4/19/2014 12:55 A.M. ET
Need for Bedard underscores Rays' depth
By Bill Chastain / MLB.com
ST. PETERSBURG -- By starting for the Rays on Friday night, Erik Bedard became the 21st starting pitcher used by the Rays since 2008, the fewest of any team in baseball. (The Giants are second with 24.)
The Orioles (45) and the Padres (44) have each used more than twice as many starters in that span.
Of the 21 starters, Bedard is only the third signed as a free agent to make a start, joining right-handers Roberto Hernandez and Jamey Wright (both in 2013).
Bedard is the seventh starter the Rays have used this season, equaling their total in 2009 and '10, and one shy of their total in '11 and '12. In 2013, the Rays used 10 starters -- their most in one season since '06.
Advanced hitting stats on Rays' side
ST. PETERSBURG -- Before Friday night's 11-5 win over the Yankees, there was no getting around the fact the Rays were in a funk, particularly their hitters.
Despite the fact the club had lost four straight, the same mood as always seemed to prevail.
Chris Archer, who will start against the Yankees on Saturday night, noted of the Rays' start: "It's so early. Nobody's really down; we understand that 90 percent of the season is left."
Throughout the funk, Rays manager Joe Maddon continued to be the portrait of an easy rider.
"We just have to keep swinging away, and eventually we'll find a hole here or there," said Maddon, who has not sensed any frustration inside the clubhouse. "They'll come up by me for their at-bat; maybe one or two have been frustrated. But for the most part, they're really upbeat about the moment, so I kind of like that. I think if they keep hearing a consistent message from me and us, we'll be able to handle this well. ... It's all about the message and how you carry out the day."
Maddon has maintained all along that Rays hitters have been making solid contact -- a contention with some validation. According to Mark Simon of ESPN.com, the Rays entered Friday batting .589 on hard-hit balls -- the lowest mark in the Majors. The Major League average is .699.
The Rays had a .259 batting average on balls in play (Major League average was .294) -- that is, only 25.9 percent of balls they put in play had fallen for hits. That ranked as the second-lowest mark in the Major Leagues behind only Houston (.223), and no team has sustained a BABIP that low over a full season since the 1989 Orioles (.259).
"After that ball is missed by the defense, and when that ball falls and there's RBIs after your name, then all of a sudden you get kind of puffy in the chest and you feel better about yourself," said Maddon, expressing how quickly a slump can run its course. "That's just how this game plays."
The Rays have been shut out three times, which ties them with Seattle for most in the American League, and twice more they have been blanked through eight innings before scoring in the ninth.
• Starting center fielder Desmond Jennings was used at designated hitter during Thursday night's 10-2 loss, and although he did not start on Friday night due to soreness in his legs, he did enter as a pinch-hitter in the seventh inning and delivered a key two-out single that kept the inning alive for James Loney's go-ahead knock. Maddon wanted to give Jennings some time off Tropicana Field's artificial surface.
"He was a little bit sore yesterday," Maddon said on Friday. "He's still sore today. We just want to make sure that [the soreness] doesn't become a problem. ... It's pretty much going to be a day-by-day check."
• Right-hander Juan Carlos Oviedo pitched a scoreless seventh inning on Thursday night for Triple-A Durham against Norfolk, his sixth rehab outing for the Bulls. Over his last five outings, Oviedo has allowed one run on one hit while issuing no walks and striking out six in five innings. Maddon noted on Friday that Oviedo's fastball is looking "really good."
• With a record of four wins and no losses in one-run games this season, the Rays entered Friday's action as the only team in the Major Leagues to be unbeaten in one-run games. Those one-run wins account for the Rays' last four victories, including two 1-0 wins (April 8 at Kansas City and Saturday at Cincinnati).
Bill Chastain is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.