After an ugly road series that involved losses to the New York Yankees and the Baltimore Orioles, the Rays are heading back to Tampa with a sweep over the Toronto Blue Jays. In the 1st inning, Matt Joyce reached first on a bunt single and error by pitcher Henderson Alvarez; a relief to know that a no-hitter would not be an issue tonight. In the bottom of the 2nd, the Rays’ defense committed its first error of the game when Brett Lawre stole second. The ball thrown by Jose Molina did not reach Elliot Johnson in time, resulting in the ball landing in the centerfield and Lawre reaching third base. The error was charged to Molina. Luckily, David Price was able to get the next two batters out. In the 3rd inning, Ben Zobrist doubled and tried to score on BJ Upton’s single, but was thrown out at home by Rajai Davis. It was a beautiful throw.
In the bottom of the 2nd, Davis reached on an infield single, but managed to make his way to second due to a throwing error by Elliot Johnson. The Rays’ defense was starting to look like it had been this previous road trip: crappy. Davis then stole third and scored on Jose Bautista’s single. The next batter, Edwin Encarnacion, then hit a 2-run homer, making the score 3-0 in favor of the Jays.
In the bottom of the third, Davis hit an infield single that Elliot Johnson. Davis then stole third and Jose Bautista drives him. Edwin Encarnacion then hits a homerun; Jays now winning 3-0. The Rays scored a run in the 5th inning when Will Rhymes singled and then scored when Zobrist doubled. In the 7th inning, Sean Rodriquez hit a leadoff homerun to make it 2-3. Rhymes reached first on a single, as did Molina when Yunel Escobar committed an error. Elliot Johnson singled, allowing Rhymes to score when Davis committed an error. Johnson is currently on a 7-game hitting streak. Pitcher Alvarez (who just turned 22) threw a wild pitch, allowing the base runners to move to the next base. Zobrist once again reached base, loading the bases. BJ Upton hit into a double play, thus only Molina scored. Rays now led 4-3.
In the bottom of the ninth, with one out, Lawre was up to bat. After several balls thrown by Fernando Rodney, Lawre attempted to walk to first but was called back due to strike two. A few seconds later, Lawre tried walking again, but was called out on strike three. (In his defense, he should of walked, those looked like balls to me and they were out of the strike zone on Fox Tracks). Lawre was upset and threw his helmet down on the ground; the helmet bounced and hit the homeplate umpire – Lawre will be fined for that. Lawre and Jays’ manager John Farrell were later ejected after arguing with the umpires. Rays won the game 4-3.
What I Liked:
- David Price: Price only had one bad inning (which included pitching around an error), but he kept his cool after giving up a homerun and managed to pitch seven innings.
- Bullpen: Peralta hasn’t been too sharp lately, but today he managed to retire all three batters in the 8th inning. He did a great job getting the middle of the lineup out. Fernando Rodney once again retired all three batters (with some help from the ump). He now has 11 saves on the season.
- Rays Batters: Rays took advantage of the Jays’ four errors and scored four runs. Always a good sign when they score at least four runs, though the average number of runs scored in the AL East is five.
What I Didn’t like:
- There were two errors committed by the Rays, one became a run and made the inning last too long. Luckily, the Jays committed four errors, allowing the Rays to win.
- Red Sox played an early game today, meaning that they will get to Tampa and be able to sleep before the Rays do.
The Tampa Bay Rays dropped another game to the Baltimore Orioles tonight, though I am not surprised. When I first saw the line-up, I was disappointed that Carlos Pena and Matt Joyce were not playing tonight. I understand that Orioles’ pitcher Brian Matusz is a lefty and Pena and Joyce are also lefties, but seriously I’m tired of the Rays creating a whole new line-up for lefty pitchers. A few weeks ago Pena and Joyce both had several hits off a lefty pitcher, so it is possible for them to hit against lefties. And even if they do not hit, I would rather see Pena at first instead of Jeff Keppinger and Joyce in left instead of Brandon Guyer.
It was probably one of the worst Rays’ games I have seen in a while, worse than the other games this past week. In the 1st inning, Ben Zobrist got a lead-off walk, but Sean Rodriquez hit into a double play. BJ Upton singed and stole second, but his threat ended when Keppinger struck out to end the inning. In the 2nd inning, Guyer hit a homerun, making it Rays 1-0. In the bottom of the 2nd inning, Adam Jones was safe at first on an error by Rodriquez; Rodriquez threw the ball over Keppinger’s head (Pena would not have been able to catch that ball). Jones was then safe at second on a throwing error by pitcher Matt Moore, who threw the ball into right field into of 1st base. After walked Matt Wieters, Moore struck out the next two batters but allowed Steve Tolleson to double, scoring two runs (run #2 was scored on an error caused by Guyer; the ball managed to roll by him into the corner of left field). Baltimore now led the Rays 2-1, all of the Orioles’ runs being scored because of errors. The Rays ended up committing three errors in the 2nd inning; making it the first time the Rays have committed that many errors in an inning since becoming the Rays instead of the Devil Rays.
