04/28/07 8:12 PM ET
Rays reeling after frustrating loss
Fossum allows nine runs on nine hits over five innings
By Bill Chastain / MLB.com
Saturday brought the team its most recent backward step when the A's scored six in the first and two in the second to lead a 12-5 win over the Rays in front of a crowd of 26,760 at McAfee Coliseum.
Good times have come in intervals the past week.
The Rays began the week with a two-game sweep of the Yankees at Tropicana Field. Any giddiness derived from the home sweep then dissolved in Anaheim when the Angels swept their two-game series against the Rays, outscoring the Rays by a margin of 20-4.
On Friday night, the Rays regrouped behind James Shields' stellar pitching performance to take a 4-1 win against the A's. Turn the corner the Rays did not though, as they came out flat Saturday.
"[Thursday's five-run] first inning in Anaheim was a bad first inning," Maddon said. "The first inning today, a bad inning again. We have to get ready to play mentally. We made mistakes early in these games. We can't do that. ... Overall I felt like we set a bad tone early on and we messed it up. It was just kind of a déjà vu of the day game against the Angels."
When asked about what it is going to take to get the Rays to turn things around, Maddon said he didn't have any solid answers, but he had to figure it out.
"It's just a mental thing," Maddon said. "We've got to get out there and turn up that dial. Again, it's a youthful thing sometimes. ... We just have to turn up that mental dial early in the game and not wait for something bad to happen. And then we dig ourselves in a hole. We've got to play from the first pitch. The physical preparation is good. We give them all the information. We just have to be more acute mentally early in the game."
Carl Crawford said the players in the lineup have to become more consistent.
"We all got to become more consistent with our play," Crawford said. "Some days we come and play well, some days we just don't. For whatever reason that is, we probably just need to fix it."
Crawford added that he felt Maddon "needs to be more specific" if he sees players not ready for the game.
"I don't know, but he needs to tell those guys directly that they need to be ready to play the first inning and maybe they'll be ready to play," Crawford said.
If any offense appeared ready to be handled, the A's fit the description as they entered the game ranked last in the American League in runs scored with just 80 in 23 games. Said perception changed in the first inning when the A's sent nine hitters to the plate against Rays starter Casey Fossum.
The A's cobbled together five hits -- one of them a three-run homer by Travis Buck -- to take a 6-0 lead. The A's added two more run in the second on Mike Piazza's RBI single and another when Rays shortstop Ben Zobrist kicked the ball into center field to give the A's an 8-1 lead. Mark Ellis added a home run off Fossum in the fifth to push the lead to 9-2.
"I dug myself in a hole in the first inning," Fossum said. "... It's just frustrating, putting the team down six runs in the first inning. It's just hard to come back from that. ... The first inning just flew by. I felt like I was ready. And I got a couple of ground balls in the first inning. Couple of inches here or there, it would have been a quick inning. That's just how baseball is."
Fossum's first-inning performance was reminiscent of Jae Seo's start Thursday when he surrendered five runs in the first inning. To Fossum's credit, he gutted out five innings even though the outcome of the game was hardly in question.
"I was still able to go five innings and kind of save the bullpen," Fossum said. "That's what you've got to do when you're in that situation, try to go as long as you can to save our bullpen."
Eric Chavez struck the final indignity to the Rays when he hit a three-run homer off Ruddy Lugo in the seventh, which gave A's fans something to cheer for on a day when Chavez bobblehead dolls were the giveaway.
Dan Haren started and gave the A's a solid seven innings in which the Rays could do little against the right-hander. B.J. Upton provided most of the Rays' offense with his fourth home run of the season, a solo shot in the second, and he doubled and scored on Elijah Dukes' single in the fifth; he later added another single. Dukes also had three hits on the afternoon.
While Friday night's 4-1 win broke the Rays' 11-game losing streak in the Pacific Time Zone, the Rays have still won just three times in their last 13 contests in the state of California where the team has a 26-67 all-time record. In addition, the Rays' all-time record at McAfee Coliseum moved to 9-35.
Bill Chastain is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.