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News » Tampa Bay Rays Inside Pitch 2009-09-07

Tampa Bay Rays Inside Pitch 2009-09-07

Tampa Bay Rays Inside Pitch 2009-09-07The Rays' bullpen picked a bad time to go into a big funk.

The struggles were magnified over the weekend, as the 'pen took the loss in all three games of the frustrating sweep by the Tigers.

It's been a group effort too, as manager Joe Maddon has resorted using a parade of four or five each night as he relies strictly on matchups. During the six-game homestand, he went to the pen 27 times.

For much of the season, the pen was a strength, and J.P. Howell was the star. But over the last 28 games, they have blown eight saves in 12 opportunities, and Howell has been brutal, with an 8.71 ERA (10 runs, eight hits, four homers, 10 walks) over his last 13 appearances.

Maddon has remained positive and understanding, saying the relievers need support as they go through some bad moments, and insisting they will rebound.

"I think it's just a lack of belief," Howell said. "We have the confidence, we've just got to believe."

"Frustrating," Grant Balfour said. "Very frustrating."

Worse, they're all having problems.

"You're struggling a little bit and it just becomes contagious," pitching coach Jim Hickey said. "And you start to look around a little bit and kind of wonder, 'Am I next?"'

TIGERS 5, RAYS 3: Rookie RHP Wade Davis made a dazzling debut, but the bullpen let him down and knocked the Rays down another game in the AL wild-card race with another abysmal showing. Trying to protect a 3-1 lead, the Rays loaded the bases and Brandon Inge hit a grand slam.

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Author:Fox Sports
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Added: September 7, 2009

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