In the 3rd, Will Rhymes hit a leadoff double but the next three Rays failed to bring him in. This seemed to be the theme of the week, the Rays manage to get on base but fail to bring the base runners home. In the 5th, Elliot Johnson was called out after bunting off his foot… enough with the bunting. In the bottom of the 5th, what would have been an easy pop-up ended up as catcher’s interference (error #4), this makes Chris Gimenez’s third error of the year. Moore began to fall apart and loaded the bases; to the horror of Rays’ fans, Jones was up to bat. Jones managed to single to centerfield, scoring two runs. BJ Upton committed an error by dropping the ball but even if he did not make the error, there was no one covering second base, allowing Jones to run to second base. Wade Davis was called in and he managed to get the final two outs. Moore failed once again to last past the fifth inning.
In the 6th, the Rays managed to score two runs due to the teamwork of Keppinger, Guyer, Luke Scott, and Orioles’ third baseman Tolleson committing an error. The error allowed Keppinger and Guyer to move up one base, thus allowing them to score on Scott’s single. The Orioles now led by only one run. None of the teams put up threats in the next several innings, minus a home run by the Orioles; thus the Rays lost to the Orioles again.
Player of the Game:
- Part of the Rays’ Bullpen: Wade Davis came in the 5th inning with two on, one out. He walked one Oriole, but was able to get two outs without giving up a run. In the 7th, Davis got all three batters to ground out. If Moore does not improve by the All-Star break, I would not be surprised to see Davis as a starting pitcher again. In the 7th, Burke Badenhop walked one, struck out three to end the inning. Badenhop’s last pitch was just amazing. The Bullpen worked several innings and did not give up any runs. JP Howell pitched the 8th inning, striking out the first batter but gave up a homerun in the 8th inning to make it 5-3. The homerun really did not effect the outcome of the game.
What I Liked:
- Bullpen: Reasons listed earlier
What I Didn’t’ Like:
- Lack of Aggressive Swinging: The Rays swung at balls out of the strike zone, but did not swing at fastballs done the middle (Rhymes and Keppinger for example). In majority of the strike outs tonight, the Rays did not swing on strike three. Several times, the Rays were about to swing, but held back for some reason. I also don’t think it’s a bad thing for Rays to hit balls out of the strike zone; Orioles’ Robert Adino managed to hit a double off a ball that was out of the strike zone. Rays are going to have to start being aggressive at the plate if they want to make it to the World Series.
- Bunting: There were two bunting attempts today, which resulted in two outs. I had no problem with bunting until this year because the bunt seems to be used in the wrong situations. As Brian Anderson said, why would Rhymes bunt at a ball “up and off the plate?” I’m for Carlos Pena bunting against the shift and Desmond Jennings bunting and beating the throw to first, but lately the Rays have looked awkward at the bunt.
- The five errors committed in today’s game were just plain awful and resulting in the Orioles winning the game. Rays have been known for pitching and defense, but today the Rays did not have either.
- Matt Moore’s Short Outing: Moore has the talent and I know he will be a great pitcher, but at the moment he is having trouble getting strike three. He drives his pitch count up high in the beginning of the game, resulting in him getting pulled in the 5th inning several times this season. It is becoming a burden on the bullpen who is forced to work four-five innings whenever Moore pitches.
Predictions: Rays will get out of this slump, but to do that these things need to happen:
- Matt Moore needs to last more than 5 innings. As soon as he does, he will have the confidence to be the Moore of last year. His problem is getting the final third strike due to command issues. If he fails to fix his problem by the All-Star break, I wonder what if the Rays will make a roster move.
- Aggressive Hitting: Rays are going to have to score at least four runs every game if they want to remain competitive. Walking is great, but walking does not score runs, hitting does. Scoring three runs may beat the Seattle Mariners, but not the Orioles, Texas Rangers, New York Yankees, etc. Swinging at balls but not at strikes is baffling.
- Better Defense: The defense this season has just been awful. Tonight the Rays made five errors, that has not happened since 2001.
