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Speed merchants not getting on base

Speed merchants not getting on base

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SEATTLE -- An old baseball adage says "speed never goes into a slump."

In other words, if you have team speed, you can manufacture runs on any given night with that speed. Based on the validity of said adage, the Rays should not be in an offensive slump given the team's collective speed, only they are stuck in one.

Entering Wednesday night's game against the Mariners, the Rays had scored 42 runs (8.4 runs per game) in their five wins while they had scored just 22 (2.4) in their nine losses.

So why don't the Rays just amp up their speed game to snap out of the slump?

"You have to get on base for [speed] not to go into a slump," said B.J. Upton, stating the obvious about the philosophy that speed doesn't go into slumps. "But we're having good at-bats and getting good pitches to hit, taking our walks when we can. We're just not getting his right now. And that's just baseball. Something you have to battle through and stay within yourself. And tell yourself that at some point, it's going to change."

Carl Crawford said it's tough to force the action with speed if you're not getting on base.

"We're not getting on base," Crawford said. "So it's kind of hard to run if you're not getting on base. We have to start drawing walks. Just have to find a way to get on base whatever way that might be so we can use our speed game.

"Maybe we can bunt more or something, draw more walks. Do something to get on base. Hit the ball on the ground. We've been hitting a lot of popups. I know me personally, I'm going to try and hit the ball on the ground a little bit more."

Jason Bartlett said the Rays will always be able to run, but "you can't steal first."

"You've got to be able to get on base, drawing a walk, finding a hole, or just getting lucky," Bartlett said. "The fact is, we're not getting on base, and if you're not on base, you can't steal.

"People are saying we need to see more pitches, but when they're throwing balls right down the middle on the first couple of pitches, you're not going to take them and get 0-2. We're going to keep swinging and eventually we're going to find holes and get hot. We'll forget about this for a few months and then it will come back."

Bill Chastain is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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