By JOHN ROMANO
© St. Petersburg Times, published April 6, 2001
ST. PETERSBURG -- The first inning, all agreed, was a miserable sight. Two errors, two hits, four unearned runs.
The next eight innings are what concerned Greg Vaughn. Tampa Bay's designated hitter was disturbed by the lack of fight offered by the Rays in what turned out to be an 11-0 loss to Toronto before an announced 14,023 Thursday.
"Today was ugly. You can't blame anybody for not wanting to come and watch this. I wouldn't want to watch," Vaughn said. "Everybody says (we have) no fans. I wouldn't tell anybody to spend their hard-earned money to come watch this. This was crazy. I'm just telling the truth.
"We've got to turn it around. I don't think my expectations are too high. Maybe I'm being a little foolish or stupid, but I believe our team is too good to play the way we have the last two days."
To review the past two days:
The bullpen contributed two blown saves and gave up seven runs in four innings in an 11-8 loss Wednesday night.
The defense, after allowing one unearned run on Wednesday, turned it up a notch Thursday by tying a team record with five errors that were converted into six unearned runs.
The offense was held to four hits over eight innings Thursday by Chris Carpenter, who had not pitched a shutout since July 5, 1999 -- against the Rays.
"You can't win one game and then take two days off," Vaughn said. "We have to come out ready to go from the first inning every day. When things get tough we have to come out fighting harder instead of taking that (attitude), "Here we go again,' and put your head down.
"I don't feel sorry for anybody in here. We all go through tough times, but that's when you have to show what you're really made of. After (Wednesday's) game, we should have come in here ready to go. If we had won today, we would have won the series."
Thursday's game, and the three-game series, were over within the first five hitters.
Bryan Rekar retired leadoff hitter Shannon Stewart before Alex Gonzalez dropped a bunt single. Raul Mondesi hit a sinking liner to rightfield that Ben Grieve lost in the lights for a two-base error.
The Rays walked Carlos Delgado to avoid his hot bat and set up a force play and Rekar got Brad Fullmer to hit a hard grounder that could have been an inning-ending double play. Instead, the ball skipped past third baseman Vinny Castilla for another error and the game's first run.
A two-run double by Darrin Fletcher buried the Rays 4-0.
"We didn't play a good game today, that's obvious. We need to do better than this, that's clear," manager Larry Rothschild said. "It wasn't lack of effort, it was just one of those games that everything kind of happened in the wrong way."
That is not an uncommon occurrence when Carpenter is facing the Rays. The right-hander is 5-1 with a 1.31 ERA against Tampa Bay. He is 30-33 with a 5.30 ERA against the rest of the majors. Carpenter added a career-high 11 strikeouts on Thursday.
"He would have been effective against anybody the way he threw the ball today. His stuff was that good," Rothschild said. "The reports in spring training were that he wasn't throwing the ball that good. After the first inning you could see the velocity came up, the movement was there, he had a real sharp curveball."
The Rays never had more than one runner on base in any inning and, with double plays, left only four runners on base.
"It makes it easy when you score early. You can go out there and relax," Carpenter said. "I was making quality pitches early and getting ahead of the guys. I could pretty much throw a strike whenever I wanted to." This opening series was a little more critical than most. Not only are the Rays in last place after three days, but they are beginning an 11-game road trip today that goes from Boston to Toronto to Baltimore.
After winning the opener 8-1 on Tuesday, the Rays needed only to split the next two games to begin the season with a series victory.
Instead, they head to Boston on a two-game losing streak and coming off one of the worst losses in franchise history.
"Today was ugly. Real ugly," Vaughn said. "I've been playing 20 years. I don't know if it gets any worse than that."
WHERE: Fenway Park, Boston.
TV/RADIO: Fox Sports Net; WFLA-AM 970, WLCC-AM 760 (Spanish).
RAYS AT BOSTON IN 2000:
May 5: Boston 5, Tampa Bay 3 (W -- R. Martinez, L -- Eiland); May 6: Tampa Bay 1, Boston 0 (W -- Trachsel, L -- P. Martinez); May 7: Boston 9, Tampa Bay 7 (W -- Fassero, L -- Rekar); Aug. 14: Boston 7, Tampa Bay 3 (W -- Lowe, L -- Taylor); Aug. 15: Tampa Bay 3, Boston 1 (W -- Sturtze, L -- Fassero); Aug. 16: Boston 4, Tampa Bay 3 (W -- Arrojo, L -- Wilson).
RYAN RUPE: Rupe has faced Boston once, pitching six innings and allowing one run while striking out four and walking one on Aug. 16 before receiving a no decision.
TOMO OHKA: Finished 3-8 in 13 games with Boston last season. Pitched a perfect game for Triple-A Pawtucket June 1, becoming the third pitcher in the 117-year history of the International League to accomplish that feat.
SCOUTING REPORT: The Red Sox have the second-largest payroll in the majors and the largest migraine. Major acquisition Manny Ramirez had an awful spring, shortstop Nomar Garciaparra just had wrist surgery and is out for the first half, manager Jimy Williams has feuded with star Carl Everett and benched second baseman Jose Offerman, and David Cone and Bret Saberhagen began the season on the disabled list. Other than that, life is hunky-dory in Boston.
THE PAST MONTH: The Red Sox led the majors with 48 home runs in the spring and had a 14-16 Grapefruit League record. Pedro Martinez failed to deliver a win on opening day, but Hideo Nomo pitched a no-hitter against the Orioles in his Red Sox debut on Wednesday night.
EX-RAYS: Rolando Arrojo, the first Devil Rays All-Star representative, is in Boston's bullpen. Arrojo was in Boston's rotation last summer after being acquired from Colorado, going 5-2 with a 5.05 ERA in 13 starts. He was moved to long relief halfway through spring training.
PITCHING MATCHUPS: Today, RHP Ryan Rupe (5-6, 6.92 in 2000) vs. RHP Tomo Ohka (3-6, 3.12 in 2000); Saturday, RHP Travis Harper (1-2, 4.78 in 2000) vs. RHP Paxton Crawford (2-1, 3.41 in 2000); Sunday, RHP Albie Lopez (1-0, 1.13) vs. RHP Pedro Martinez (0-0, 1.29).
2000 SEASON SERIES: The Rays split the 12-game series with the Red Sox last season, going 2-4 at Fenway Park. The Rays were held to three runs or fewer in nine of those 12 games. Steve Cox hit .360 with two home runs against Boston in 2000. Everett had four home runs and 12 RBI against the Rays.
WHO'S HOT: Darren Lewis led the AL in batting average (.433) and slugging percentage (.817) in spring training.
WHO'S NOT: Dante Bichette has lost his starting job at designated hitter and has asked to be traded. -- JOHN ROMANO