Greg Vaughn vents after Oakland pounds Tampa Bay again 11-0.
© St. Petersburg Times, published September 11, 2000
OAKLAND, Calif. -- Losing 10-0 to Oakland on Saturday was bad enough. Losing 11-0 on Sunday apparently was too much.
The Devil Rays went down meekly again, prompting manager Larry Rothschild to hold a closed-door meeting after the game and Greg Vaughn to say he is embarrassed by the team's performance.
"Right now it's horses---," Vaughn said. "I hope everyone in here is embarrassed. I'm embarrassed. I'm going home tonight and I'm probably not going to go out to eat, if you know what I mean. As an individual, we all go through tough times, and I can handle that. But as a unit, I'm embarrassed."
Rothschild wouldn't describe the tenor or content of his post-game speech, which according to several players was stern but not explosive or ground-breaking.
But on the day the Rays were officially eliminated from the American League East race, he apparently reminded them of the effort he expects to see over the remaining 19 games.
And given that they are 2-8 in September and hitting .199 for the month, they might have needed to have the message reinforced.
"At some point there will be an evening out and I hope it happens quickly," Rothschild said. "The only way it evens out is if you keep going after it and bust your a-- and play hard. Otherwise you give in and there is no reason to think it gets evened out. That's all I ask these guys to do."
Outside of additional rhetoric, it doesn't seem that there is much for Rothschild to do. Nearly every veteran hitter is a slump, and more than half of the current pitching staff opened the season in the minor leagues.
"I've tried to change about everything," he said. "We just need guys to start swinging and hit their way out of it and to try to get the pitching back to where it was, but with the injuries it's tough. They're under pressure to pitch good games, and until we start swinging the bats, not just good games but real good games just for us to have a chance to win a game."
Sunday, it looked like they'd have a chance for about four innings.
Paul Wilson roared through the first three innings and the Rays seemed to be cobbling a rally against Oakland rookie left-hander Barry Zito in the fourth, but a controversial interference call by second-base umpire Doug Eddings against Vaughn for sliding out of the basepath cost them.
Instead of having runners on first and third with one out, they had a man on second with two outs, and Jose Guillen's fly to center ended the inning.
"We would have had some momentum," Vaughn said, "but he shot that right in the butt. Boom. Pop. There will be no momentum for you guys."
Instead, the A's got rolling. Randy Velarde homered in the fourth, the first Wilson allowed in 32 innings this season, and the A's broke the game open with a six-run outburst in the fifth.
Two walks and two-run singles by Terrence Long and Jason Giambi keyed the damage.
"If this game was only three or four innings long I'd be Cy Young, but it ain't," Wilson said. "Six runs in one inning is pretty much a backbreaker."
Trailing 7-0, the Rays were pretty much done, managing just two singles the rest of the way.
It wasn't dissimilar to Saturday, when they were behind 5-0 after two innings and 21 of their last 22 batters went down meekly.
"I think what's happened a little bit is that we get behind in games and we're looking at it like any lead is insurmountable and that's just not the case," Rothschild said.
The Rays had never been shut out in back-to-back games, and the 11-0 beating matched their July 4 flagging by Detroit as their worst shutout loss in history.
Can it get any worse?
"I hope not," Rothschild said. "I would hope that's the bottom."
As upset as he was, Vaughn said the Rays should find a way to use the beatings as motivation, starting with tonight's game.
"Is is frustrating? Hell yes," he said. "To me that should be more intention for us to come out and be hungrier (tonight). The beat us for two days so why can't we do the same thing to them? I'm home and I've been embarrassed the last two days.
"Why can't we embarrass them?"