Ten walks, four wild pitches and an early 7-0 deficit add up to another dispiriting loss, 10-4 to the Angels.
© St. Petersburg Times, published May 27, 2001
ST. PETERSBURG -- The least they could do is walk to the beat of a different drummer.
With the Tropicana Field percussion crew providing an annoying soundtrack, the Rays again Saturday looked like the gang that couldn't throw strikes, or even throw straight, losing to Anaheim 10-4 before an announced 13,496.
The Rays walked 10 batters, one off their team record. They threw a club record-tying four wild pitches, putting them, with 35 in 48 games, on pace for a major-league season record 118. They threw 199 pitches (93 of which missed the strike zone) to 47 batters.
|[Times photo: Bill Serne]
Rays leftfielder Greg Vaughn tumbles over the warmup mound in foul territory while chasing a popup, which wound up underneath him.
"We haven't pitched well enough," Rays manager Hal McRae said.
After Saturday's debacle, the Rays' team ERA rose to 5.58 overall, highest for all teams but Texas, and 8.25 over a homestand in which they have gone 2-6 against three teams with losing records. It was the 19th time in 48 games the Rays have allowed eight or more runs, the ninth time their opponents have reached double figures.
When their hitters are slumping, coaches can suggest technical adjustments, shuffle players in and out of the lineup and shake up the batting order.
But when their pitching staff is struggling, and there doesn't appear to be anyone available who is significantly better, there isn't much they can do but hope and pray. Today, they will put their faith in Bryan Rekar, who is winless in 10 starts this season.
"I hope for a good ballgame," McRae said. "Someone to take us deep, someone to give us a (complete game) and give the bullpen a rest, a get-the-offense-off-the-field kind of performance. We haven't had one of those in a while. So that's what is needed, a well-pitched game. Like hitting, pitching is contagious. One of those guys throws a good game, there's a possibility the next guy will follow.
"Rekar is going (today) and he's pitched well. He's probably has been more consistent than anyone in the rotation. We haven't scored for him and we haven't played solid defense behind him, but performance-wise over the last three weeks he's probably been our best starting pitcher."
There were times during spring training when Rays officials felt Paul Wilson could be not only their best starting pitcher, but one of the top performers in the league.
But Wilson started miserably, winning just one of his first nine games and looking bad in doing so. He seemed to be much better in his last outing, a winning six-inning effort against Detroit, and he and the Rays coaches felt there had been considerable improvement.
Saturday's game undid all the good, as Wilson gave up seven runs in the first two innings, with nine of the first 13 batters reaching base, and neither he nor the Rays could recover. You only had to look briefly at Wilson sitting dejectedly in front of his locker to realize how bad he felt about things.
"You think you're on the right page, and it's amazing how you can go from one game to the other," said Wilson, whose 7.43 ERA is the highest among all qualifying American League pitchers. "We're always taught that you're never as good as you are and you're never as bad as you are, and I guess that kind of holds true. But it's just frustrating. I've never wanted a team to win so bad as I do for this team. It's just tough."
Wilson, of course, isn't the only culprit. The Rays have used eight starters, and they have combined for a 6.02 ERA and nine wins, which is about one a week.
The Rays, basically, had one somewhat brief opportunity to get back into the game, cutting the 7-0 lead to 7-4 on home runs by Gerald Williams (his first since April 24) in the second and Ben Grieve (his first since May 2) in the third. But what offense they had working stalled, and the Angels extended the lead to 10-4 by the fifth.
What has made the pitching struggles even more frustrating has been the recent surge by the hitters. The Rays have hit .302 during the first eight games of the homestand and .289 in May.
"We're trying to play winning baseball and we're not doing that," Williams said. "I think we're on the right path in terms that we understand what we have to do. Right now, it's just not translating into our total approach collectively."
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