ST. PETERSBURG — Alex Faedo had a happy homecoming, after all.
And the Rays had another disappointing night at the plate in a 3-2 loss to the Tigers.
Making just his third big-league start, the Alonso High and University of Florida product worked impressively into the sixth inning, leaving with a 2-1 lead.
There were a few twists to come.
The Rays tied the game in the eighth off reliever Michael Fulmer, Wander Franco delivering Brett Phillips — who had earlier homered off the C-ring catwalk as part of a three-hit night — on a sacrifice fly.
The Tigers went back ahead to stay in the ninth. Harold Castro homered with two outs in the ninth off Andrew Kittredge, the third go-ahead or game-tying homer he allowed in his last five outings.
By the end of the night, Rays manager Kevin Cash was calling out his hitters, who have scored three or fewer runs in six of their last eight games, to do more.
Acknowledging they were missing two big bats with Brandon Lowe and Manuel Margot hurt, Cash made clear that he expects better than what they’ve shown.
“We’ve got to do a little bit more offensively early in the ballgame,” Cash said. “We’re just not getting it done to the point that we’re capable of. I know we’re banged up, but we’ve still got plenty of guys that are more than capable of putting a little bit more pressure on pitchers, and we didn’t do that (Monday). … We’ve got good hitters, they’re just kind of on a team rut.”
On the other side of the Trop, Faedo was relishing his performance in front of 100-some friends and family, including his father, Landy, the longtime Alonso coach.
“It was a dream come true, for sure,” Alex Faedo said. “I’ve been to a ton of games here. That’s a really good ballclub over there. I felt like I could hear the support of the crowd, which was cool being on the road. Even though it’s home, too. Just a really special moment.”
Outside the clubhouse, Landy Faedo in his typically understated way said it was fun to watch as well.
“It was good sitting in the air conditioning and having a whole bunch of family and friends here to watch the game with, so it was a nice experience and exciting,” Landy Faedo said. “I think (Alex) did good. Typical him. Just threw a lot of strikes. Had a tough inning, and he was able to get out of it, which is nice.”
Faedo had a 1-2-3 first and got some help in the second when the Rays made two more outs on the bases.
The tough spot came in the third, when Faedo allowed a two-out single to Phillips and walked Yandy Diaz, bringing Franco to the plate. Faedo, the 18th overall pick of the 2017 draft who missed last season after undergoing Tommy John elbow surgery, won the battle, getting Franco to line out to right.
“He did a really nice job,” Cash said. “Good for him. Local guy. I’m sure he had a lot of family and friends (here), so it had to be a special moment for him. Mixed pitches well. He’s able to pitch with his off-speed stuff behind in the count.”
Added Rays catcher Mike Zunino, also a former Gator: “He threw the ball extremely well. Was able to locate the slider and expand with it. When you have a team that may be in the boat we’re in and guys are trying to feel their swings ... he did a great job of commanding that slider off the plate and continued to expand with it. You’ve just got to tip your cap.”
Tigers manager A.J. Hinch said before the game he saw no signs that Faedo, 26, was nervous, nor did he before the right-hander’s May 4 big-league debut. Faedo said the key was not getting caught up in the hype.
“I tried my best to keep it slow and take my time and not overdo anything,” he said. “I know a moment like that can definitely speed things up.”
The Rays got a good bounce-back start from Corey Kluber after his rough last outing, as his only mistake over six innings was the two-run homer he allowed to Jonathan Schoop in the fourth.
Kittredge, who has allowed four runs and eight hits over his last five outings, said he was frustrated but not worried about his performances.
“I think anybody would be lying to you if they said it didn’t test them a little bit,” he said. “But I still really like where I’m at with my stuff and my mentality, so I feel like I’m just going to get right back on (track).”
Cash made it sound like Kittredge was the least of his worries.
“He just left some balls in the middle of the plate,” Cash said, “but trust that he’ll be fine.”
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