Slide continues as Royals send Rays to season-high 5th straight loss

ST. PETERSBURG — Quite simply, the Rays are just not getting it done.

Their offense has been anemic at best. Their pitching has struggled, and their defense has let them down. Friday, that all came together in a mess of an 8-1 loss to the Royals in front of an announced 16,368 at Tropicana Field.

“I’m concerned,” Rays manager Kevin Cash said after his team’s fifth straight defeat. “But I’ve been concerned for quite some time.”

The losing streak is the longest for the Rays (25-27) since July 2023, and there is plenty for Cash to be concerned about. Tampa Bay lost each of the five games by three or more runs, the pitching staff has a 5.93 ERA during that span, and the lineup has produced an average of just two runs over those games.

Generating offfense has been a constant grind for the Rays this season. They entered Friday tied for 25th in the majors in home runs with 42. They ranked 25th with a .359 slugging percentage. Their .669 OPS was 23rd.

“We’re not getting it done,” Cash said.

Asked what he sees in the offensive struggles, Cash said, “every facet of it.”

“I mean, we’re expanding,” he said. “We’re expanding on pitches that we probably can’t handle, and the pitches we can handle we’re not doing any damage with. We’re not able to piece too much together right now. So, I mean, it’s kind of all-encompassing.”

Friday, the Rays went 4-for-31 with one extra-base hit, a Yandy Diaz double in the fifth. Their four hits were their fewest against the Royals since May 26, 2021.

So, how do they get the offense going?

“Hit better,” Cash said. “They’re getting the messages. They’re putting the work in. They’re doing it, but at the end of the day you have to start getting some results. We have not gotten results to date and certainly didn’t (Friday). But we’ve got to hit better.”

That was a tough assignment against Royals ace Seth Lugo, who leads the American League with eight wins and a 1.74 ERA. The Rays reached him for a run in the first, scoring on a Jonathan Aranda force out, but then the right-hander shut them down for the next six innings.

“It looks like he’s throwing the pitches where he wants to throw them, and we scored in the first inning and we just couldn’t do anything after that,” Diaz said through team interpreter Manny Navarro.

One week after taking a perfect game into the eighth inning of a 4-3 win over the Blue Jays, Tyler Alexander was touched for eight runs on 11 hits, including two home runs, a walk and two hit batsmen. The lefty, who pitched behind opener Shawn Armstrong, struck out four over five innings.

The Royals (33-19), who won their season high-tying seventh straight game, capitalized on his mistakes. Bobby Witt Jr. hit his eighth home run of the season to lead off the seventh, and then Vinnie Pasquantino, who Alexander hit with a pitch, scored on a Freddy Fermin double.

“I wasn’t making quality pitches,” Alexander said. “I did make some good pitches; they got hit. I made some bad pitches, and they got hit, too. I didn’t control counts as well as I would have liked, but they’re a hot lineup right now.”

The Rays’ struggles on the mound and at the plate seemed to bleed into the field as well, giving the Royals even more chances.

They were unable to turn a double play on Fermin’s fourth-inning ground ball, leading to a two-run inning that put the Royals ahead. Alexander hit Salvador Perez with a pitch after getting ahead in the count, keeping the fifth inning alive for Michael Massey, who followed with a three-run homer. Catcher Alex Jackson failed to handle a throw from centerfielder Jose Siri in the sixth, resulting in another run.

“There’s no doubt we’ve got to start making the plays,” Cash said. “I mean, that’s a tough play for Jackson, where it hops. Ideally, he secures it. We’ve got to turn that double play without a doubt.”

Right now, however, everything seems to be snowballing on the Rays.

“I think so, a little bit,” Diaz said. “Sometimes when you struggle on the offensive side, it tends to go out on the defensive side a little bit. But you really can’t do anything with that.”

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