Let’s be clear. We absolutely cannot blame Thursday night’s loss on the Rays hitters. Sure, there were some missed opportunities; They went 0-6 wRISP, and they’re now 0 for their last 12 (0-14 extending back to last season) with the bases loaded. But for a team that is built on pitching and defense, six runs should have been enough for the Rays to walk out of Baltimore with a series win, not a loss.
If I may, Thursday night’s 10-6 loss is on the hands of David Price and those that came on in relief of him — with the exception of Joel Peralta. Price only lasted six innings, posting a 6 IP/8 H/5 R/5 ER/6 K/1 HR line on 86 pitches (60 for strikes). Not very Price-like. To be fair, he pounded the zone all night, though he left too many hittable pitches up in the zone, and he got punished for doing so.
That the Rays seem to be seeing the ball better, and are subsequently hitting said ball, is encouraging. Hopefully they’ll continue to do as much in their upcoming six game home-stand.
Last night reminded us that the pitching needs to stabilize if Tampa Bay is going to do anything over both the short and long terms. It also bears mentioning that the Rays absolutely cannot keep making stupid defensive mistakes that may give the opposition a fourth or fifth out in any given inning. Case in point, the foul ball that Matt Joyce should have tracked down, and the botched double play that Yunel Escobar should have turned. Again, this team is built on pitching and defense, and they need to play like it.
Furthermore, this disconnect between pitching and hitting needs to come to pass. They cannot be successful if they hit well one night, and pitch well the next. Both the pitching and hitting need to click in concert. In the end, they’re going to need to be on their game (both offensively and defensively) with the 12-4 Oakland Athletics — a team that’s averaged 7.3 runs per game in their last series — coming into town Friday.
Key Match-ups vs. A’s Series Starters:
- Brett Anderson: According to Rotowire, “After two very solid starts to begin the season, Anderson was lit up by the Tigers on Saturday, allowing seven earned runs over 5.2 innings. He also gave up three home runs, all in the fourth inning.” Anderson last faced the Rays in 2010, where he went seven innings and gave up two runs on eight hits. Only seven current Rays have faced Anderson in 29 total at-bats. Of those seven players, four have put up decent numbers against Anderson. Key match-ups: Evan Longoria (2-8, HR, RBI), Jose Molina (2-5), Sean Rodriguez (1-2, BB), Ben Zobrist (2-4, RBI).
- Jarrod Parker: The young righty went 0-1 with a 4.50 ERA against the Rays in 2012. The Rays have done okay against Parker, posting a team .263 BA/.364 OBP/.500 SLG/.864 OPS in 38 official at-bats. Key match-ups: Desmond Jennings (1-4, 3 BB), Kelly Johnson (1-3, HR, 2 RBI, BB), Evan Longoria (1-3), Ryan Roberts (3-6, RBI), Ben Zobrist (2-6, 3B, HR, RBI).
- Tommy Milone: According to Rotowire, “Milone struck out six batters and allowed two runs on eight hits over 6.2 innings against the Astros on Monday.” Milone is 1-1 with an 8.18 ERA against the Rays. Tampa Bay has scored 10 runs on 12 hits — including a homer — and five walks. Key match-ups: Shelley Duncan (2-5, HR, 4 RBI), Yunel Escobar (1-3, 2 RBI), Sam Fuld (1-3), Kelly Johnson (3-5, HR, 2 RBI), Matt Joyce (2-5, 2 RBI), Jose Lobaton (1-2, 2B), Ryan Roberts (2-2, 2 2B), Sean Rodriguez (2-4, 2 RBI, BB), Ben Zobrist (1-3, RBI).
- The Oakland Athletics have the best record in the AL, and their off to their best road start in 23 seasons.
- Per Yahoo Sports, since opening with two straight losses, Oakland (12-4) has lost twice in 14 contests and is coming off a three-game sweep of the lowly Astros.
- Oakland hit .326 and clubbed 13 of its 20 home runs while outscoring the Astros and Angels 51-20 on the trek. Oakland leads the majors with 96 runs and ranks near the top with a .354 on-base percentage while slugging .464. The — this far– offensive dominated 2013 A’s are a far cry from the pitching dominated 2012 team that won the AL West.
- The A’s have four players on the 15-day DL: LF Yoenis Cespedes, SS Hiroyuki Nakajima, SS Adam Rosales, and 3B Scott Sizemore
- DRaysBay said it best, ” (The) 10-6 loss to the Orioles wraps up a road trip in which the Rays went 2-7 and played some of the worst baseball I’ve seen from them over the past five seasons.”
- DRaysBay also notes, “To say that the Rays pitching staff will be tested by an A’s offense is an understatement. Entering Thursday evenings action the A’s offense sits at or near the top of the American League in several categories. They are first in runs (96), runs/game (6.0), home runs (20), walks (70), OBP (.355), OPS (.818), OPS+ (129), wRC+ (130), and stolen bases (15) and are second in slugging percentage (.464). The have outscored their opponents 96-63 and have 6 blowout wins (defined as margin of victory of 5 or more runs). As the numbers suggest – the A’s will take their walks, steal bases, and drive the ball out of the park. Shutting them down will not be an easy task.”
- The A’s have the best run differential in the AL (+33)
- Alex Cobb (1-1, 1.93), is 2-1 with a 2.66 ERA against the A’s, including a two-hit complete game shutout last summer.
- Three of Longoria’s four hits in his last 17 at-bats have left the park. He’s 2 for 8 with a homer against Anderson.