Sunday hasn't been so kind to the Rays the last couple of weeks. They've lost three 1-run games in a row on consecutive Sundays. All three of those wins followed nice victories on Saturday. Yesterday, was no exception. The Rays bullpen gave up a 2-run lead in the 8th to the New York Yankees... giving the Bronx Bombers some life after the Rays showed their resiliency the day before. Make no mistake. The Yankees are a tough team to play in their new park. And, honestly, it's asking a lot to win there with only three runs. But, the walks and errors made it that much worse. Watching Willy Aybar boot a ball that Evan Longoria would've easily scooped up makes it even harder to swallow. Watching Grant Balfour revert back to the guy that couldn't make a major league squad is even tougher. But, it's all part of the ups and downs of 162 season. On Saturday, the roller coaster was up... yesterday it was down.
Last week's 10 Things went pretty much according to plan. The Rays got a win streak, a sweep, and some good starting pitching. B.J. Upton continued to keep his hot bat going. We also saw a solid weekday performance from the team and some home domination.
So, here's 10 Things I want to see this week:
1. One more win at New Yankee Stadium. I know yesterday was a tough loss. But, the Rays need to shake it off and get the win tonight. That way they net 1 game in the standings as opposed to dropping 1 game further behind the Yankees. When you're a .500 team at this point in the season, you can't afford to drop division series if you want to climb back.
2. Continued Home Dominance. The Rays went 5-1 on their last home stand. They need to keep that going this week. 5 games over .500 at home is nice, but you have to be Red Sox Fenway Park dominant if you're going to win that division. Joe Maddon apparently agrees, he's shifting the starting rotation so that James Shields gets two starts at home.
3. Get above .500 and stay there. Right now, the Rays are back at .500. They need to get over that mark and stay there. No looking back. No regressions. Start picking up a game or two a week and they'll bet back in this thing. No more 1 step forward, 2 steps back, the Rays need all forward steps.
4. Evan Longoria back in the lineup. I understand that the team is trying to keep Longo from doing more damage, but the Longo situation is getting extremely frustrating. Either he's hurt or he's not. According to the St. Pete Times, it's up to Longo whether he'll be in the lineup tonight. If that's the case, Longo, you need to get your a** back out there. Right now!
5. Pat the Bat's protection. It seems like forever since we've seen Pat the Bat make an appearance. Oh wait, it has been forever (since May 11th). He's scheduled to play for the Montgomery Biscuits on a rehab assignment to get some live pitching. The Rays need to get him back in the lineup to offer some protection for Carlos Pena. With both Longo and Pat the Bat out, the Rays 1st baseman isn't seeing anything to hit.
6. National League feast. The Rays get the chance to face the great Washington Nationals team this week. This is the only team in the majors that hasn't won 20 games. In fact, they've only won 15 games. The Rays should have no excuses when it comes to Washington. I can't wait to see Adam Dunn try to play left field at the Trop. I expect a sweep. The Rays need to continue the National League dominance they started last year.
7. More quality, deep starts. It's no coincidence that the Rays did real well last week when their starters took them deep into games. This bullpen is still a ragtag bunch without any clear rolls. As long as that continues, the Rays need to get quality starts out of their pitching. That means at least 7 innings. If we start seeing the bullpen in the 6th, things could get sticky.
8. Better defense. Injuries are playing a factor in the Rays defensive problems, right now. But, the Rays need to focus better on that part of their game. Yesterday, an error clearly cost the Rays a shot at winning the game. The day before, the Rays were practically giving away runs to the Yankees. As the injured start to return, the Rays need to tighten up their defense. The starting pitchers need to know that they can trust the guys behind them.
9. Angels in the outfield. I think the Los Angeles Angels series will be a big measuring stick for the Rays. Like the Rays, the Angels are hovering around .500... playing catch up in their division. The Rays have had problems with other AL West teams this season, lets see if they can shut the door on a team in a similar situation as they are.
10. More Joe Dillionaire. It's not too late to jump on my Joe Dillionaire bandwagon. The guy is a stud and should be playing every day. Forget the Gabes, we want more Dillionaire!
Remember, Father's day is less than 2 weeks away and if you want to find the Rays fan in your life a good gift... check out my Father's day gift ideas post.
Also, don't forget to join in on the twitter fun. You can find me at www.twitter.com/m_weber. That's where you'll find all my Rays' musings as they come in my head.