Tuesday, July 7, 2009

10 Things I'd like to see: Throwback Edition

On Saturday night, the Rays will be wearing throwback "Devil Ray" uniforms for turn back the clock night at Tropicana Field.  At first, I was a little appalled at the decision.  But, upon further review, it will be pretty cool to see some of the newer Rays in older Devil Ray uniforms. Let's just hope they don't play that way.  This week is a very important week for the season.

Here are 10 things I'd like to see this week:

1. Starting pitching.  The Rays didn't get too much of that in the Texas series.  Scott Kazmir put on a respectable performance, but David Price and Matt Garza both got knocked around.  The Trop has been a little more kind to our starters, so hopefully they can take advantage.

2. 3-4-5 batters out of the slump.  In case you hadn't noticed, Evan Longoria, Carlos Pena, and Ben Zobrist are all slumping big time.  The 2 All-Stars and the 1 wannabe All-Star are really looking bad at the plate.  Pena, I can excuse a little bit because he's not going to see anything to hit if Longo and Zorilla aren't hitting.  As for those 2, pitchers are making adjustments on them, now they have to make their adjustment. The middle of the Rays order has been a cakewalk for the string of mediocre pitchers the Rays have been seeing.  They need to become murderer's row again.

3. A win streak before the break.  Last year's losing streak before the All-Star break has been well documented. In fact, many of the Rays fans I talked to brought up that streak when I mentioned the Ranger's series.  Last year the Rays were on the road before the break. This year, Rays play their final 6 games before the break at home.  A bit of a reversal.  If we're using last year as a comparison, the last 4 games were the road losing streak, and the next 6 games should be a home win streak.  One other note, the RAys came out of the All-Star break last year with a home staind against Toronto and Oakland at the Trop and went 4-2.

4.  Don't let Toronto back in this.  The Rays did a good job of slowing Toronto down last week and taking over third place.  The New York Yankees helped the cause by taking 3 of 4 from the Jays. However, the Rays debacle against the Rangers didn't allow them to pick up any games on the Jays. In fact, the Jays win over the Yankees yesterday gave them a half-game.  Coming into the Trop, the Jays are only 1 and 1/2 games behind the Rays.  It's a lead the Rays can't afford to give up right now.  A good series and they can start looking toward the Yankees.

5. Don't believe the hype.  The Rays are taking 4 guys to the All-Star game with a 5th on the fan ballot.  I get it.  The Rays are finally getting some national recognition.  However, this is still a young team.  I don't want this team to get it in their head that they can just show up and win game.  The Rangers showed them this week how hard teams are willing to play when facing the defending AL Champs.  Joe Maddon has a very different job at the mid-point of this season. Instead of trying to convince the team to make the final push in the 2nd half, he has to keep them motivated to play at a high level just to get back in this thing.

6.  Concentration on fundamentals.  One noticeable difference between this year's squad and last year's squad is the lack of concentration on defense. Last year's team never would've given up the runs on errors that the Rays gave up against the Rangers.  Errors have come back to haunt the Rays all year.  Those kinds of mistakes come for a lack of concentration.

7.  Beat Oakland. The Rays are 3-4 against the A's heading into this week's series.  Last time I checked, the A's were in last place in the AL West.  There's no excuse for the Rays not to feast on this team before the break.  The Rays need to assert their dominance of the league's bottom feeders.  

8.  A Yankees slump? Is it too much to ask for the Yankees to slump a little before the All-Star break? That team has been red hot over the last couple of weeks.  The used the 4th of July weekend to pull away from both the Rays and the Jays.  The Rays need to keep within a couple of games of the Bronx Bombers to stay in Wild Card hunt.

9. Some doubles.  Watching the Rangers hit doubles all over the ballpark at Arlington made me wish for some Tropicana Field doubles.  I'd like to see the Rays scatter some all over the place and rack up some runs on the Blue Jays.  It won't be easy, the Rays face Roy Halladay on Thursday.

10. An official burning party for the red hats.  I heard yesterday that at least one player (Lance Cormier) made an angry outburst in the Arlington clubhouse over the red hats. I'm not sure if that's true or not, but I've had my own angry outbursts at the red hats. Maybe the Rays should schedule an impromptu burning party of the red hats. It could be a way to effectively exorcise the demons.


Anonymous said...

should'nt #8 be a Red Sox slump? I think that's what is really needed. The Red sox are such an evil team & they shold not be in the playoffs at all! They should finish 3rd. the Yankees can keep winning but the Red Sox should definietly slump. so if you could correct that # 8. :-)

Michael_Rays Rev said...

Last week, I laid out three things the Rays needed to do to get back in. The first was pass the Jays, then pass the Yanks, then pass the Sox. I'm not going to concern myself w/ the Red sox until the Rays can pass the Yankees.

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