Riddle: What team has bashed out 26 hits over the course of their last 32 innings of play, yet could only muster six runs in that span of time? Yup, you guessed it…your Tampa Bay Rays. You know, the same team that was only a game behind Baltimore prior to the start of the last series, yet currently sits four games back of the AL East leading Orioles. Ouch.
I suppose you could look at the Rays woes from either an optimistic or pessimistic point of view.
On one hand, Tampa Bay still has 19 games left, with 10 coming against post-season contenders. The Rays also have a lot of winnable games ahead of them. As a wise man once put it, “Their starting and bullpen pitchers are good enough, and it’s not entirely crazy to think that their streaky hitters might get hot all at once and stay hot for a week or two. That could still happen. If the Rays win something like 15 of their next 19 – and with 11 games against a bruised Yankees squad, a scuffling Red Sox team, and a Blue Jays team that lacks both pitching and Bautista (even though E5 has been great this year), that’s within the realm of possibility – their final tilt against Baltimore might be relevant after all.”
Then again, press the panic button folks, the end could be nigh. The same wise man (referenced above) also said, “That sound, I fear, was the death knell for the Rays this year. I know they finish the season with a three-game set against the O’s at the Trop, but I have a hard time imagining the Rays winning often enough in the meantime to make that series relevant.”
It’s worrisome that the Rays are potentially slipping back into the regression phase of their tenuous relationship with productivity, especially at this point in the season…especially if they’re serious about taking a stab at the post-season.
The Rays and offensive production have been at odds with one another for the better part of the season. Sure, there was April and August…and to some extent the beginning of September. But otherwise, there was that huge black hole from May to July. I fear that if they don’t turn things around in their upcoming series against the Bronx Bummers, it may be too late.
Of course, there are usual subjects; Neither Carlos Pena or Luke Scott have performed up to snuff, Matt Joyce seems incapable of hitting left handed pitching, so on and so forth. And sure, there’s enough time for the usual suspects to turn it around…at least I hope. I guess it comes back to that cliche that we’ve had to depend on for so much of this season, there’s always tomorrow. I just hope that Tampa Bay can take advantage of the remaining tomorrow’s. If they can’t, the next tomorrow won’t be in October, it will be game one of Spring Training. Now, onward to the upcoming tomorrow.
- The Rays scored two runs in each of its three games in Baltimore, while going 4 for 37 (.108) wRISP in their past six games. SSDD, I suppose.
- The Rays have lost 10 of 14 in Yankee Stadium, though they’ve gone 9-6 in the season series. Tampa Bay has won five of the last seven against the Yankees, though they’ve hit .215 and scored 18 runs. They’ve also lost four of six in the Bronx this season.
- Oh Matt Joyce, what have you become? After posting a .294 BA/.368 OBP/.618 SLG/.986 OPS/.341 BABIP/.411 wOBA/14.8 wRC line in his best month, (April) Joyce has cooled considerably. Posting a .231 BA/.355 OBP/.423 SLG/.778 OPS/.313 BABIP/.319 wOBA/6.7 wRC line so far in September. He’s put up a .157 BA with 21 strikeouts in his last 22 games.
- Grimmace is on the mound for game one of the series. Jeff Keppinger is batting .400 (8 for 20) in his last five games, and .417 (10 for 24) versus Sabathia. Evan Longoria is hitting .378 (14 for 37) with three doubles and five home runs against the left-hander.
- Is Longoria starting to heat up? After putting up some not so great numbers in August upon his return, Longo seems like he might be turning the corner…and not too soon. He’s posted a .293 BA/.383 OBP/.488 SLG/.871/.303 BABIP/.371 wOBA line so far in September, with two doubles, two homers, three runs, and six RBI.
- Sabathia is 1-1 with a 3.21 ERA in four starts against the Rays this season, including a loss in their last meeting at the Trop on September 3. Sabathia has gone 0-2 with a 4.43 ERA in his last three outings overall, while allowing five runs and three homers in 6-1/3 innings of a loss at Baltimore on Saturday. Price (17-5, 2.54) is 2-1 with a 3.20 ERA in four starts against the Yankees in 2012, but 1-1 with 4.50 ERA in the Bronx this season. However it should be noted, that Price is 4-1 in starts against the McDonalds like character.
- Ivan Nova: The Rays have posted some paltry numbers against Nova, though he did just return from the DL so we’ll see if that works in the Rays favor. Tampa Bay has posted a .185 BA/.252 OBP/.363 SLG/.615 OPS line against Nova, with a few Rays posting decent numbers against: Desmond Jennings (3-10, 2B, 3B, BB), Elliot Johnson (2-5, HR, RBI), Jeff Keppinger (2-5, 2 RBI, BB), Sean Rodriguez (5-12, 2 2B, HR, 2 RBI)
- Hiroki Kuroda: We like Kuroda…if only because the Rays have had a measure of success against him. In 68 combined at-bats, the Rays have BABIP’d Kuroda around, posting a .309 BA/.390 OBP/.485 SLG/.875 OPS line, while knocking in 9 RBI. Favorable match-ups: Sam Fuld (1-2, BB), Desmond Jennings (2-6, RBI), Matt Joyce (2-5, HR, RBI, BB), Carlos Pena (2-5, 2 RBI, BB), Jose Lobaton (2-5, 2 2B, BB), Luke Scott (4-6, 2B, HR, 4 RBI), Ben Zobrist (2-5, 2B, 3B, 2 RBI, BB)