Looking Backward While Moving Forward: Misplays and an Unproductive Offense Spoil Smyly’s Start

In May I wrote about just wanting to see the Tampa Bay Rays play consistent baseball, back when it seemed like a postseason berth was both improbable and impossible. Yet toward the beginning of June, the Rays started playing uber consistent, .700 ball, and the impossible almost seemed within reach — the odds of Tampa Bay making the postseason jumped from a sub 1% chance to a 15% chance over the course of a month and a half. But after dropping four of their last five, including last night’s disappointing 3-o loss to the Athletics, the Rays have dropped back down to a 3.9% chance of making the playoffs (per Fan Graphs).

The New What Next: Enter The A’s — A Series Preview of Sorts

The Tampa Bay Rays return home to face a very hot Oakland Athletics, on the heels of a disappointing 3-4 West Coast jaunt. Had the Rays gone 4-3, the tenor may be different. However they didn’t. At this point, their only real glimmers of hope are the possibilities that the pitching will stabilize with the return of Alex Cobb, and — at five games back — no one has put together a massive run in the AL East. It’s a very different story of the 28-16 Oakland Athletics. The A’s are 9-1 over a their last 10 games, entering the Trop on a three-game winning streak. Furthermore, at 16-6 on the road, Oakland has been pretty damn dominant in other team’s facilities.

Looking Backward While Moving Forward: The “Yeesh” Edition

For the moment, everything is coming up Milhouse for the Rays. Not even a dazzling 2 R/5 H complete game outing by Alex Cobb was good enough Saturday night, as Tampa Bay’s anemic offense couldn’t muster more than a run in the 2-1 loss to the Athletics. Even then, that run came in a late game rally off former Ray Grant Balfour. It certainly doesn’t take into account all of the squandered opportunities leading up to that point.

The New What Next: Rays vs A’s – The Battle of the Bays

The good news: Tampa Bay has won nine of its last 15 with the pitching staff relinquishing only 2.6 runs, on average, per game. The bad: They’ve dropped four out of their last five, averaging only 2.6 runs per game in that stretch. Thursday’s game followed a familiar pattern; the pitchers put together a good enough start, yet the offense couldn’t muster anything. Rather, they were able to get eight runners on — but moving them over or driving them in? Not so much. You’ve got to love streakiness — one moment you’re feeling the highest of highs, and the next you feel like you’ve gotten punched in the stomach.