Rays' Struggles Against Lefties Continue

The Rays continue to have trouble against left-handed pitchers. Oakland's Dallas Braden was the latest lefty to beat them, as they fell to 16-15 against left-handed starters compared to 42-26 against right-handers. Plus they're hitting far worse against lefties overall, .247 as opposed to .264 against righties.

The Rays continue to have trouble against left-handed pitchers.

Oakland's Dallas Braden was the latest lefty to beat them, as they fell to 16-15 against left-handed starters compared to 42-26 against right-handers. Plus they're hitting far worse against lefties overall, .247 as opposed to .264 against righties.

The Rays have a predominantly left-handed lineup, and it's typical for their left-handed hitters, even everyday players such as Akinori Iwamura, Carl Crawford and Carlos Pena, to struggle against lefties.

But their problem is that some of their top right-handers, such as B.J. Upton and Evan Longoria, also have struggled, and Jonny Gomes -- whose primary job is to hit lefties -- hasn't done much yet (.205 average). That gives them another reason to miss injured shortstop Jason Bartlett, who has a .324 average against lefties.

"The solution is that we just have to hit better against them (lefties)," manager Joe Maddon said. "The group that we have, we have plenty of right-handed hitters out there. We just have to do a better job with it. The lefties in the past, Carlos has done some good work against them, so has Carl and so has Aki, actually. So we've just got to stay with it, hang with it, and we're going to get better at it. I'm certain of that."

The other option is a trade for a right-handed bat, which is also a possibility.

A'S 8, RAYS 1: Oakland's Dallas Braden became the latest lefty to shut down the Rays, who have lost nine of 12. Andy Sonnanstine gave up a costly three-run home run in the fourth inning.


—LHP Trever Miller has struggled in his last three appearances, recording just one out while walking five (one intentional) and allowing five earned runs, and has "no idea" why. "That's the job I'm in -- three bad outings, your season can be ruined," Miller said. "That's where I'm at right now. I don't like it. I'm letting the team down. ... I'm not going to sleep well tonight."

—OF Jonny Gomes isn't hitting much yet, but at least is showing patience at the plate. He has three walks in his last three starts, drawing some praise from manager Joe Maddon for his handling of a difficult platoon role. "The situation where I'm in right now, if I can leave the game knowing I swung at strikes and took balls, that's a win in my book," Gomes said.

—SS Jason Bartlett's sprained right knee continues to feel good, and the Rays seem confident he will be activated soon, possibly as soon as Thursday in Kansas City. They will have to decide how to make room -- whether to send down INF Ben Zobrist or keep him as insurance to make sure Bartlett can play every day.

—Class AAA Durham RHP Jeremy Cummings was added to the U.S. Olympic team.

—RHP Andy Sonnanstine pitched seven solid innings, but was the losing pitcher of record as the Oakland Athletics defeated the Tampa Bay Rays, 8-1, in the second game of a three-game series at Tropicana Field on Tuesday night. Sonnanstine allowed three runs on five hits, striking out five while walking one. All of the runs that he surrendered came in the fourth inning on a three-run home run off the bat of Jack Hannahan, who is now 3-for-8 with two homers against the 25-year-old right-hander.

Tyler's Take: While Sonnanstine is leading the Rays with 10 wins, his record is a bit misleading. In fact, the Kent State product has posted the highest ERA and opponents' batting average and OPS among all Tampa Bay starters. With the rare home loss for the Rays, his record falls to 10-5.

After his outing on Tuesday, Sonnanstine has thrown 120 innings in 2008, only 80 fewer frames than his professional career high, which he recorded between Triple-A and the majors last year. He has won 15 games since August 15, 2007, but has been extremely lucky when it comes to receiving run support. The righty has excellent command—79-to-22 K/W ratio—but leaves little room for error with his fringe stuff. All of these factors point towards regression for Sonnanstine the rest of the way, as the Rays march towards making their first-ever postseason appearance.

BY THE NUMBERS: 6 —Saves in as many save opportunities by the Rays bullpen during the 14 games closer Troy Percival spent on the disabled list.

QUOTE TO NOTE: "Definitely one of my prouder at-bats." — Rookie 3B Evan Longoria, after hitting his first career grand slam off Toronto's Roy Halladay on Saturday.


SS Jason Bartlett (sprained right knee) went on the 15-day disabled list July 3. He may return July 24.

OF/DH Rocco Baldelli (leg fatigue) opened the season on the 60-day disabled list. He played on a rehab assignment with Class A Vero Beach from June 16-29, then was held out. He started a new rehab assignment with Class AA Montgomery on July 16.

Tyler's Take: Through his first five games of a rehab assignment, Baldelli is batting .188/.278/.375 for the Montgomery Biscuits. More important, though, he has made tremendous progress with his rare health condition. If he can stay on the field, the former star has a strong chance to earn a September call-up for the Rays.

For Balldelli, it's been one step up, two steps back, writes Sean McAdam.

RHP Chad Orvella (sore right shoulder) opened the season on the 15-day disabled list, and he was transferred to the 60-day DL on April 13. He had season-ending surgery May 23 to repair an impingement.


The Rays have 2/5 odds of making it to the playoffs, writes Jeff Passan. But he is not exactly excellent when it comes to math.

Jason Bartlett is likely to be activated from the DL before Thursday's game, writes Bill Chastain.

Tyler Hissey contributed to this report. You can reach him by sending an email to TylerHissey@gmail.com.

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