Apparently, the Red Sox have been waiting for the Rays for the past few months. Today was the Red Sox Home Opener and the Red Sox showed their fans why they shouldn’t push the panic button yet. Josh Beckett, the starting pitcher, was booed by the fans; I doubt they’ll be booing him the next time he pitches. This had to be the worst game for the Rays ever (maybe not, but for me, it hurt).
The Rays proved once again that there are just some games in which they just can’t hit the ball. Ben Zobrist singled then scored when Jeff Keppinger doubled, taking an early lead in the 2nd inning. This would be the only run the Rays would score in the whole game.
Beginning in the 3rd Inning, the Rays began to fall apart. Kelly Shoppach, former Ray, purposely leaned in and got hit by David Price (Another reason why I hate Shoppach). After that, Price never found the strike zone. Suddenly, the Red Sox came to life and started hitting – by the end of the 3rd, the Red Sox scored 3 runs. The Rays still had a chance to win the game, even when Burke Badenhop gave up a run in the 4th, leading to the Red Sox 4-1 lead. But the Rays never hit the ball. Every year it is the same thing, the Rays can’t hit. The batting averages are one of the lowest in baseball and the games the Rays have lost, it is usually because the Rays scored one or less runs (ask David Price, he did not receive much run support last year). The bottom of the line-up is a guaranteed three outs. Nothing has changed in the past several years. Yes, I understand the Rays are known for their pitching and defense, not for power hitting; but seriously, how many games this year are the Rays going to score 2 or less runs? How many no-hitter games are going to be the highlight reel at night? When is the organization going to address this problem? In 2011, the Rays were shut out 15 times, tying with the Oakland A’s for 2nd in the A.L.; they were only behind the Seattle Mariners. The Rays were held to 2-runs or less 52 times in 2011, meaning the Rays scored 2 or less runs in 32% of the games they played last year.
So with no run support for the second game in a row, the Rays bullpen was called upon. Though Badenhop gave up one run, Wade Davis did not. Davis had his best outing of the season, cruising through the Red Sox line-up. Davis kept the game 4-1 for the Rays, but the bats remained silent. The only hightlight of the game was when Jason Ellsbury attempted to break up a double play, but instead Reid Brignac fell on him, injuring Ellsbury.
O, the other highlight of the game was when Kelly Shoppach stole a base – he slid several feet before the second base and ended up on his face. Find it online if you need a laugh. The sad thing is that Shoppach, who was 100% useless with the Rays for two-years, was the big hero today. He scored runs, hit doubles, actually played as a catcher today. Seriously, where the heck was that when he was with the Rays? Ugh, I just hate him.
Anyways, so the game got super ugly in the 8th inning when Joel Peralta was sent in to pitch. Instead, he failed to find the strike zone. Suddenly, all the anger of the Red Sox players of how Red Sox nation collapsed last year was released. Every single player got to base; there was a wild pitch and several walks given up by Peralta. The Red Sox were smiling for the first time since August 2011. Josh Lueke, who I do not like because of his past history, was sent in to end the inning. Instead, it went on until the Red Sox were winning 12-1. The last time Rays gave up 12 runs to Boston was on 9/6/2010. O, Ben Zobrist, one of the very few players who decided to show up today, hit a homerun in the 9th, making it 12-2.
What I Like:
- Shoppach falling on his face after his stolen base
- Ben Zobrist scoring two runs today; Zobrist has to be one of the most dependable guys. He may not be a power hitter like Carlos Pena and Evan Longoria, but he still gets a goo number of hits every year.
- Wade Davis: Davis has being pitching about average so far this season but he was on fire in this game. It was 1-2-3 out nearly every inning he pitched.
What I Didn’t Like:
- Kelly Shoppach: The former Ray decided to play baseball after two years of not participating in the game. He reached base four times, with three hits and one walk. He purposely got hit, which just ruined everything (David Price just said he leaned in on the post-game interview so I’m not crazy). According to Tampa Bay Times on Twitter, Shoppach had two 3-hit games and no 3-run games with the Rays. Today, he had 3 hits and scored 3 runs against him. I should of booed him harder last year.
