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Fast-charging Rays have no answers after latest collapse

The Tampa Bay Rays charged out of the gates like Secretariat in his prime but ended the 2023 season as a team with nothing left in the tank for the stretch drive.

The club that outscored opponents 101-30 during a lava-hot 13-0 start was outscored 11-1 while beating swept in two games by the Texas Rangers in the American League wild-card round.

That makes two straight wild-card eliminations without a single victory. The Rays scored two total runs in the four games against the Rangers and the 2022 Cleveland Guardians.

“We’d like to continue playing, but I can’t put my finger on one specific thing why we’ve been eliminated pretty quickly,” Tampa Bay manager Kevin Cash said of the latest October pratfall.

Overall, Tampa Bay has lost seven straight postseason games dating back to a Game 1 win over the Boston Red Sox in the 2021 AL Division Series.

The Rays won 99 games this season, second in franchise history behind the 100-victory team in 2021.

But when the postseason bell rang, Tampa Bay didn’t respond to the clang.

“We did the best we could. We couldn’t get it done. It’s unfortunate,” first baseman Yandy Díaz said through an interpreter. “We couldn’t get any hits. We made a few errors, and that’s what happened.”

When Curtis Mead delivered an RBI single in the seventh inning of Wednesday’s 7-1 loss, it ended a 33-inning postseason scoreless streak for the Rays. The longest is a 34-inning streak the Los Angeles Dodgers had from 1966-74.

“I’m glad we scored a run because if not we’d have been talking about that a lot,” Cash said. “Look, our bats just didn’t come to life.”

Tampa Bay didn’t have its regular double-play combo with second baseman Brandon Lowe lost to a season-ending knee injury and shortstop Wander Franco on administrative leave while Major League
Baseball investigates allegations that he had relations with minors.

Still, right-hander Zack Eflin wasn’t ready to go on vacation in the first week of October.

“We didn’t expect to be out right now,” Eflin said. “There’s no easy way to say it sucks. I really didn’t have any offseason plans until the first week of November and the second week of November. It’s not a good feeling.”

All the Rays have plenty of time now. Again.

–Field Level Media

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