I believe the Rays are capable of winning without Evan Longoria; I mean they have done it before, they can do it again. Though I can’t wait to see Desmond Jennings and Longoria back.
J.P. Howell is a 28-year-old left-handed pitcher for the Tampa Bay Rays. Howell was traded by the Kansas City Royals to the Tampa Bay Devil Rays in June 2006. Howell made a few starts in 2006 due to starting pitcher Scott Kazmir spending time on the DL and a few starts in 2007 whenever a starter was hurt, but in 2008 he made the opening day roster in the bullpen. He became the first lefty to lead the majors in relief since 1997 and he ranked 9th among A.L. relievers with a 2.22 ERA. Howell did not allow a run in 11 outings in September; he was very vital to the Rays first playoff appearance that season. In 2009, Howell continued his success; 69 appearances, 7 wins, and 17 saves. He became the primary closer after Troy Percival was sent to the DL in May. Even though the 2009 season wasn’t that great (The Rays failed to make the playoffs), Howell was very dependable. So dependable that I stupidly said “I would trust him with my life.” A second later, he gave up a homerun on August 7th in Seattle. Howell was never the same and had a shoulder-injury, missing all of the 2010 season. Though I may have jinxed him, it is also possible that his arm/shoulder was blown due to overuse in the bullpen in 2009.
Howell returned on May 20th and threw a scoreless inning, but he was not the same. In fact, he seemed to give up a homerun whenever he pitched. It was just plain ugly and sad whenever he pitched. In 2012, Howell made his first appearance against the New York Yankees on opening day. He pitched in the 6th inning, getting the two Yankees to pop out. He made another appearance against the Detroit Tigers, relieving Jeff Niemann. Howell was able to get all three batters out, due to one runner stretching a single. In Howell’s last appearance, which was against the Red Sox, he relieved Badenhop and allowed two doubles, a single, and walk, allowing 2 runs; he managed to get the last two players out. Howell looks much better this year and hopefully will be the pitcher he was in 2008 & 2009.
When Rays DH Luke Scott was asked several days ago about Fenway Park, he said it was a dump to play at. In Game 2 against the Red Sox, Scott drove in 4 RBIs, showing that he indeed hates Fenway Park. But sadly, he was one of the few Rays to express his hatred for Fenway Park in this game. The Rays failed once again to beat their biggest rivals in baseball, giving the Red Sox their first two consecutive wins since August 27, 2011.
The Rays took an early lead in the first inning when Red Sox pitcher Clay Buchholz had trouble finding the strike zone. Desmond Jennings walked and scored when Carlos Pena doubled. Pena continues to be hot, hitting RBIs in nearly every game this year. After Buchholz got Evan Longoria and Matt Joyce to get out, Ben Zobrist walked to bring Luke Scott to the plate. Scott has been absent after having hamstring troubles, but he quickly showed what the Rays have been missing in the past few games by hitting a homerun. Rays were winning 4-0 after the 1st inning.
Trouble started in the bottom of the 2nd when Jeremy Hellickson managed to get the first two outs, but walked Ryan Sweeney then gave up a homerun to Jarrod Saltalamacchia. The score was now 4-2, in favor of the Rays. In the 3rd, Scott was back at the plate, hitting a double to score Joyce. This would be the last run scored for the Rays, who after getting an early lead, failed for the third time in three games to keep it. Dustin Pedroia hit a solo homerun in the third, making the score 5-3. In the fourth inning, Hellickson fell apart after giving up a single to Ortiz. Though bases were loaded, Hellcikson managed to prevent the Red Sox was scoring, but his pitch count increased drastically. In the fifth inning, Hellickson managed to get the first two batters out, but allowed Kevin Youkilis to single than gave up a homerun to David Ortiz. The game was now tied. Usually, the Rays begin to play baseball toward the end of the game, but for some unknown reason, they went down without a fight. Buchholz found the strike zone and was plowing the Rays down.
In the 7th inning, the Red Sox showed that the Rays’ bullpen is their biggest weakness at the moment. Mike Aviles hit a homerun off of Burke Badenhop. J.P. Howell was called in to limit the damage, but allowed Adrian Gonzales to double to center, walked Youkils, gave up a hit to Ortiz, and then gave up a double to Cody Ross; the Red Sox now lead 8-5. Meanwhile, the Rays seemed to raise the white flag AGAIN. They did not hit, walk, or work the pitch count. They looked awful at the plate. Now the 8th inning was up and it was déjà vu from Game 1 of the series. Dan De La Rosa, who was just called up today, was making his first appearance. Since this was his first game, I will not bad mouth him. But, let’s just say I was not too impressed by him. Darnell McDonal walked, Aviles doubled, Pedroia singled (because De La Rosa forgot to cover first base for Pena), Gonzales hit into a double play, Youkils walked, Ortiz doubled, and Ross homered. The score was now Red Sox 13, Rays 5.
