Maddon bringing consistency to Rays' lineup

Maddon bringing consistency to Rays' lineup

HOUSTON -- For the second consecutive game, the Rays sent the same lineup to the plate against the Astros.

Beyond that, the Rays have shown a more consistent lineup through the past six games. Manager Joe Maddon has been known to switch the lineup around frequently, but with his team's offensive struggles of late, the change he's made is a lack of just that -- change.

"We have been offensively challenged at this point," Maddon said. "That's the primary shovel for the hole that we're in."

There are multiple reasons for the steady lineup from Maddon, but the primary one is because he thought the consistency would help his players. The other is the fact that the Rays have faced mostly right-handed pitchers.

"I was trying to establish some kind of continuity for their sake," Maddon said. "While we've been seeing the righties, I thought it would be wise to get them comfortable in some regard."

One of the Rays feeling more comfortable lately is Desmond Jennings, who has spent the last six games as the leadoff hitter.

While Jennings is hitting .243 on the season, he has seven hits in those six games batting leadoff, including two against Houston on Friday night that resulted in two runs scored.

"You get comfortable hitting in a spot," Jennings said. "I hit leadoff my whole life, I feel like. It's just a comfortable position, something I'm familiar with. It feels good to be in one spot, to hit in one spot instead of bouncing around."

Also breaking a streak was Ben Zobrist, who was on a stretch of going 0-for-26 with runners in scoring position headed into Friday night's game. It was the longest streak of any non-pitcher in baseball, according to Elias Sports Bureau. His two-run triple in the fifth inning snapped the streak, and gave the Rays a crucial 4-1 lead in their eventual 6-1 win.

Mike Vernon is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.