash said. “If it’s anything like Yoshi [Tsutsugo] – Yoshi seems to be feeling good today obviously he’s back and back in the lineup today. That’s a good sign, hopefully that’s how Rich will bounce back as well.  Hill is scheduled to pitch Sunday and that remains the plan. “That’s the hope, but we’ll have to kind of hold off. If he’s good, he’ll start.”

Choi and Reed Getting Closer To Return

Ji-Man Choi is getting closer to making his season debut but will need ramp up at-bats after only playing in five spring training games before undergoing arthroscopic surgery on his right knee. The plan is for him to be part of the simulated game tomorrow with Peter Fairbanks and potentially the simulated game with Colin McHugh on Sunday. He’ll then fly out Sunday afternoon or Monday morning to join the Durham Bulls Triple-A squad to continue his rehab.

Reliever Cody Reed had a botox injection in his thumb and is close to returning to the bullpen. Kevin Cash and company will talk to Reed after Friday’s batting practice and make a determination as to whether he’s in line for activation of if additional time is need.

Up Next For Rays:

Tampa Bay and Houston will play the middle game of their three game weekend series Saturday afternoon at 4:10. The Rays will either employ an opener or start Josh Fleming (1-2, 1.23 ERA). Jose Urquidy (1-2, 4.67 ERA) is slated to take the mound for Houston.

I am a fan of all sports but am most passionate about baseball. From the fanatical to analytical, nothing about the game escapes me. Being born and raised in Northeast Ohio I'm very familiar with the heartache and pain that sports can bring and hope that I bring some understanding of the other side to my coverage. I will focus mostly on baseball but also cover the Tampa Bay Lightning, one of the most electric franchises in all of sports. Always willing to converse about any sport and have only one rule and that is be respectful at all times.