- Losing to the Red Sox: The Rays always beat the Red Sox, a team filled with chicken-loving, beer-drinking players. Hopefully, the Rays win the rest of the Series so I can go back to making fun of them.
- Rays not hitting…again.
Anyways, Rays should rebound from this and go off to the playoffs so really there isn’t too much concern. But, if the Rays want to win the World Series, they need to start hitting the ball. The Yankees, Tigers, Rangers, Angels, Phillies, and Cardinals are all known for hitting so there is no way the Rays can win games against these playoff teams by scoring 2 runs or less. Its crazy to think that all the pitchers should not give up a single run every game.
O, Alex Rodriquez is now tied with Ken Griffey Jr. with homeruns. But, I don’t care because A-Roid is a cheater and probably has no testicles because of all the years he abused steroids.
Due to the past weekend being dedicated to my birthday celebration and a Bridal Shower, I have missed the past few Rays games; but, I have heard nothing about sorrow about the Rays. Today, I was hoping the Rays would win the game due to the win yesterday; but, after seeing Kelly Shoppach and Felipe Lopez were in the line-up, I was becoming a doubter. But in the 2nd inning, Shoppach doubled, which led to a run. In the 3rd inning, B.J. Upton and Lopez both drove in runs. In other words, even the worst Rays batters were batting.
Then it got scary in the bottom of the 3rd when the Seattle Mariners were up to bat. Wade Davis began the inning by walking the lead off batter Carlos Peguero, then allowed a single, triple, sac-bunt, and a single. At the end of the 3rd inning, the Mariners had tied the inning up. Through the next several innings, both pitchers managed to prevent base runners until the top of the 7th inning. Davis walked the lead-off hitter then allowed a single by Peguero. I was hoping Davis would be taken out to prevent another inning in which he blew the lead, but Davis stayed in. He kept throwing balls and looked awful and allowed the Mariners to take the lead at 5-3.
Things were looking bleak for the Rays but luckily Damon, Zobrist, and Joyce helped the Rays tie the game. With 2 out, Evan Longoria was called in to pinch-hit. Longo had been out due to soreness, but is expected to play tomorrow against Anaheim Angels. Longo singled, allowing the Rays to take the lead at 6-5.
Now there was only 6 outs left before the Rays could get the win, but J.P. Howell was up. Recently, Howell blew a Rays’ lead, so I was once again worried. Howell was injured at the end of 2009 and has recently returned to the Rays, but he has not been dominant. IF I was Maddon, I would only put Howell in if 1) the Rays were up by 5 runs so in case Howell messed up, they would still win or 2) if Howell was to come out to get the final out in the 7th/8th with no runners on. Thus, if Howell succeeds, it will bring his confidence up; but if Howell failed, it would not cost the Rays game. At the moment, Howell has shown no reason to be the pitcher for the 8th inning in a close game. Today, Howell showed he should not be the pitcher in the 8th inning.
Howell was able to get the first out, but he walked and allowed a single. With 2 on and 1 out, Maddon should have taken Howell out (this is not hindsight, I was shouting at my TV for Maddon to take Howell out), but he left Howell in, even though he was having trouble finding the strike zone. Howell allows a single and leaves with the Rays tied at 6-6.
Then Maddon made one of the worst calls ever (maybe not ever, but it was super bad). Last night, Rays pitcher Joel Peralta replaced Jeremy Hellickson in the 8th inning (Rays were winning 3-0 at this time). Peralta allowed pinch-hitter Miguel Olivo to hit a 2-run homerun, cutting the Rays’ lead to 3-2. TODAY, Maddon replaced Howell with Peralta with Olivo batting! It was déjà vu – Olivo hit a 3-run homerun and the Mariners won a few minutes later.
Maddon is supposed to be a stat-coach, yet he didn’t realize that Peralta allowed a home run by Olivo yesterday? Maddon didn’t realize that Howell allowed 4 runs (3 unearned) and retired 0 batters in the 8th inning against the Cleveland Indians about a week ago? I appreciate all that Howell did in 2009 with the Rays, but he does not deserved to pitch in a stressful situtation. Howell needs to build his confidence up again before he (if he can) return to his old form.
