Saturday, June 20, 2009

Not enough innings

Maybe the Rays problems these last few days comes down to one problem: Not enough innings.  I know they play things a little different in the National League, but the Rays don't seem to realize that both leagues play nine innings.  For the 3rd game in a row, an early inning power surge against the Rays starters turns in to a hole the offense just can't climb out of.  For the 3rd game in a row, the Rays painfully, slowly, try to mount a comeback but come up just short.  The only conclusion I can draw is maybe there's not enough innings.

The Rays are playing much like they have the entire season.  As soon as they gain some traction (like a 6 game win streak), they turn around and give back what they gained.  The All-Star break is right around the corner and time is running out on the Rays.  Right now, they're closer to last place than they are 1st place. There isn't much margin for error in the AL East and if they're going to become contenders for a playoff spot, they're going to have to get going.  Maybe they used up all the magic last year.  Maybe the April start was too much of a hole to climb out of.  We'll just have to wait and see.

Here are some things I noticed:

  • More long ball from the starters.  I guess I wasn't really surprised that Andy Sonnanstine figured out a way to give up a monster homer at the homer graveyard better known as Citi Field.  Not only that, it was a 3-run blast by a guy (Brian Schneider) who hadn't hit a homer. And even worse than that, he hit it to the long part of the park and proved to anyone who thought you can't hit a homer that it is, indeed, possible.  The early homer has really hurt the Rays in this 3-game losing streak.
  • Slow offense.  The offense hasn't seemed in sync these last few days.  Granted, there has been some flashes of brilliance, but it's not coming together for some reason.  Evan Longoria and Carlos Pena seem to be striking out in big at-bats.  Carl Crawford seem to have cooled off, as well.  While the Rays may have questionable pitching in some places, the offense is the part of the game that needs to stay at a high level.  Four run leads in the 3rd inning should not be insurmountable.  If they keep looking that way, the starters are going to press more.
  • There's still time.  The Rays can still salvage this road trip this weekend.  A .500 road trip through 2 National League parks is not all that bad.  If they can win the next two, and then come back to the Trop for some home cooking... they may be able to gain some ground.
  • No hole.  The St. Pete Times said this morning that Stu Sternberg says he doesn't see any glaring hole on this team that they can improve themselves dramatically by bringing someone in. That means don't expect the Rays to make any big moves over the next few weeks.  I tend to agree with Sternberg.  While I do think the Rays could use a closer, I don't think that would really add too many wins at this point.  The team needs to concentrate on getting the best out of the talent they have.  Plus, a healthy Scott Kazmir could be a big boost to this rotation.
  • Pat Burrell a bust?  I was having a discussion with Matty from St. Pete yesterday and he posed the question: At what point do we have to consider Pat the Bat a bust?  I'm not sure it's time, especially considering the injury, but I'd really like to see those hot streaks I heard so much about in the off-season.

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