Let’s sum up Saturday’s game as a series of bulleted observations:
- Price looked much better. Forget for a second that he walked two batters and allowed five base runners to reach with two outs in every inning except the fourth, Price posted a 6.0 IP/4 H/1 R/1 ER/2 BB/8 K/1 HR slash line on 106 pitches (69 for strikes), leaning primarily on his two-seam fastball, a deadly changeup (89% for strikes), his curveball and his cutter.
- Excepting the last game of the Indians series and the front two games of the Rangers series, the Rays pitching looks like it’s falling into place. Saturday was no different. Jake McGee, Joel Peralta, Kyle Farnsworth, Cesar Ramos, and Brandon Gomes teamed up for 3-1/3 innings of three hit, one run, one walk, three strikeout baseball. And before you blame Gomes for the loss, consider that Jose Lobaton made a horrendous stab at throwing out Jacoby Ellsbury at second, resulting in an error and a runner at third. Also consider that Yunel Escobar’s mishandling of the game winning Shane Victorino infield hit — with five men in the infield, mind you — cost the Rays the game.
- Offense, or lack thereof. Tampa Bay had ample opportunity the beat up on Jon Lester and the Red Sox, yet — as the saying goes — they couldn’t pull the trigger. The Rays had runners in scoring position in the first, second, third, ninth, and tenth innings, yet they couldn’t cash in on those opportunities, ultimately going 0-11 wRISP. To add insult to injury, Tampa Bay is now three for their last 36 in wRISP opportunities.
- In 34 official at-bats, Yunel Escobar has four hits, a pair of runs, and a pair of runs batted in. He’s struck out nine times, and grounded into two double plays. He’s primarily kept the ball on the ground when he’s made contact, resulting in out-after-out. Escobar is now 4-34 at the plate.
- To be fair, Escobar is but one player. His performance at the plate is a good metaphor for the Rays offense overall. I can’t help but wonder when this new and improved offense is going to show any semblance of anything other than mediocrity. Take into consideration that are dead last in the AL in Homers (4), RBI (31), batting average (.227) and in total bases. At 94 total bases, the Rays are the only team still in double digits.
Well put, “We have to really start to become unselfish,” third baseman Evan Longoria said. “Even if it’s the 2-3-4 guys in the lineup, if we’re not producing runs, if you’re not up there swinging the bat hot, hitting the ball out of the ballpark or driving the ball in the gap and producing runs that way, then it might be time to start thinking about doing the little things that we’ve done to be successful — just moving the guy, trying to make a conscious effort to hit the ball the other way or lay down a bunt, whatever it is.
The New What Next:
The Rays, who have lost four of five, will have to find a way to generate some runs against a very tough Clay Buchholz. Tampa Bay has scored just four runs in their last three games, going 0 for their last 17 with runners in scoring position.
Alex Cobb (1-0, 0.00) will take the mound Sunday. Cobb is coming off a really good start against the Indians, throwing 7-1/3 innings of shutout baseball in a 6-0 home win. Furthermore, Cobb has won his last three outings while allowing just two runs in 19-1/3 innings dating back to last season. One of those victories came in a 4-2 win last September at Fenway, where he’s 2-0 with a 1.80 ERA in two career starts.
Rays 4/14/13 Starting Lineup:
- Jose Molina is back in the lineup for the second consecutive day.
- With Fuld getting the start in right-field, Ben Zobrist will platoon at second, hitting second behind Desmond Jennings,