Put a fork in it, the Tampa Bay Rays’ most disappointing season since 2007 came to a close in disappointing fashion, with the Rays falling to the Cleveland Indians 7-2. The Rays ended the season with a 77-85 record, and their lowest offensive output since the Devil Rays days (more on that below). Alex Cobb took the mound against Indians starter TJ House and allowed ten hits, including a rare two homer second inning. Meanwhile House, while lasting only 49 pitches, proved to be effective, ultimately limiting the Rays to one run in five innings.
The Rays got on the board first in the second inning, thanks to a Sean Rodriguez home run; his 12th on the year and good enough for second best on the Rays (behind Evan Longoria). The one-run lead was short lived, however. David Murphy and Zach Walters both took Cobb deep in the bottom of the inning to give the Indians a one-run advantage.
Cleveland scored again in the bottom of the fifth inning, when Jose Ramirez plated Tyler Holt on a sac-fly.
The Rays managed to put another run on the board in the top of the sixth after Longoria brought Brandon Guyer home with a sac-fly of his own. Tampa Bay held the deficit to two runs until the seventh when the typically reliable Jeff Beliveau gave up three runs, blowing the game open for the Indians.
Brandon Gomes and CJ Riefenhauser finished the game for the Rays, though the offense would never be able to overcome the five run margin.
And that my friends, is how one of the most disappointing years on record ended on a whimper, not a bang. A few game and season peripherals follow.
- At 612 runs scored (some 88 runs fewer than the previous season), the Rays scored the fewest runs in the American League this season, and the fewest in team history.
- The Rays finished the season with 116 home runs hit (12th in the AL) — a difference of 53 runs from the previous year.
- Meanwhile, at 1,437 K’s, Tampa Bay struck out the second most batters in MLB history, falling 13 short of the Indians.
- The Rays ended the season with a 41-40 road record, and a 36-45 record at home.
- Alex Cobb finished the season with a 2.87 ERA, which is fourth best in team history and sixth in the American League. The other Rays starters who ended their respective seasons (162 IP minimum) with a better ERA to that of Cobb were David Price with a 2.56 ERA in 2012 and a 2.72 ERA in 2010, and James Shields with a 2.82 ERA in 2011.
- The Rays finished the 2014 season with 1.44 MM fans through the gate — a worst-in-the-league average of 17,858 fans per game — their poorest showing since 2007.As Noah Pransky of the Shadow of the Stadium blog writes,
The 2014 total represents nearly an 800 fan-per-game drop from 2013, which is about right given the team’s terrible start and season-long struggle to reach .500. The rest of MLB attendance remained about flat from 2013.
Its also worth noting the Rays enjoyed another good year on television and stand to make major financial gains when they renegotiate their TV contract, set to expire after the 2016 season.
The Indians dropped to just 274 fans per game ahead of Tampa Bay with three games to go, but the season-ending series against the Rays boosted that number back up to 570.
However, had the Indians counted their three weekday single-admission doubleheaders toward their attendance totals, their per-game average would look much different. If you added the 40,129 total fans who saw the three doubleheaders, the Indians’ average would be 18,241 — 344 fans ahead of the Rays. If you don’t double-count the fans from the doubleheader (we don’t know if they watched both games), the Indians would be averaging just 17,746 — 122 fans behind the Rays, who sold about 10,000 more tickets this year.
- The Rays began their long off-season all too soon, though I can’t wait to see what kinds of moves they make to bolster the roster going into the 2015 season. While we won’t be putting together updates with the frequency that both Spring Training and the regular season schedules dictate, we’ll be keeping up with all the Hot Stove moves. Hell, maybe we’ll even write about the postseason (cough, let’s go Royals).That said, we’d love to add some contributors to the fold. Know how to read statistics, and have some writing chops? Are you a sarcastic old coot who hates the Yankees or Red Sox? Get in touch: Belowaverageraysfansite@gmail.com