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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.

Now what?

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."


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  • NFL Game Day: Week 2

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  • Tough times near end for Tampa Bay Classic
  • A threat has little effect on Fleisher

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  • Rivera is upbeat over BP session
  • NL: Risk pays off for red-hot Cards
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  • Cold spells may doom Red Sox

  • Prep
  • 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
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  • Plant teams pull off sweep

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