ST. PETERSBURG -- After starting out 13-1 at home, Tropicana Field was quite sweet to the Rays.
Since then, Tampa Bay has gone 11-19, and "The Pit," as manager Joe Maddon often calls it, has been full of despair.
Most recently, the Rays dropped a 3-1 decision to the Red Sox on Friday and mustered up just six hits to bring the team's home average to .220 on the season entering Saturday, the second-worst mark in the Majors.
"We made a couple mistakes but played it hard," Maddon said. "We pitched actually really well. We just have got to take advantage of opportunities when they arise a little more consistently, but it's still all there to get back to that 13-1 type of situation."
Maddon remains optimistic that Tampa Bay can get back on track in home games with his current group and only expects to get better as more players come off the disabled list.
"We talked about getting off to a great start to remain solvent within this division, not realizing we'd have as many difficulties as we've had during this time," Maddon said. "I do anticipate getting back to that, where we had started. As we continue to get healthier, better, I believe it's gonna get back closer to that."
Still a half-game back of a Wild Card spot, the Rays are in the midst of their longest homestand of the season, a 10-game stretch against the Red Sox, Indians and Mariners.
Jennings moved down in order to find his stroke
ST. PETERSBURG -- Desmond Jennings has been struggling at the plate, so Rays manager Joe Maddon has moved him from the leadoff spot the past two games. Jennings hit eighth on Friday and seventh on Saturday against the Red Sox.
Maddon talked to Jennings and explained to him his rationale for moving him out of the top spot.
"My biggest thing with Desmond, I want him to understand I wanted to move him down just to take some pressure off him," Maddon said. "And also permit him to work on certain things that are going to get him back to being the premier leadoff hitter that he is.
"He had a tough month of June. I know he has a lot of high standards set for himself, a lot of expectations set for himself. I thought by moving him back by taking some of the pressure off him would give him some time to work, primarily on reorganizing his strike zone. Being a better decision maker at the plate -- that's the primary reason."
Jennings has hit in the leadoff spot in 52 of his 59 starts this season. He is batting .161 in his last 20 games in the leadoff spot.
Maddon was asked why hitting seventh enables Jennings to work on his hitting rather than simply having him take off a few days.
"Hitting leadoff, you're trying to stir the drink at that particular spot in the batting order," Maddon said. "In the seventh hole, you don't feel that same kind of pressure, for lack of a better word, setting the table for your two, three, four, five hitters. So by being to the bottom of the batting order, maybe feeling like you're having a little more freedom about what you're doing to do these different things."
Maddon added that Jennings has the ability to drive in runs, even when he's not going well.
"So there might be some guys on base that he could clean up there," Maddon said. "It's just a different mindset when you're hitting toward the bottom of the order. Again, I'm hoping he relaxes a little bit, does not apply so much pressure to himself to be the table-setter, and sees the ball better, maybe redefine the strike zone."
Entering Saturday, Jennings has hit .194 in 33 games since being activated from the disabled list on June 5. He was hitting .265 through May 14 before being sidelined 21 games with a left knee sprain.
Jennings' .307 on-base percentage while hitting in the leadoff spot ranks 33rd in the Majors; his .232 batting average ranks 39th.
Farnsworth settling in; injured Rays getting healthy
ST. PETERSBURG -- Reliever Kyle Farnsworth found himself picking up a loss after giving up three runs to the Yankees in his second appearance since coming off the disabled list, but after two more games, the righty is seemingly settling back in.
The 36-year-old pitched a scoreless eighth inning that saw him strike out two in a 3-1 loss to Boston on Friday.
Rays manager Joe Maddon said he believed the outing will help boost Farnsworth's confidence.
"It was sharp, he looked really good from the side," Maddon said. "I couldn't tell exactly the pitches from the side, but the reaction from the swing tells a lot, so I'd like to believe he can really build off of that."
Farnsworth started the season on the 60-day disabled list with a strained elbow, and outside of the game against New York, he hasn't allowed a run.
Outfielder Sam Fuld also joined Farnsworth on the disabled list to start the year because of right wrist surgery, but he is in the middle of a rehab assignment with Class A Charlotte. He will play seven innings in the outfield Saturday in his fifth and final game with the team that has seen him go 1-for-10 at the plate so far.
Fuld will then head to Triple-A Durham to continue his rehab Monday, when he will play another seven innings in the field.
"The biggest thing for us is that he doesn't feel his timing is very good at the plate yet," Maddon said. "But he's feeling physically really good, so that's going well."
Fellow outfielder Matt Joyce is set to make a rehab start Sunday for Charlotte at Daytona Beach and is scheduled to stay there until Tuesday, when he will be reevaluated. Maddon said he has the potential to return Wednesday or Thursday. He will play six innings in the field.
"It's always one day at a time," Maddon said. "Tomorrow will tell a lot and then how he reacts the next day."
Hideki Matsui has also been banged up as of late, nursing left hamstring tightness that has not required him to head to the DL. The 38-year-old has been available to pinch-hit, and Maddon said he is getting closer to being able to play defensively.
"The ball is really coming off his bat a lot hotter [in batting practice], which tells me that his bottom half is feeling better because he's really a bottom-half-oriented hitter," Maddon said.
Bill Chastain is a reporter for MLB.com. Greg Zeck is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.