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Rays ready to try it again as baseball’s second half gets under way

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You know how some teams hate to see the season stop because things are going so well. This pitcher is hot; that hitter is on a streak?
Well, this isn’t like that.

You know how some teams can’t wait for the season’s second half of the season to start so they can take up where they left off? So they pack the house with fans eager to see their energy and their passion.

This isn’t like that, either.

Instead, the Tampa Bay Rays will try to cut into the 20-game lead that the Baltimore Orioles have established in the AL East. It is a deficit that has happened with frightening speed. The Rays were only 5 ½ games back on June 15 before losing 22 of 25 games.

— It is a Rays team that has struggled. For instance, catcher Curt Casali is hitting only .166 … but it was the other catcher, Hank Conger, who was sent down (he was hitting .194).

— Could the Rays have two 20-game losers? Pitcher Chris Archer is 4-12. Teammate Drew Smyly is 2-10.

— Center fielder Kevin Kiermaier will be welcomed back this year, even though he’s hitting only .236. Kiermaier has played in only 38 games. The Rays were 20-20 when Kiermaier was hurt.

— Right-handed pitchers have been winless for the Rays for a month. Matt Moore has two wins and Blake Snell one in the team’s recent slump.

— The team’s record is its worst since 2005 (28-61, .315)

— The Rays’ starting pitchers have an ERA of 5.99 during the slump. The bullpen has an ERA of 7.84.

— The hitters have a league-worst average of .239, league worst slugging percentage of .389 and a major league-worst on-base percentage of .286.

— The Rays welcome relief pitcher Kevin Jepson back after Minnesota released Jepson.

Archer starts for the Rays against Yovani Gallardo.

Gary Shelton is one of the most recognized and honored sportswriters in the history of the state. He has won the APSE's national columnist of the year twice and finished in the top 10 eight times. He was named the Florida Sportswriter of the Year six times. Gary joined SaintPetersBlog in the spring, helping to bring a sports presence to the website. Over his time in sports writing, Gary has covered 29 Super Bowls, 10 Olympics, Final Fours, Masters, Wimbledons and college national championships. He was there when the Bucs won a Super Bowl, when the Lightning won a Stanley Cup and when the Rays went to a World Series. He has seen Florida, FSU and Miami all win national championships, and he covered Bear Bryant, Bobby Bowden and Don Shula along the way. He and his wife Janet have four children: Eric, Kevin, K.C. and Tori. To contact, visit

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