To whom it may concern,
Let me first start by saying if being a partial season ticket holder speaks to anything, it’s that I am a true blue, die-hard Tampa Bay Rays fan. I love my small market team. I love the philosophy that Joe Maddon espouses. Moreover, I love that the roster is full of gritty players as opposed to the over inflated — ego driven — superstars that occupy the rosters of the Yankees, Dodgers, and the like. The 2008 and 2011 seasons will go down in the annals of baseball history for obvious reasons, and I’m still proud that I was able to be a part of those seasons in some capacity.
However, it hasn’t always been pretty — lest we forget the first ten years. I also remember that sinking feeling in 2009 when Tampa Bay followed the magical 2008 season with disappointment. And then there was that bitter sweet feeling at the end of 2012 — a season in which the Rays won 90 games, but fell short of the Wildcard by three.
At this point in time, I’m not sure where to file the 2013 season. There are similarities between this and 2008. Then again, the inconsistent play in April, June and August (and now to start September) really don’t bode well for that comparison. The Rays certainly don’t seem as dominant as they had in 2010, and absent is the tenacity and swagger that permeated most of the second half of the 2011 season. It really feels as though Tampa Bay is sleep walking toward game 162 on tired legs. The Rays lackluster performance following a 21-5 July solidify that feeling — last night’s game included.
The Rays allowed another close game to slip away, thanks to egregious errors on the base paths and in the field. Consider the eighth inning running gaffe by Sean Rodriguez — a gaffe that ultimately cost the Rays the lead going into the bottom of the inning. His falling 1.1 UBR (from 1.6 in 2012) speaks volumes to the idea Rodriguez has made too many running errors on the base paths this season. A once dependable base runner, we can no longer trust Rodriguez in high leverage situations. Then there was the fielding error by Desmond Jennings, which allowed Kyle Seager to reach second. A steady fielder by all accounts, Jennings has made three errors in the last two weeks. These two errors alone changed the outcome of the game. It didn’t help that Tampa Bay went 1-8 wRISP, ultimately stranding 12 men on the bags.
As of now, Tampa Bay is 40-11 against sub .500 teams. Of those 11 losses, 10 have come by two or fewer runs. Just think, the good guys would be sitting pretty with an 82-58 record had they won even five of those games. As Kevin, a friend of the blog, noted, “At this point its time to panic. Not panic to the point of just over playing, but reaching down to your soul and using every bit of talent and skill you have.”
In the end, I will stand by my team. I’ve been there for the highs and lows; the sellouts and games where it was so desolate and quiet, you could hear a pin drop. However, it’s much more fun watching a team that pounces the foibles of other franchises, rather than being the franchise that’s regressing.
The New What Next
Chris Archer will play the role of mopper-upper today against rookie James Paxton. You can read about the pitching match-up here.
Rays 9/7/13 Starting Lineup
- Per Roger Mooney, “The Rays entered Friday’s game with a 13-19 record since July 31. They averaged 3.2 runs per game (29th in the majors) during that stretch and have hit 26 home runs (23rd in the majors).” Furthermore, they were 12-for-73 (.164) with runners in scoring position during the first seven games of this 10-game road trip.
- At 77-63, the Rays can ill afford to lose many more games. Consider that Baltimore won 93 games in their Wildcard clinching season. With that in mind, Tampa Bay needs to win 16 of the remaining 22 games. Possible? Yes. Probable considering the way they’ve been playing? Urm…