Tampa Bay manager Lou Piniella felt this coming. After a surprising surge before the All-Star Break, the Tampa Bay Devil Rays are slumping again.
The Devil Rays hope to avoid their eighth straight road defeat and fifth loss in a row overall when they continue a three-game series with the Toronto Blue Jays at SkyDome.
Tampa Bay extended its skid with a 7-4 loss to Toronto on Friday. It was the Devil Rays’ 13th loss in 18 games since moving a season-high two games above .500 on July 3. The team has scored four runs or fewer in 14 of those games.
On Friday, the Devil Rays left seven runners on base, including four in scoring position.
“We need to score more runs. I said that about three weeks before we even cooled off,” Piniella said. “I was telling you people. Everybody was looking at me like I was Bozo the Clown.”
Piniella fiddled with the lineup prior to the opener, hoping to give the offense a spark. He placed Joey Gathright in the leadoff spot and moved Carl Crawford down to second in the hopes that Crawford’s ability to pull the ball and Gathright’s speed could generate some offense.
Crawford went 0-for-5 with four strikeouts to end his 13-game hitting streak while Gathright went 1-for-4 and scored a run. Aubrey Huff homered for the Devil Rays as did Rocco Baldelli, who hit his first career grand slam the day before.
“It’s time to get up again,” said Toby Hall. “That’s why we have tomorrow.”
Frank Menechino had three hits—including a solo homer—for Toronto, which ended a three-game losing streak. The Blue Jays, who averaged 2.3 runs in their previous 10 games, had a season-high six in the third inning—all unearned.
“We haven’t been scoring many runs for most of our pitchers,” said Toronto’s Reed Johnson, who also had three hits. “Dropping a six-spot in one inning is huge for our confidence.”