The Tampa Bay Rays are coming off a very disappointing homestand. Their problems, however, extend back much further than that.
A nine-game trip provides the struggling Rays with a chance to make up ground in the wild-card race, and they hope to start Tuesday night against the Baltimore Orioles in the opener of a three-game series.
Since it was tied for first place in the AL East on June 11, Tampa Bay (49-47) has gone 14-22 to fall well off the pace in the division. With two wild cards, a third straight trip to the postseason remains well within their grasp, but the Rays will need to find a way to generate more offense.
Tampa Bay ranks near the bottom of the league in runs (396) and batting average (.232) and those deficiencies were evident on a recent homestand. Despite facing two of the AL's worst pitching staffs in Boston and Cleveland as well as last-place Seattle, the Rays averaged 3.3 runs and hit .234 while losing six of 10.
"The offense has been challenged lately,'' manag...