Maddon: Rays' defense has to get better

Maddon: Rays' defense has to get better

CLEVELAND -- Heading into Saturday night's contest against the Indians, the Rays had committed 68 errors, which ranked them second worst in the Major Leagues, behind the Orioles (74).

"Defensively, we have made some gaffes," Rays manager Joe Maddon said. Will Rhymes committed the latest error when he dropped a pop fly in Friday night's game. Maddon explained how the fielding problems can take a toll on the pitching staff.

"Even last night we missed a popup and that leads to more pitches," Maddon said. "Those are the little things that you don't even understand."

Maddon created a hypothetical situation.

"You drop a popup," Maddon said. "Just say the next guy up hits a home run. All of a sudden the pitcher feels like he had a bad outing. All of a sudden you have to get somebody [warmed up in the bullpen] you don't want to. Then all of a sudden there's more of a strain on the pitchers in the latter part of the game. All of these things they happen with a routine play that has to be made. That's one thing we have to get better at, the routine play. ... We have to get better at routine."

Maddon believes his team will get better at making the routine play.

"And when we do get better, which we will, then the pitch count comes down," Maddon said. "There's less stress on the pitcher not having to work so hard for his outs. He's pitching deeper into the game, [less stress on] the bullpen, blah, blah, blah, so all of those things are connected.

"We've been very fortunate that we've played well on defense the last couple of years. That has allowed all this pitching stuff to work better. And I believe that we can again. We just have to be proactive in regard to making our defense better than we are right now."