Though the Rays’ offense was great, Rays’ pitching was horrible and mismanaged. With the Rays now tied with the Toronto Blue Jays with being 4 games out of 1st in the A.L East, they better start winning games and series again soon before they fall too far behind.
Rays need a catcher – they needed one last year. Watching today’s game (Rays lost to the Rangers 3-0) reminded me of that. The Rangers did a double steal, and Jaso seemed to admire it. In fact, the Rangers were running all over the Rays this past series; they looked more like the Rays than the Rays did. The Rangers realized that they did not have to worry about being caught stealing since the Rangers’ catchers can’t throw a runner out. There is a better chance for the catcher to throw the ball over the 2nd baseman’s head to B.J. Upton in center field than to catch a player stealing second.
Though I do like John Jaso, he was a break out star last year (hitting .263, one of the highest on the team lat year), his catching isn’t perfect. At first, I just thought he just needed experience, guidance, a veteran catcher’s presence , someone to study… but, his defense has remained the same in the past year. At the moment, Jaso has committed one error and has allowed 3 passed balls. He seems to not even bother with catching players stealing.
Kelly Shoppach came from Cleveland and for some unknown reason, the Rays signed him for 2 years for 6 million. This means that only Johnny Damon, Upton, Ben Zobrist, and James Shields are making more than him. This means that Shoppach, with his .152 batting average, is making more than Eva longoria, David Price, and Matt Joyce. Shoppach was at his best in 2008, batting .261 with 55 RBIs, but in 2009, it was .214 with 40 RBIs. The next year, he was with the Rays. I don’t know why Rays signed him to an expensive contract after he was coming off a bad year. He has only continued to struggle; in 2010, he batted .198 with 17 RBIs. Currently, his batting average is .152 with 7 RBIs. In Tuesday’s game in the 2nd inning, Rangers Pitcher C.J. Wilson loaded the bases. With one out, it seemed as though the Rays had a chance to win. But Shoppach came up and even though Wilson was looking horrible (he walked 3 batters, 1 intentionally, that inning). Shoppach swung at each pitch and managed to hit into a double play. Though the Rays somehow managed to win that game, Shoppach’s eagerness was too desperate; he was swinging at everything. Also, he fails at guarding home plate. The other night he practically let the Rangers score, he was about 5 feet in front of the plate. Ugh!
The two of them are the 2nd worst offensive catching duo, batting an average of .196 and throwing out less than 24% of potential base stealers.
Dioner Navarro, Rays’ former catcher, had to be better, defensively, than these two. I know for a fact that Navarro was better offensively than Kelly Shoppach. In 2008, Navarro was batting .296 with 54 RBIs, but in 2009, his batting average dropped to .218 and he only drove in 32 runs batted in. His low batting average is the reason why he lost playing time due to Jaso and Shoppach. Navarro ended up in the minors, but is currently playing for the Dodgers for 1 million this year. Though his batting average was low, Shoppach’s has remained lower.
Now to move on to Rays fans’ popular questions:
1) With the All-Star Break being next month, will the Rays look for a catcher?
Doubt it, the Rays already have two catching prospects. In the Durham Bulls (Rays’ minor league team), there is Robinson Chirinos and Jose Lobaton. Chirinos came from the Chicago White Sox in the Matt Garza/Fernando Perez trade. In 2010, Chirinos batted .362; currently it is .254. Then there is, Lobaton who is batting .317 and has an OBP of .415. He has stolen base 16 times (caught 8 times) and bats both sides, meaning he can bat against right and LEFT handed pitchers.
2) So if we have catchers in the minors, why isn’t he playing with the Rays?
Joe Maddon is known to being loyal to the Rays players. I mean, why else was Rocco Baldelli on the playoff roster in 2010 after playing in a small number of games throughout the year? Also, remember when Gabe Kapler played in right field even though his batting average was in the .100s? Maddon used to be a catcher, meaning he may feel a connection with Shoppach. Then there’s the fact that if the Shoppach kick him off the team, they still have to pay him his salary. *Totally unfair*
3) Can the Rays trade Shoppach?
