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.
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.
Wade Davis is a twenty-six year-old right-handed pitcher for the Tampa Bay Rays. Davis was born in Lake Wales, Florida and was drafted by the Rays in 2004. Davis made his major league debut on September 6, 2009 against the Detroit Tigers. In 2010, Davis became a starting pitcher for the Rays. His awards include A.L. Rookie of the Month for July due to his 3.03 ERA over five starts. Davis was also chosen as the team’s Outstanding Rookie by the Tampa Bay Chapter of the Baseball Writers’ Association of America. In 2011, Davis made his first relief appearance against the Texas Rangers in the American League Division Series; he recorded a total of two scoreless innings. In 2012, due to large number of competitive pitchers, Davis did not make the starting rotation and was moved to the bullpen to work as the long relief pitcher. In Game 1 of the 2012 season, he relieved J.P. Howell and was able to get three batters out, while walking one. Davis’ ERA is 4.21, with a record of 25-22.
Davis is known for being silent but deadly since he hardly ever shows emotion when he pitches; he also shot and killed a 300-pound black bear with a cross bow in Toronto on a hunting trip.
As Spring Training begins, the one trait of the Rays that
diminishes fans’ worries is pitching. Though Mr. No-Hitter Matt Garza was traded to the Chicago Cubs this past off-season, five
pitchers remain: Wade Davis, Jeremy
Hellickson, Jeff Niemann, David Price, and James Shield. The biggest
question remains as what order the pitchers will be pitching. This is what I
David Price: 2010
Stats: 19-6, 2.72 ERA. Price was selected 1st overall in the 2007
Major League Baseball Draft and ever since then, he has become a fan favorite
in pitching. 99.9% of Rays fans remember him recording the final out of the Red
Sox in game 7 of the 2008 American League Championship Game, which led to the
Rays making their first appearance in the World Series. After a shaky 2009 year
as a starting pitcher, Price bounced back in 2010 and was even a Cy Young candidate
(should have won). Price is also a left handed pitcher, one of the best in the
league (behind C. C. Sabathia). Price has shown that he can pitch under
pressure and deserves to be the opening day pitcher after a beautiful 2010
James Shields: 2010
Stats: 13-15, 5.18 ERA. Shields is currently the oldest starting Rays
pitcher and he is not even 30 yet. Shields has been the opening day pitcher
since 2008, but after his miserable
year last year, the torch will PROBABLY be
passed to Price. Shields allowed a MLB
most 34 homeruns last year; not surprising after the Toronto Incident. If several Rays fans have repressed their
memories on what happened on August 7, 2010, I will remind you because unfortunately
I was not able to repress it. That day Shields gave up 6 homeruns to the
Toronto Blue Jays. The reason why he is #2 pitcher is because 1) veteran
pitcher 2) 1 bad year cannot over shadow his other years and 3) Maddon remains loyal
to his players. Hopefully, Shields can demonstrate this Spring Training how he
has turned his life around, though on Sunday (Feb 27) Shields allowed a solo
homerun with 2 outs*flashbacks of 2010 year* I’m rooting for you Shields!
Jeff Niemann: 2010
Stats: 12-10, 4.07 ERA. Niemann stepped on the screen in the year 2009.
After Price’s rookie year was far from what Rays fans thought was going to
happen, Niemann proved that he too is an rookie amazing pitcher. Niemann ended 2009 with an outstanding record (13-6)
and was in discussion for the 2009 AL
Rookie of the Year. (In fact, I even tried bidding for his jersey, until realizing
I’m a poor college student and have no money.) Last year, Niemann started out
with a strong 2010 year before going on the DL half way through the season.
Ever since then, he ended the year losing nearly every game, though looked
promising in the last 2 games. Niemann
is bound to be back to normal, which is why he will be pitching #3 this year.
Wade Davis: 2010 Stats:
12-10 ERA 4.07. Davis barely made the starting roster last year and had a
few shaky starts that had Rays fans calling for his head (o because it so easy pitching
in a professional sport! Haters). Davis proved the doubters wrong, especially
after returning from the DL midseason. After Niemann was having trouble, Davis
was the opposite and showed his best pitching. Davis finished 2010 with 4th
place in AL Rookie of the Year voting and was Top Rookie amongst
Rays, determined by the Tampa Bay chapter of the Baseball’s Writer’s Association.
Davis has a shot at getting to be #3 if he outshines Niemann (or even
Shields) in the next month.
Hellickson: 2010 Stats: 4-0, 3.47 ERA.
At 23, Hellickson is less than 2 years my senior, yet already is making a name
for himself. He was, in 2010, USA Today
Minor League Player of the Year, Triple-A
National Championship MVP, and Baseball
American Minor League All-Star. On August 2, 2010, Hellickson made his
major league debut against the Minnesota Twins. He was amazing and held the Twins
to only 2 runs over 7 innings (I witnessed his first game and kept the game ticket).
Hellickson is currently recovering from a sore hamstring, but he has a lot of
potential; Baseball America has him ranked as #6 Prospect. Now, I
just need to get him to autograph my game ticket.
Even though Matt
Garza will be deeply missed, the 5 starting pitchers left on team show that
the Rays still have a chance to win the A.L. East. Rays are counting on Shields
to make a comeback and Hellickson to live up to his potential. A baseball team
is only as strong as its pitching, which makes defeating the Yankees this year a
possibility. The Yankees’ rotation only contains 2 reliable pitchers (C.C.
Sabathia & Phil Hughes). The other 3 (A.J. Burnett, Ivan Nova, and Freddy
Garcia) will help determine if the Yankees can make it in October. The Rays’ Pitchers will make sure the Rays
will be there.
Sources: (Because plagiarism is bad)