BALTIMORE -- The Rays have been a little bit off the last several games doing the little things necessary to win. Rays manager Joe Maddon pointed out as much after Friday night's 4-3 loss to the Orioles when he basically said everybody needed to do better from the manager to the coaches and players.
Saturday night it seemed to get worse for the Rays when they tied a franchise record by committing five errors in their 5-3 loss to the Orioles. Three of those errors came in the second inning alone.
"We're not executing well," Maddon said. "We're talking about it daily, I promise."
Carlos Pena acknowledged that the Rays indeed have had a bad week for executing the extra things that sometimes spell the difference between winning and losing.
"There have been a couple of things we've messed up here and there," Pena said. "But you also understand, a 162-game season, we know those things are going to happen. And we know those are going to happen for other teams, too, because that's the nature of baseball. That's the way it goes. But, we want to make sure that we do that the least that we can. And I think we do a pretty good job of that. I think we're good at what we do."
James Shields said "everyone needs to step their game up."
"I don't think we're playing flawless baseball right now," Shields said. "Teams are going to go through that. All the good ones get out of it quick.
"As a starter, we have to go out and do our job. Get a little win streak going. That will kind of change things a little bit. We definitely need to clean our game up a little bit -- especially on the road. Obviously, our record is pretty good. We're definitely satisfied with where we're at right now. But we definitely have room for improvement."
That improvement did not come Saturday when the team had trouble executing on defense.
Maddon weighs in on Wilson's starts
BALTIMORE -- C.J. Wilson started for the Angels Friday night against his former teammates, the Rangers, but after a one-hour, 56-minute rain delay -- and just five batters -- Wilson was lifted.
But not to waste the talents of one of the American League's top lefties, Wilson started again on Saturday afternoon. He threw 22 pitches Friday night and took the loss. Saturday he threw 5 2/3 innings and picked up the win, throwing 93 pitches.
Rays manager Joe Maddon called it "a tough one" when pondering whether the Rays would ever pull a Wilson-like move with one of their starters. Ultimately, Maddon concluded: "I would bet no."
The Rays manager did note that James Shields would be the prime candidate if such a move were ever allowed by the Rays.
Shields smiled when asked about doing what Wilson did.
"I don't see why pitchers can't do that," Shields said.
He was asked what the reaction would be by the Rays' front office in the event of such an occurrence.
"It probably wouldn't go so well," Shields said. "Not up in the front office. There's no need to give Andrew [Friedman, executive vice president of baseball operations] a heart attack. I'm definitely capable of doing it."
Major League teams are particularly cautious about how they handle their starting pitching. Rays starter Jeff Niemann said he wouldn't mind them not being so cautions at times.
"But it's always tough to make decisions like that because if you do get hurt or something goes wrong, then it's really easy to question, why didn't we stick to the routine or plan," Niemann said. "But sometimes you feel like you can pitch on a day's rest."
Niemann referred to his college days when pitching for Rice.
"That was part of the deal," Niemann said. "You started on Friday. You threw out of the bullpen on Sunday. You start on Tuesday. It was just win the game, do what you need to do."
Niemann conceded that some over-thinking goes into the handling of starting pitchers at times.
"But it's been played like this for a while," Niemann said. "There's a reason we're starters and there's bullpen guys. We're all highly trained for the roles we're in. There are reasons for it. There are arguments for it both ways I think."
Bill Chastain is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.