Uh, sure, but who would want him? Any baseball organization watching the 2010 playoffs would have seen Shoppach throwing the ball over Longoria’s head in a catching-stealing attempt. This costly error resulted in the Rays losing to the Rangers and dropping out of the playoffs.
4) Is there any hope for the Rays this year?
Of course; though the Rays are going through a slump, they are only 2.5 games behind the New York Yankees and .5 games behind the Boston Red Sox. But, the Rays need to address their catching problems. Jaso needs to relearn everything about being a catcher. He has let too many players steal bases and has let too many balls pass him by. Also, the Rays need to get RID of Shoppach. He is only hurting the Rays. Pay him the rest of his salary and bring up Lobaton. Nothing could be worse than him. Nothing.Follow @tbchick2011
I am starting to wish that the Rays baseball game was postponed due to rain so the Rays would in first place alone. Anyways, the Rays’ offense was just horrible AGAIN!!! Detroit’s record
is was 23-23, so they are only a decent team, yet the Rays found a way to lose to them 6-3.
How can Maddon not play Joyce???
So I saw the line-up and noticed that A.L. leading batter Matt Joyce was not in the line-up due to a lefty pitching. Joyce is hitting .385 against right-handed pitchers, but only .158 against left-handed pitchers. Meanwhile, Felipe Lopez is hitting .240 against left-handed pitchers. When Lopez was subbing for Longoria, he did not bat well or play defense well. I understand that Joyce isn’t super amazing against left-handed pitchers, but that is because Maddon gets the Rays players all freaked out against lefties. Instead of keeping the same players in, like most teams, he rearranges the line-up and moves players around. It is common knowledge that the Rays can’t bat against lefties; in my opinion it is because they are told they can’t. Rays coaches need to stop making a big deal about going against a lefty and let players build up their averages against lefties.
In the 4th inning, the Rays had bases loaded, 1 out but could not bring them in- thanks to Shoppach and Lopez striking out. Who knows what could have happened if the Rays blew that came out of proportion.
In the 6th inning, Detroit was batting with 2 outs and one on second. Cabrera singled to right and Joyce made this amazing throw to home plate, but for some reason Shoppach was several feet in front of the plate. By the time he made it back to home, Boesch already scored. Seriously, Shoppach is the only catcher in MLB that does not try to block the runner. If Shoppach just stood on the line between third and home, the runner would have been forced to make a turn and Shoppach could have tagged him. Even if Shoppach didn’t get an out, at least he would have looked like he was doing his job.
So the Rays kept the game 2-1 (Detroit had 2) until the bottom of the 8th. J.P. Howell gave up a walk and a hit, but struck one out. Of course as soon as the pitcher gets an out, Maddon calls him back in. Howell was replaced by Cruz, who ended up throwing a wild pitch, walking Cabrera, and allowing Martinez to double, scoring 2 runs. Then Dirks was intentionally walked, so of course Peralta singles, scoring 2 runs. Cruz was replaced by Ramos to get the final out.
Pitcher Helickson: though he has good stuff, he uses a large number of pitches to get batters out.
Bullpen: failed to keep the game close today
B.J Upton: scored the only run in the game due to a sac-fly by Longo. Though he struck out, as usual, he made an amazing double play in the 5th inning. He managed to walk in the ninth.
Damon: Had 2 hits today against his former team. Had a lead-off double at one point, but Rays failed to bring him in.
Longoria: hit a sac-fly to drive in a run, but he still isn’t coming up with important bats. He’s batting .221 now.
Zobrist: had 1 hit, but didn’t do too much today.
Rodriquez: walked in the 4th.
Lopez: Don’t know why he played today. He’s only hitting .213. He played first base, though we do have Kitchman who is batting .3498.
*Kotchman: only had 1-at-bat, don’t know why he wasn’t playing.
Shoppach: struck out in the 4th when it mattered most. Only got on when he was hit by a pitch. He’s only batting .222 against lefties and .118 against righties.
*Jaso: walked and scored a run in the ninth. He’s batting .375 against lefties and .195 against righties. I don’t know why he wasn’t starting today since his stats are better than Shoppach’s.