Now for some fun facts
- The Red Sox have scored 13 runs in the 8th inning in the past two games.
- This was the first time since July 21-22, 2007 in which the
DevilRays allowed 12 or more runs in consecutive games. (I was not even in college yet)
- The Red Sox have scored 25 runs in the past two games.
- The Rays Starting pitchers have allowed 23 runs in 47 innings while the bull pen has allowed 28 runs in 20 innings.
- Third game in a row in which the Rays starting pitcher failed to make it to the 6th inning.
- The Rays have scored 15 runs in the past five games (2, 4, 2, 2, 5). How nice, the Rays have scored 2 runs or less in 37.5% of the games so far. Last year, it was 32%. This is not a good sign!!! The starting pitchers will get better because they usual do, the bull pen will get better because it usually does, but the batting has not changed in the past few years. How many times do I have to say “Get the Man In!?”
What I Liked:
- Luke Scott: Scott, who looks like Wolverine, showed up today. Scott decided it was unfair for the Rays to depend on Carlos Pena for all their hits, so he went 2-for-4 today. Scott had 4 RBIs, including a home run. If Scott did not show up today, the Rays would of scored only one run… (Ok, maybe I’m being harsh, but who knows; just glad Scott is back).
- Carlos Pena: Pena continues to hit, scoring 1 run today. He is batting .379 at the moment, which is way better than .190 in 2010. Maybe if I wear my Pena jersey tomorrow, he’ll hit another grand slam…
- Jacob Ellsbury: Ellsbury, who was injured yesterday, might be out for a few months. Though I don’t like it when players are hurt, Ellsbury purposely slid into Reid Brignac to break up the double play, so its his own fault.
- Kelly Shoppach: Shoppach wasn’t in the game today so I didn’t have to watch him play.
- Orioles: Yankees lost to the Angels today so the Orioles are now in first place in the A.L. East. Go Orioles!
What I Didn’t Like:
- Bullpen: The bullpen has made another negative appearance in my blog. As mentioned earlier, the bullpen has allowed 28 runs in 20 innings. Though this is due to the fact that the Rays starters have failed to pitch past the 5th inning, it does not help that the Red Sox have scored 13 runs in the 8th innings. The 8th inning is usually bullpen territory, so this is just not acceptable. My advice, James Shields, get ready to start throwing complete games again this year if you want a win. There will be more depth in the bull pen with Kyle Farnsworth returns, but what if he is not the same as last year? Fernando Rodney is the only pitcher that can be depended on, Wade Davis being second. On the plus side, Scott Lueke has been sent down to the minors.
- Starting Pitching: For the past three games, the Rays starters (Jeff Niemann, David Price, and Jeremy Hellickson) have started out well, but failed to find the strike zone after the second inning. Now I am super curious as to why this is. Jeff Niemann’s issue could be blamed on James Shields being put between Matt Moore and Niemann in order to duel against Justin Verlander; but this does not explain Price and Hellickson. Hellickson had a large pitch count from his previous outing, so maybe that is the reason. It’s just very disappointing to see how the best rotation in baseball is not living up to the expectations, especially since the Rays can’t hit a baseball. Matt Moore, it is up to you to save the series.
- Lack of Hitting: Once again, the Rays did not hit the ball. Yes, they scored 5 runs, but Luke Scott had 4 RBIs and Carlos Pena had 1 RBI. No one else is hitting the ball! Evan Longoria, who usually loves playing at Fenway, has been hitless this series. He usually bats around .270 against Boston, not .000. But, it is stupid to think that the three power hitters will win every single game. Ben Zobrist and Desmond Jennings have random hits, but where are the other hitters???
- Injuries: Jose Lobaton has been sent to the D.L., Chris Gimenez has been called up and will start as catcher on Sunday. Elliot Johnson, who may not be the best hitter but is a decent fielder, was injured trying to make a catch in left field. Not good, since Sam Fuld is going to be out for a while.
- Technical Difficulties: Game 162 wasn’t shown after the game due to technical difficulties, thus I am still upset over this series and writing angry blogs.
So what now? Matt Moore needs to last at least 7 innings tomorrow, allowing
the bullpen a smaller chance to ruin the game Fernando Rodney to pick up a save. Also, more batters need to participate in hitting and scoring runs.