Tampa Bay Rays - TeamReport
MLB Team Report - Tampa Bay Rays - INSIDE PITCH
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- Seemingly every time the Tampa Bay Rays have set the kind of record they don't want this season, it's been a first since 2007, when they were the Devil Rays.
World Series. They haven't looked back since, posting a winning record in six straight seasons.
Until this year, that is. And on Sunday, they reached even further back into their Devil Rays days to describe their futility at home this season.
The Rays played their 81st and final home game of the year on Sunday and lost, 10-5, to the Chicago White Sox. They finished the year 36-45 at home, their worst home mark since 2003 (also 36-45) and tied for the fourth-worst home record in franchise history.
Tampa Bay has had a difficult time all season explaining its struggles at home, and Sunday was no different.
"No answers have come pouring out," starter Alex Cobb said.
"That's the part that is really hard to understand," Rays manager Joe Maddon said. "That's where the season literally went upside-down."
Maddon spitballed a number of theories after Sunday's loss, from the idea that opponents were more comfortable at Tropicana Field than they had been in the past to ideas about how their roster construction may have affected their production in their home ballpark.
The Rays own a .357 slugging percentage at home, a product of their 51 home runs, 125 doubles and six triples. They've slugged .381 on the road with 64 homers, 132 doubles and 16 triples.
The numbers make one thing clear: Tampa Bay has had a lot more trouble hitting for power at home. The Rays have hit for a higher average and on-base percentage, posted a better ERA (3.42 compared to 3.59 on the road) and scored slightly more runs per game at home this season. Yet they are 36-36 on the road.
"We've made hay at home in the past. That's how we became as good as we are. There is no explanation from me," Maddon said. "On the surface, we just play better on the road. We play better. We just did. Why? I have no idea."
MLB Team Report - Tampa Bay Rays - NOTES, QUOTES
STREAK: Lost one
NEXT: Rays (RHP Alex Cobb, 9-8, 2.82 ERA) at Red Sox (RHP Clay Buchholz, 8-9, 5.29 ERA)
--RHP Nathan Karns made his first career start at Tropicana Field in a 10-5 loss to the White Sox on Sunday afternoon, but he was unable to follow up on his dominant Rays debut Sept. 12. Karns allowed a career-high three home runs to the White Sox and allowed six runs on five hits and two walks while striking out five in five-plus innings. Karns has made a career-high 30 starts this season between Triple-A Durham and the Rays. In those 30 starts, he's given up one earned run or fewer 13 times and five earned runs or more 10 times.