*Joyce: Singled and scored a run in the ninth.
Fuld: singled to right and scored two runs in the ninth.
*players that pinch-hitted
Also, Brignac’s grandfather died so keep him and his family in your prayers.
Boston Red Sox was leading Cleveland Indians, 2-1, but allowed 2 runs in the bottom of the 8th. In the top of the 9th, Red Sox had Drew on third and Lowrie on first with one out, but former Ray, Crawford, hit into a double play. Crawford is still making big plays for the Rays.
Today began Interleague Play. I personally hate interleague play because certain A.L. teams get to play easy N.L. teams (Boston Red Sox vs. Chicago Cubs) and A.L. pitchers can’t hit so the line-up gets switched around. Today, the Tampa Bay Rays played the Florida Marlins in the Citrus Series. After arriving in Miami at about 5 a.m. in the morning, the Rays were expected to win in order to keep their lead in the A.L. East; but, they didn’t.
Jaso: Why is Jaso batting in the lead-off spot? Jaso is only batting .221 and has been a disappointment so far this season. Though I am thankful for him scoring a run in this game, I just don’t think he should be batting first. Zobrist has some how reached first base in (I believe) the last 26 games.
Shoppach: Shoppach replaced Jaso toward the end of the game. I don’t know why, he’s only batting .164. Since the game was tied, the Rays needed offense, not a defensive move to protect their lead. Shoppach ended up striking out (surprise!); Jaso should have stayed in the game and bunted Rodriquez over to third in the 8th inning.
Zobrist: Zobrist made an error today playing 2nd base. Luckily it did not lead to a run.
Damon: Played left field since he could not DH. In the first, he missed a catch that I believe Fuld could have made. But, it’s not his fault he hasn’t played outfield since Spring Training.
Longoria: Longo is batting .221. Maybe him being in all these commercials is going to his head because he has not played Hall-of-Famer baseball in a while. He seems to be jumping at bad pitches, ending in pop-ups.
Joyce: Joyce is the only Ray doing anything in every game in the past week. He had two triples today, scored a run, and is batting .358.
Upton: Upton left early because his ass was hurting.
Ruggiano: Ruggiano arrived from the minors today. He drew a walk today, but no hits.
Kotchman: Kotchman had 2 hits today and is batting .340, which explains why Dan Johnson was sent down to the minors.
Johnson: Played shortstop today.
S-Rod: replaced the pitcher in batting and hit a double, though the Rays failed to get him in. Glad to see him hitting and being a useful utility player.
Sonnanstine: Though he only gave up 3 runs, which isn’t bad, I’m always nervous when he plays. Sonnanstine has just not shown amazing pitches at all this year. Niemann has not even begun to throw in rehab so I don’t know how long the Rays can go with Sonnanstine pitching. Maybe call up Alex Torres?
Howell: Howell was back in the majors for the first time since 2009. He had to pitch around an error by Zobrist, but was able to get 3 outs. He has alot of hair on his head and face.
Gomes: Gomes got 2 easy outs before Maddon got all fancy and replaced him with Peralta. Peralta purposely walked someone to get to Coghlan (because the Marlins’ Coghlan is hitting .187 against lefties). Maddon taking out pitchers, who are pitching well, to match-up other pitchers with batters just annoys the hell out of me. Peralta pitching had me on the edge of my seat b/c he almost walked Coghlan.
So the Rays lost 5-3 to the Marlins. I think putting in Shoppach and expecting him to hit was a big mistake. I’m also curious as to why all the Rays’ bats (except Joyce’s) have gone cold. They look like they did last year, which is missing the fast-balls-down-the-middle while swinging at balls. Its 1-2-3 STRIKEOUT! They also FAIL at hitting sac flys. All they do it hit pop-ups. Is Maddon telling them to watch the pitches like he did last year? I know Damon told the Rays earlier this season to be more aggressive. They just seem to eager and swing at everything.
According to the Rays website, there are 5 players listed under catchers but there are only 2 spots for catcher. Nevin Ashley & Jose Lobaton are minor league catchers who catch during the spring training; the Real Battle is between John Jaso & Kelly Shoppach & Robinson Chirinos.