The Rays keep talking about getting hot and possibly catching the New York Yankees. The team believes once the bats come alive, it could catch Boston or Los Angeles in this year's wild-card race. After Tampa Bay's 3-1 loss to Toronto on Tuesday in front of 13,333 fans at Tropicana Field, the Rays might need to set more a realistic goal — fighting off Toronto for third place in the AL East. Tampa Bay (56-52) leads Toronto (56-53) by a half-game in the division. With two more games remaining in this series, Tampa Bay could fall to fourth place. Considering Tampa Bay has lost 11 of its past 17 games, avoiding that slide could be easier said than done. "You have to keep pounding on the door until it actually opens up," Rays manager Joe Maddon said. "We have to keep pounding on that offensive door until it wants to open up for us." The Rays' bats were cold once again as they managed only three hits. Toronto pitcher Ricky Romero (9-9) had a no-hitter going until rookie left fielder Desmond Jennings broke it up with a solo home run in the sixth inning. Tampa Bay's offensive struggles were evident in the second inning. Ben Zobrist led off with a walk and Casey Kotchman was hit by a pitch. B.J. Upton walked to load the bases loaded with no outs. Romero had the Rays just where he wanted them. Matt Joyce struck out swinging. Kelly Shoppach struck out swinging. Sean Rodriguez grounded into a fielder's choice to third, ending Tampa Bay's scoring threat. "It's happened way too often," Maddon said. "Strike out, strike out, then a ground ball to third. Even to move the ball right there, that's all you're looking for. Again, the hitters are trying. Believe me, they're trying. It's just not working right now."
Romero, Jays top Rays, 3-1
Tampa Tribune | Aug 3