Rays Roundup: Maddon Not Making Excuses

In today's edition of Rays Roundup: Manager Joe Maddon is not using injuries as an excuse for the team's recent lack of winning, outfielder Desmond Jennings is set to begin a rehab assignment on Thursday, Alex Cobb gives the Rays five innings for the second consecutive time and Luke Scott ties Matt Joyce for the team home run lead. All of that and more inside.

INSIDE PITCH

Maddon won't use injuries as an excuse

The Rays, who are off Thursday, stumbled to a 14-14 record this month after being swept in a three-game series by the visiting White Sox. Wednesday's 4-3 loss was Tampa Bay's fourth defeat in its past five games.

The Rays scored six runs, managed a total of 14 hits and were 1-for-12 with runners in scoring position during the three losses to the White Sox. Wednesday was the third time in the five games the Rays were held to five hits or fewer.

It didn't help that the White Sox are the hottest team in baseball, winners of 12 of 13 and 16 of their last 22. Wednesday's win was their eighth straight.

Still, an injury-thinned lineup appears to be catching up with the Rays.

Even with the addition of Hideki Matsui (who did not start Wednesday) the Tampa Bay lineup often looked more like a Class AAA unit during the second half of the month.

"Regardless if we are missing people or not, we expect more of ourselves than that," manager Joe Maddon said. "It's not about the people we are missing. The people that are here have to figure out more ways to be more creative, more resourceful and get these runs.

"We're playing it hard, but we're also making mistakes. We're not playing really a high level of baseball right now. Too many mistakes on the field, things that we're not used to doing. We have to get better there also. Again, we don't make excuses. The people that are out there, we have to do a better job, whether it's catching the ball or having better at-bats when it's necessary."


NOTES, QUOTES

Jennings scheduled to start rehab assignment Thursday

--LF Desmond Jennings (sprained left knee) ran the bases and participated in sliding drills Wednesday. He will begin a rehab assignment Thursday with Class A Charlotte, then move to Class AAA Durham on Friday. Baring any setbacks, Jennings could rejoin the Rays next week during their three-game series against the Yankees in New York.

--1B Carlos Pena ended an 0-for-17 drought with a two-run homer in the sixth inning. Pena is 5-for-27 (.185) with three home runs and six RBI in seven games as the leadoff hitter.

--RHP Alex Cobb drilled a pair of White Sox on Wednesday, 3B Gordon Beckham in the first inning and C A.J. Pierzynski in the third. This came one day after Pierzynski slid late and hard past second base and into the left foot of Rays 2B Ben Zobrist while breaking up a double play. Chicago LHP Jose Quintana threw behind the knees of Zobrist in the fourth inning and was ejected.

Cobb (2-1) suffered his first loss of the season after allowing four runs and a career-high nine hits in five innings. Better defense by 3B Drew Sutton in the first inning might have prevented the first run of the game, and Cobb buckled down to pitch out of a bases-loaded, no-out jam in the second inning. But Cobb, making his third start since being called up to replace RHP Jeff Niemann (broken right fibula), gave the Rays five innings for a second straight start.

--DH Luke Scott caught RF Matt Joyce for the team lead in homers with his ninth of the season, a solo shot to left field in the second inning. Scott's last two homers have been opposite-field shots into the left field seats. His last six home runs have been solo homers.

BY THE NUMBERS: 6 -- Hits in the last 48 at-bats for 2B Ben Zobrist, whose batting average dipped to .203 after he went 0-for-4 Wednesday.

QUOTE TO NOTE: "When a pitcher throws behind someone like that, it's pretty obvious what their intent was regardless of the denials on the other side." -- Rays manager Joe Maddon, on the fastball White Sox LHP Jose Quintana threw behind 2B Ben Zobrist, a pitch Quintana claimed simply got away.


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