A woeful offensive drought is chiefly responsible for the Tampa Bay Rays' worst losing streak in nearly five years. But they may be primed to break out against Henderson Alvarez.
Tampa Bay looks to draw on its past success against Alvarez in Tuesday night's meeting with the Miami Marlins.The American League-worst Rays (23-35) have dropped a season-worst seven straight following Monday's 3-1 loss at Marlins Park. They've totaled six runs and 26 hits over their last five games, with 37-year-old Randy Wolf limiting them to three hits in six innings Monday for his first win since Sept. 13, 2012.Tampa Bay, which scored its run on Desmond Jennings' fifth-inning double, is 5 for 41 with runners in scoring position during its skid, going hitless in five at-bats in those situations in the series opener. Team batting and RBI leader James Loney is 3 for 18 in all situations over his last five games with no runs driven in.The losing streak is the club's longest since the Rays dropped 11 in a row from Sept. 3-13, 2009. Another loss would also mark the 10th straight on the road, which would mark the team's longest since falling in 12 straight from July 30-Aug. 30, 2006."I still have a lot of faith in these guys," manager Joe Maddon said. "I'm not wavering on that whatsoever. It's just the particular moment we're in right now. We're going to turn this thing around."Facing Alvarez (2-3, 2.97 ERA) could help. The right-hander has lost all five career starts versus Tampa Bay while posting a 6.28 ERA and surrendering seven home runs over 28 2/3 innings.Jennings, Ben Zobrist, Matt Joyce and Evan Longoria are a combined 21 for 47 (.447) off Alvarez. Longoria has three homers while Jennings has two.Jennings is 9 for 15 over his last five games against Miami while Zobrist is batting .404 over his last 13 matchups with 13 runs scored and 11 driven in.Alvarez has thrown 12 scoreless innings over his last two outings, though he was limited to 62 pitches over five innings without a decision in Wednesday's 8-5 victory at Washington as he exited with elbow stiffness. Manager Mike Redmond told the team's official website Friday that Alvarez's elbow checked out OK when he was examined by a doctor.He owns a 1.85 ERA in five home starts.The Marlins (29-28) struck quickly to bounce back after being swept at home by Atlanta, scoring all three runs in the first inning Monday. Casey McGehee drove in two with a single and is 9 for 24 over his last six contests with six RBIs.Tampa Bay's Chris Archer (3-2, 4.00) was vulnerable in the first inning of his last start, yielding two runs in Wednesday's 3-2 loss at Toronto. However, the rest of his six innings were scoreless as he came away without a decision.Archer owns a 1.02 ERA over his last three outings while striking out 23 in 17 2/3 innings, though he's also issued 11 walks.The right-hander, who is 0-2 with a 3.68 ERA in three career interleague starts, has never faced Miami.Monday's victory marked just the second for Miami in its last 15 matchups with Tampa Bay.
Matt Joyce is hitting .319 against righties in at-bats ending on the outer half of the plate. Henderson Alvarez is allowing a .311 opponent batting average in at-bats ending on the outer half, 3rd-highest in MLB.
FROM ELIAS: Henderson Alvarez's 21 straight scoreless innings is tied for the 5th-longest streak in baseball this season.