LHP Erik Bedard pitching in the first inning, Tuesday night. (Photo courtesy of Elise Amendola/AP Photo)
LHP Erik Bedard pitching in the first inning, Tuesday night. (Photo courtesy of Elise Amendola/AP Photo)

“It’s like someone made pitcher voodoo dolls. It’s unreal how bad it is.”
— James Bowman

Update: If you haven’t heard, there was a minor scheduling kerfuffle thanks to Wednesday’s inclement weather borne rain out. The saga went a little something like this: heavy storms were expected in the Boston area yesterday afternoon, and because of it, the meeting between the Rays and Red Sox was postponed. A decision on the part of the Red Sox was made; make up the game today (Thursday) in a double header — you know, as opposed to making it up on another date altogether — due in part to a lack of storage at Fenway. According to red Sox team officials, a Dustin Pedroia bobble head was to be given out last night and there was no place to store them in the interim. I know, it’s totally unreasonable to assume that where they’re currently being stored wouldn’t suffice.

The Red Sox used an exception to the CBA which gives them a certain amount of levity to do what they want. The Rays objected, noting the practical alternatives to a double header today, such as a double header in May, or a make up day on September 22nd — currently an off-day. However, the Rays objections didn’t matter. Per acting player rep Ben Zobrist, the team was told by Major League Baseball that the Red Sox (and Cubs) have exceptions to the Basic Agreement “to basically exercise their own right to do what they want to do.”

The exception which allowed the Red Sox to, effectively, choose (sans discussion with the Rays) the date of the double header.
The exception to the CBA which allowed the Red Sox to, effectively, choose (sans discussion with the Rays) the date of the double header.

“Yea, its frustrating,” Zobrist said. “It’s frustrating that the weather is bad, it’s probably not going to be much better tomorrow morning (Thursday) from what we’re looking at. And based upon our wishes, that it didn’t matter what we said, that’s frustrating. That we didn’t have any say in it. To put it bluntly, this decision, more than likely, had nothing to do with some stupid bobble head. More or less, the Red Sox see the Rays are hurt, the pitching’s tattered, and this is their attempt to take advantage of the Rays. To which we say, fuck you.

The coveted Pedroia bobble head. Look how much space it's taking up!
Behold, the coveted Pedroia bobble head! Look how much space it’s taking up! (Photo courtesy of Marc Topkin)

You can call it déjà vu, or a nasty bout of SSDD syndrome. Whatever you choose to call it, the Rays bullpen melted down for the fourth time in a week, Tuesday night, culminating in a 7-4 loss to the Boston Red Sox. One thing was about the loss was different, however: LHP Erik Bedard wasn’t to blame for the Rays shortcomings. In fact, his 5 IP/4 H/1 ER/3 BB/4 K line was, dare I say, almost refreshing?! Bedard did what Brandon Gomes, Juan Carlos Oviedo, and Joel Peralta couldn’t — keep the Rays in the game.

Robbie Knopf of Rays Colored Glasses wrote prior to the game,

“Erik Bedard has reached the end of the line. The former Baltimore Orioles ace is 35 years old and has a 7.45 ERA in his three appearances for the Tampa Bay Rays this season, walking more than he has struck out. And while the Tampa Bay Rays are scrambling for fill-in starters with Matt Moore, Alex Cobb, and Jeremy Hellickson out, if Bedard fails to perform one more time, he may buy himself his release. Tonight, Bedard goes up against the Boston Red Sox with the Rays desperately needing a win. Can he finally put something together?”

Thanks to his start in the series opener, I’d imagine Bedard bought himself a little more time. When you consider Bedard’s last couple of starts, his five inning/one run outing was a sea change. Bedard stuck to the plan, and attacked Boston’s hitters with his fastball (73 thrown, 37 strikes, five whiffs), followed with a good curve (29 thrown, 16 strikes, two whiffs), and tossed in a few change-ups (12 thrown, nine strikes) for good measure. He got himself into a couple of RISP jams in the fourth and fifth innings, however (unlike his previous two starts) he was able to work through those situations, holding the Sox to only one run. By attacking the zone, Bedard was able to avoid the big inning that’s plagued him in the past. In true “everyone’s a critic but I really respect your talent” form, there’s still a want for Bedard to put together more efficient innings, akin to his 12-pitch third. Mind you, that he couldn’t put away the hitters efficiently isn’t really a true implication of Bedard. It was due, in part at least, to Boston’s ability to foul off pitch after pitch. We’ve seen Boston’s hitters do this to other pitchers many times over (Chris Archer, last season, comes to mind) and Bedard just happened to be on the receiving end of things this time around.

As for the rest of the game, the bullpen did what has become common place over the last few weeks — give up a bunch of runs in one inning. I have a handful of questions and observations:

  1. Why wasn’t Brandon Gomes pulled after he gave up his first walk? Juan Carlos Oviedo was warming up in the ‘pen after Gomes faced his first batter, presumably because Maddon saw something he didn’t like in his pitches. Yet, Maddon waited until Gomes got an out (after giving up two consecutive walks) before making an executive decision. His fastball looked flat, and he just didn’t look comfortable throwing on the mound. If anything, he looked as though he was trying to force/aim his pitches — and he missed terribly in doing so.
  2. The sixth didn’t start out as a high leverage inning, but boy did it ever become one. To clarify the Rays’ recent roster moves: they optioned Brad Boxberger in order to call-up CJ Riefenhauser… Who was then optioned back to Triple-A in order to call up Juan Carlos Oviedo.
  3. On that note, it all starts with fastball command. To be perfectly honest, I couldn’t care less about Oviedo’s “killer change-up” if he can’t get a quality fastball over the plate to set up his off-speed stuff. The pitches he got over the plate were nothing but meatballs, or as BA likes to call them, cement mixers.
  4. Joel Peralta had one of the freshest arms in the ‘pen — after all, he hadn’t seen work in four days prior to his eighth inning outing. I know Maddon likes to use Peralta in high-leverage situations, which begs the question: why wouldn’t Maddon rely on him with two on in the sixth inning, instead of Oviedo?

The New What Next

Cesar Ramos looks to build on an impressive pair of starts in the first game of the double header, while Chris Archer takes the bump in the second game at 7:10. In any case, you can read about the match-up in our series preview.

Rays 5/1/14 Starting Lineup (game one)

Zobrist 2B
Jennings CF
Joyce LF
Longoria 3B
Loney 1B
Myers RF
DeJesus DH
Escobar SS
Molina C
Ramos LHP

Rays 5/1/14 Starting Lineup



  • Joe Maddon broke out a Churchill line when discussing the team’s struggles: “When going through hell just keep on going.”

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