It's 100 down, more to come
JAYS 8, RAYS 4: In 148th game, Tampa Bay becomes first to lose 100 twice in a row since '79.
By KEVIN KELLY, Times Staff Writer
© St. Petersburg Times
published September 15, 2002
TORONTO -- When they lost their 100th game the final day of last season, there was hope and optimism for the Rays.
The kids had a future.
The Rays lost their 100th of this season Saturday, 8-4 to the Blue Jays before 22,155 at SkyDome, to become the 38th team since 1900 to do so in 148 games or fewer and first in 23 years in back-to-back seasons.
"Playing like the way we've been playing, I think 100 losses was inevitable," shortstop Chris Gomez said. "We were playing pretty well at the end of last year. Right now it just seems like we're kind of waiting for the season to end. Everyone is out here trying, and I'm not saying the effort is not there, but we're just not very good."
You have to go back to 1949 to find an AL team that reached 100 more quickly. The Washington Senators did it in 147 games.
The Rays have 14 games left and are on pace to lose 109, which would give them a .327 winning percentage, one of the worst ever.
"It's significant because it's going to be talked about," manager Hal McRae said. "Nobody wants to lose 100 games and this is the second consecutive season we've lost 100 games. And we lost it earlier this year than we did it last year. So it's significant in that light.
"To lose 100 games means you're not very good, that you beat yourself a lot. It means you've got a lot of work to do."
On a team that has lost in about every way possible, the season has been particularly tough for starting pitcher Tanyon Sturtze.
Almost fittingly, the right-hander started Saturday and got his 17th loss after allowing six runs on seven hits over five innings. Three runs came on homers by Carlos Delgado, who hit two, and streaking rookie Josh Phelps.
Sturtze is 3-17 after leading the team with 11 victories as the club's most valuable player.
"It's been a frustrating season for a lot of us in this clubhouse," Sturtze said. "I know a lot of guys wanted to put up some good numbers this year, and it just didn't happen for a lot of people."
The Rays took a 1-0 lead in the first on a sacrifice fly to centerfield by designated hitter Randy Winn that scored Damian Rolls.
But Toronto scored two each in the second, third and fifth off Sturtze before the Rays made it 6-2 with a semi-rally in the seventh.
They left the bases loaded in the final three innings, including the ninth, when they had a chance to tie against closer Kelvim Escobar.
"We were unable to break through with the clutch base hits," McRae said. "Our struggles are more offensive than pitching-wise. We're just not scoring enough runs."
The 1996 Tigers were the last team that lost 109, dropping 22 of their final 26. That's a pace Tampa Bay could rival.
The Rays have gone 1-11 since Sept. 3 and lost six in a row, and the schedule doesn't relent with seven games left against the first-place Yankees and three against the Red Sox.
"We can't hide behind the cliches. Enough is enough," McRae said before the game. "Somehow we need to be able to hold our heads up. We're not doing a good job of it. But we've got to try and do things so that we're able to watch SportsCenter or read a paper where there's not a joke about our record and who we're playing and how they should be able to clean up on us."
Reality is, next season could mirror the past two.
Likely to be gone are relief pitcher Wilson Alvarez and catcher John Flaherty. Pitchers Paul Wilson, Ryan Rupe and Sturtze are arbitration-eligible and could be too expensive to retain.
The Rays have talked about trying to add a middle infielder, if Gomez's option isn't picked up, and another late-inning reliever. A second surge of young talent could be led by outfielder Rocco Baldelli, Baseball America's minor-league player of the year, and pitcher Dewon Brazelton, recalled from Triple A on Friday.
"I think we've got some really good young players," Sturtze said. "I don't know how many of us are going to be around next year, probably not as many of us. But I think the young players that we have are going to be fine."
Back to the Rays
RaysIt's 100 down, more to come
Vaughn sits, waits, doesn't complain
Uptons anticipate a smooth transition
Walker will stick around
Kickin' back: Never an embarrassing moment
High Profile: Aaron Stecker
Chucky's Chalk Talk
Ravens mortgaged future for title, with no regrets
LightningFedotenko brings color to Lightning
Prospect lights up scrimmage
Florida remedies few weaknesses
As ugly as can be for Bulls vs. Hogs
College football: Sick child receives valuable gift
Special teams make progress for UF
Weather delays 1st half
Local star steps in for Terps
Sloppiness doesn't cost Miami in rout of Temple
Big East: Syracuse rebounds against overmatched R.I.
ACC: Tiger defense preserves victory after late fumble
Around the State: Printers leads FAMU at Riverfront Classic
Around the nation: Nevada quarterback helps knock off BYU
Big Ten: Freshman Clarett spurs Buckeyes
Big 12: Trojans give Buffs little in trouncing
Irish squeak by Wolverines
SEC: Texas Tech sets Big 12 mark against Ole Miss
S.C. miscues lift Bulldogs
C-USA: West Virginia escapes Cincy's comeback specialist
Pac-10: Oregon continues mastery of Idaho
USF stumbles badly out of the blocks
Arkansas' blitz, mistakes silence Bulls offense
Rams will not abandon their confidence game
NFL Game Day: Week 2
Tough times near end for Tampa Bay Classic
A threat has little effect on Fleisher
Two-time titlist top qualifier for World Team Challenge
Battle in Texas to decide IRL
Montoya has fastest F1 lap
Montgomery breaks world record in 100
Highs and Lows
Rivera is upbeat over BP session
NL: Risk pays off for red-hot Cards
AL: A's silence Mariners bats again
Cold spells may doom Red Sox
Depth the difference as Jaguars, Tigers repeat
Seminole's turnaround culminates
This time, Warhawks outduel Hurricanes
Level of competition the focus for Mitchell
Second-place finish helps Bucs enjoy trip
Mustangs, Knights overcome course
Plant teams pull off sweep
Daily fishing report
Game between 'Canes, Gatorsis worth seeing every season