Sunday, April 10, 2011
Posted: 10:32 a.m.
After another feeble offensive performance, frustration might be building for the Tampa Bay Rays.
The Rays look to bounce back from their latest defeat and salvage a split of their four-game set with the Chicago White Sox on Sunday at U.S. Cellular Field.
Tampa Bay (1-7) rallied to beat Chicago 9-7 on Friday, hours after slugger Manny Ramirez retired rather than serve a second drug suspension, but had just six hits in a 4-2 loss Saturday.
The reigning AL East champions are batting .167 on the season, and have totaled 10 runs in their losses. At least one Tampa Bay player might have taken a bit of his frustration out late in Saturday's contest.
Third baseman Felipe Lopez took exception to an inside pitch from White Sox rookie Chris Sale in the ninth, then flipped his bat in the left-hander's direction after hitting a solo home run. When Lopez crossed home plate, he and Chicago catcher A.J. Pierzynski jawed at each other.
"That's something you don't want to see," Rays manager Joe Maddon said of Lopez throwing the bat.
Ben Zobrist drove in a run Saturday for the Rays, who mustered four hits and one run in six innings off Chicago fifth starter Philip Humber.
"It's all about playing good baseball," Maddon said. "We're just not hitting. That's why we're in such a dilemma right now."
Veteran Johnny Damon had a hit for the second straight game but is batting .107 with eight strikeouts for his new team. Damon, however, is 10 for 15 with a double and home run against scheduled White Sox starter Gavin Floyd (0-0, 5.14 ERA).
Though Damon has hit the right-hander well, Floyd is 2-1 with a 3.43 lifetime ERA versus Tampa Bay, going seven innings each time.
The White Sox (5-3) hope Floyd pitches the way he finished his first outing of the season. After giving up four runs the first two innings Tuesday, the right-hander threw five scoreless in a 7-6, 12-inning loss at Kansas City.
"I was able to bounce back, make it a somewhat respectable outing," Floyd told the White Sox's official website.
The Rays counter with Jeff Niemann (0-1, 7.50), who also looks for a complete effort after an inconsistent 2011 debut. He gave up five runs and nine hits in six innings of a 5-3 home loss to the Los Angeles Angels on Tuesday.
"A positive thing is I went out there and made it out to the seventh," Niemman told the Rays' official website. "I feel like I made some good adjustments and it's some good stuff to build off."
The right-hander is 2-2 with a 3.55 ERA versus Chicago, but has allowed just three runs and struck out 12 in 16 innings to win his last two starts against the White Sox.
Pierzynski, 5 for 11 against Niemann, went 2 for 3 with two RBIs on Saturday.
Teammate Paul Konerko is 2 for 12 versus Niemann, but is batting .375 and has hit safely in all eight games this season. Konerko had driven in a run in each game this season before failing to do so Saturday.
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