Tampa Bay Rays starting lineup:
Tampa Bay (25-18) enters tonight’s game against the Blue Jays two full games behind the first place Orioles. Matt Moore (1-4, 5.20 ERA) will take the mound against sinker-baller Andrew Hutchinson (3-1, 4.81 ERA) as he attempts to carry the success of the final four innings of his last start, into tonight. The Rays are depending on a big start from Moore, if their anemic offense has any hope of faring well against the Jays
At the moment, Tampa Bay has committed 38 errors through 43 games. That’s the most since the ’07 season. The Rays are on a current pace for team record 143 errors. All this from a pitching/fielding team. Yikes. Blame the errors on what you will. But the fact of the matter stands, with the exception of the three games that Thompson and Allen have started, as well as the games that Rhymes has played, the Rays defense is fairly adept in the positions they’re covering, be them their normal positions or otherwise. They’re really shouldn’t be any reasons that the Rays are performing at this low level.
To be fair, the pitching has been there, but the fielding and offense have not. Compound that with the fact that Rays have scored, on average, 2.71 runs per game in the last seven games. They’ve now faced at least three teams that are scoring 4.5 plus runs per game, over the course of this home stand, and going back into the road trip prior. Too many errors and not enough runs will sink a team, and the proof is in the pudding; the Rays are now 4-6 in their last 10 games.
Upton, Joyce, Rodriguez, and Rhymes have really carried this team in the last seven games, scoring a combined 14 runs. Yet, the players that need to be driving in those runs have not done so at an efficient clip. That is in the last seven games at least. To their credit, Zobrist and Pena have gotten on base and worked good counts. However, they’ve only driven in RBI between the two of them.
They’re facing (sigh…) yet, another, sinker baller tonight. Don’t let Hutchinson’s relatively high ERA deceive you, he has gotten better as the season’s progressed. In fact, he’s 2-0 in his last two start, having given up only two runs in his last 12 innings of work. Drabek gave up six walks last night. Yet of the eight Rays baserunners, only three had hits. The Rays were able to force him into at least six three ball counts which is a good thing. Stranding eight base runners, and going 1-6 with runners in scoring position, is not.
They’ll need to attack Hutchinson in the same manner tonight. As a sinker-baller that likes to paint the corners (see the graphs below), it will be incumbant on the Rays to work the count; force him to pitch in their zone. Look at the bright side, at least Joe West won’t be calling the balls and strikes! I’ll tack the starting lineup on to this when it’s released.