4/30/2014 8:34 P.M. ET
Still in hunt, Rays eager to move past April
By Bill Chastain / MLB.com
BOSTON -- With Wednesday night's Rays-Red Sox game rained out, the Rays wrapped up April with 16 losses, tying 2005 for the third most in team history behind '01 (8-18) and '03 (9-17). The loss total was the team's highest in any month since September 2009.
"No, [April] could have been better, there's no question, but then again it is April," Rays manager Joe Maddon said. "So you have plenty of time to make it up. And we shall. I have all the confidence in the world in this group. We've had some unfortunate moments this month. But it's going to be fine."
Maddon noted that the American League East was "kind of bunched up."
"Nobody's really broken away," Maddon said, "so from that perspective we got kind of lucky. .... You look out at the board [at Fenway Park] in left field [where the standings are shown], there's not a huge separation going on. Beyond that, having played everybody in our division already, it is pretty close. I don't see one overwhelming team right now. So I think we're going to kind of beat each other up all season."
The Rays have lost three straight games (outscored, 23-9) and six of seven. They allowed 47 runs in the six losses, including six or more in each, to tie the most allowed by the Rays in a seven-game span in the past three seasons. The only victory during that span came via a 4-0 decision over the White Sox on Saturday. Their 4.51 ERA is their highest April ERA since 2007 (6.01).
"We have not pitched up to our normal standards where we're at pitching-wise," Maddon said. "That's the primary reason why we're in that situation we're in right now. But we will."
Maddon pleased with Joyce in platoon role
BOSTON -- Matt Joyce is hitting .328 with two home runs and 15 RBIs. On top of that, he ranks third in the American League with a .438 on-base percentage.
Rays hitting coach Derek Shelton noted that Joyce had not experienced a change in his approach.
"I think if you look back, he's always been a guy who gets on base," Shelton said. "A guy who commands the strike zone and a guy that walks. I think he's at an elevated level because it's a small sample, and he's doing it really well right now."
Joyce agreed with Shelton but said hitting the opposite way also had "a lot to do with it."
"But, I think for me personally, I've tried to have a discerning eye and be a selective hitter and get pitches I can hit and handle and drive in certain counts," said Joyce, who allowed that being in the lineup also helped.
Rays manager Joe Maddon was asked how long a platoon player like Joyce had to maintain his hitting to become an everyday player. He has hit against mostly right-handers during his tenure with the Rays.
"How do you know if you play him every day that would not go away?" Maddon said. "That's always my concern with a guy that you're playing in that role.
"We've gone down that path with him in the past, where all of a sudden you want to start playing him more against lefties and all of a sudden all these wonderful things start getting chipped into because a lefty can injure his confidence, can affect his swing, his timing, can affect a lot of different things. So for right now I'm pretty pleased with what he's doing and how he's doing it."
Hanigan reaches a Rays record for April RBIs
BOSTON -- Rays catcher Ryan Hanigan recorded his 15th RBI on Tuesday night, tying John Flaherty (1999) for the most by a Rays catcher in April.
Only in one other month has a Rays catcher had more RBIs: Flaherty with 17 in May 1999.
Among Major League catchers in 2014, Hanigan trails only Minnesota's Kurt Suzuki (19), and he is tied with Baltimore's Matt Wieters.
In addition, Hanigan has a team-high 10 RBIs with two outs. Rays catchers managed just 19 two-out RBIs for the entire 2013 season. Hanigan's three home runs tie him for the team lead with Evan Longoria, Sean Rodriguez and Ben Zobrist. The three home runs also eclipsed his totals from both 2012 and '13, when he hit two.
On defense, Hanigan has thrown out four of 10 attempted base-stealers. That 40 percent eraser rate ranks first in the Major Leagues, just ahead of former Ray Robinson Chirinos of Texas and Yadier Molina of St. Louis (both are five of 13, 38.4 percent).
Bill Chastain is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.