Tuesday, June 2, 2009

10 Things I want to see: Win Streak edition

The Tampa Bay Rays take the field again tonight after their first off-day in a long time.  They'll get their first look at the Kansas City Royals this year.  It will be their 3rd consecutive series against an AL Central team.  The Rays need to continue to climb back toward .500. 

Looking back at last week's "10 Things I want to see" column, I found the Rays didn't fare too well when they played in Cleveland.  They started to show some of what I was looking for against Minnesota, but by then it was a little too late.

So, let's hope they do better this week with 10 things I would like to see this week:

1. Consistent starting pitching.  We all know this team lives and dies with the starting pitching. This time through the pitching order, the Rays have got good starts from James Shields, David Price, and Matt Garza. Now, we need to see if Andy Sonnanstine and Jeff Niemann can build on that. Sonnanstine is better at home on the road, but I think he has a short leash. If he has trouble tonight, we could see him headed to Durham.

2. Sweep?!  This is a word we haven't heard on the good end all year.  Of course, the Rays have been swept (who can forget the trip to Cleveland).  But, they haven't done any "sweeping." They've got a good chance to make a statement in this series against the Kansas City Royals. They won't have to face Zack Grienke (8-1, 1.10 ERA) and the Royals have lost 16 out of their last 20.

3. Win Streak.  If the Rays can put together a sweep of the Royals, it would be nice to see them continue that right into new Yankee stadium later in the week.   The Rays have a 4 game set and could easily make up some ground in the AL East.  It will be a tall order, the Yankees are playing some real good baseball since Alex Rodriguez returned to the lineup.

4. .250 for the .150 brothers.  It looks like both B.J. Upton and Dioner Navarro are firmly past the Mendoza line (.200), so the next logical progression in their return to form would be making it to .250.  I think Akinori Iwamura and Jason Bartlett's injuries prevented manager Joe Maddon from making a move to put Upton down the order.  Bossman needs to take advantage of that and set up the guys behind him in the order.

5 More CC.  Is there anything this guy can't do? He steals bases. He hits homers. He makes great plays in the outfield. He keeps looking better and better at the plate.  It's amazing that we could possibly see 4 Rays in the all-star game this year (CC, Longo, Pena, Bartlett). Of course, it doesn't hurt when your manager is managing the American League team. 

6. Bullpen consistency.  I called for this last week and I'm going to do it again.  The Rays need to fine tune the roles for each of the guys in the bullpen.  I know that the injuries have made it difficult and short outings by starters haven't helped, but Maddon's use of the bullpen is becoming a hodge-podge of choices based on match-ups.  I don't mind that, if they're getting the job done.  But, last week against Cleveland, they weren't getting it done. 

7. Weekday wins. The Rays are 2-7 the last three weeks on Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday.  In contrast, they're 6-0 during the last three weeks of Fridays and Saturday.  Shake off the hump day blues, guys! Need to start winning all week.

8. The continuation of David Price.  We saw what he was capable of on Saturday.  I'd like to see that continue at Yankee Stadium on Friday.  Big night. Big stage. Big Battle.

9. Contributions from the other guys.  We already know that Ben Zobrist and Willy Aybar can stand in for Bartlett and Aki, but now we need to see the Durham Bull guys do their part.  Joe "Dillionaire" Dillon, Matt Joyce, and Reid Brignac are all going to have to contribute this week. They had a nice weekend, but it needs to keep going.

10. Play hard. Have fun.  This comes from watching the 2008 ALCS again on MLB network the other day.  That was a team that didn't worry about who was batting where or who was doing what.  They just got the job done when it mattered.  In one of the biggest stages in baseball, that was a loose team.  The Boston Red Sox were the ones pressing.  Contrast that to this year, it seems that the Rays are always the one pressing.  Maybe that's what happens when expectations have risen.  But, somehow the team and Joe Maddon need to figure out a way to get some of that magic back.


Speaking of the Magic, I'd like to wish the Orlando Magic the best of luck in their upcoming NBA Finals series against the Los Angeles Lakers.  I was real big fan back in the Shaq/Penny Hardaway days when I lived there.  I haven't watched them as much until the playoffs, but they look like a team on a mission.

Also, don't forget to check out my Father's Day gift ideas for the Rays fans in your life. Bookmark the page and send it around.  You can use the ShareMe button below to send it to whatever site or person you wish. 

And join me on twitter.  You'll get my constant musings about the Rays, along with some good-natured banter among fans of other teams. I've already staked out some Royals and Yankees fans for the week.


Matty said...

I hate to say it -- but it seems like every time you do a "10 Things I'd Like to See..." edition the Rays give you "10 Things You'd Like to Never See."

Maybe it's time to avoid those to get the Rays on a winning streak.

Michael_Rays Rev said...

I'll give it one more chance. If not, next week will be "10 Things I don't want to see"...

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