It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to heaven, we were all going direct the other way…
Going into last night’s rain lengthened game, you were given the impression that Tampa Bay were a mere inches from putting together a stretch run. Eight of their last 14 games were determined by one or two runs, and because of it one thing was certain; the pieces were there, it just came down to putting them together. Still, we waited with baited breath for a sign that they were on the other side of their malaise. If last night’s 7-0 handcuffing of the Twins did anything, it’s offer that sign… That glimmer of hope the Rays are ready to move forward. Tampa Bay starts the day tied with Texas for the first Wildcard spot, primed to pounce going into the last 15 games of the season.
Don’t call the EMT’s just yet. Tampa Bay showed signs of life Tuesday night in the 7-1 win, and return to the mound of Matt Moore. The Rays All-Star lefty spent the better part of 36 days on the DL with a sore elbow, prior to his 5-1/3 inning start. And granted this may not have been his sharpest start (with Moore posting a 57% K%) of the season, Moore helped ignite the spark that allowed the Rays offense to explode — ultimately tagging Jason Vargas and Anaheim for seven runs on 15 hits and seven walks. Roberto Hernandez came on in relief in the sixth and put together 3-2/3 innings of perfect baseball, striking out seven along the way.
awbreaker, the relatively famous melodic punk band from the 90’s, coined the phrase, “When it pains it roars.” I could be wrong, but I believe Blake, the former singer and guitarist of Jawbreaker, was referring to the Rays with his Nostradamus like prophecy. After all, the pain really is roaring at the moment following their three-game sweep at the hands A’s — a series in which Tampa Bay scored all of five runs (a 1.6 run per game average), converting only 19% of RISP situations. Mind you too, prior to their most recent — ill fated — series, the Rays came off a lackluster series against the Angels — who they’re facing this week. Tampa Bay wasn’t much better in their last series against the Angels, taking only one game while averaging three runs per game.
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.