09/29/09 6:55 PM ET
Rays can relate to Orioles' skid
Tampa Bay recently endured 11-game losing streak
By Alden Gonzalez / MLB.com
The Rays know that feeling all too well.
It was a little more than two weeks ago that Tampa Bay was in the midst of its own 11-game losing streak before actually snapping it with an 8-4 win over Baltimore at Camden Yards on Sept. 14.
And the Rays knew this much: It was no fun.
"It stinks to lose, but I guess when we were going through it, all we were thinking about was to just try and win this little part of the game," utility man Ben Zobrist said. "If we can keep this part of the game under control, then that was it, because we were getting too wrapped up in wins and losses.
"If you're not getting victories at the end of the game, you have to find your victories during the game at some point. Sometimes you lose because the other team just beat you, but sometimes you beat yourself. We know how that feels."
With its 11th consecutive defeat on Monday, the Orioles reached their longest losing streak in more than five years and tied the Rays (Sept. 3-13) and Indians (Sept. 13-24) for the longest such run in the Major Leagues this season.
For the Orioles, it's been their bullpen that has taken a hit, as their relief corps has posted an 8.73 ERA in the first seven games of their road trip.
For the Rays, it was the offense that abandoned them, as they mustered just 23 runs -- an average of about 2.1 a game -- in their 11 losses. During that stretch, Tampa Bay dropped eight games to the Red Sox and Yankees and even lost first baseman Carlos Pena for the season with two broken fingers.
"I just tried to come to the ballpark and be the same guy," manager Joe Maddon said about his approach during the Rays' tough streak.
"It really was the perfect storm, and it just grabbed us at the wrong time. For me, when you go through those moments, that's when I think your players need your support more than at any time -- as long as they're still playing. When people are quitting on you, that's a different story. But as long as they're still playing, to me, it's about remaining consistent, and that's what I try to do."
The Rays won't be making a second consecutive run to the playoffs this year. The 11-game losing streak helped speed up the process of being mathematically eliminated, which came one week ago, but they've recovered nicely after the skid.
Since then, the Rays have won eight of 13, and they need to go just 2-4 to accomplish back-to-back winning seasons.
Though that's not the end result the reigning American League champions strived for going into this season, the feeling now is at least much better than it was during the streak the Orioles currently are experiencing.
"When things start going bad in the game, automatically you're thinking, 'Oh, here we go again,'" Zobrist said about the mentality during a losing streak that long. "It's hard to stay out of that mental rut and just really start focusing on positive things happening. When you start expecting positive things to happen, then it seems like they come a little bit easier. But when you're expecting to lose, you end up losing."
Alden Gonzalez is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.