Rays' 13-0 start a memory after losing two straight to Rangers for quick postseason exit
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) — The Tampa Bay Rays looked like the team to beat when they started the season 13-0 while outscoring opponents 101-30.
Two days into the postseason, the Rays quickly were dispatched for the third straight year.
Texas advanced to an AL Division Series by beating the Rays 7-1 on Wednesday for a two-game sweep.
The potent offense that spearheaded Tampa Bay to first place from opening day through mid-July faded down the stretch.
“It's frustrating, but it's part of the game,” Rays manager Kevin Cash said.
Curtis Mead's seventh-inning RBI single stopped Tampa Bay's 33-inning postseason scoreless streak dating to last year, The streak was the second longest in MLB history, trailing only the Los Angeles Dodgers 34-inning run from 1966-74. Tampa Bay hit .161 in four playoff games over two years.
“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 lost key contributors from the impressive start.
Shortstop Wander Franco was placed on administrative leave by Major League Baseball in August as Dominican Republic authorities look into allegations of a relationship with a minor. Slugging second baseman Brandon Lowe ended the season sidelined by a knee injury, while center fielder Jose Siri returned from a fractured right hand for Game 1 but didn't play on Wednesday.
“Look, that's a easy narrative,” Cash said. “We are who we are, and we finished the regular season with the guys we had. I still feel that we could have had a better showing with the roster we had.”
Zach Eflin, Wednesday’s losing pitcher, said the abrupt ending isn't easy.
“We didn't expect to be out right now,” Efllin 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.”
Tampa Bay has lost a franchise-record seven straight postgame games.
“Unfortunately this is a series where we couldn’t get runs, we couldn’t get enough guys on base,” Tampa Bay shortstop Taylor Walls said. “We couldn’t quite hold their offense and keep their offense quiet enough to try and make things happen.
Eflin, tied for the AL lead with 16 regular-season wins. He and Game 1 starter Tyler Glasnow combined for 6.30 ERA against the Rangers, allowing seven earned runs in 10 innings.
“I just thanked them.” Cash said of his parting words to the team. "It's a pretty special group. Want more for them than maybe we got. But thanked the staff, the support staff and mostly the players for the way that they kind of held everything together."
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