Monday, August 10, 2009

Seattle series leaves a sour taste

As many of you know, I'm a regular optimist when it comes to the Rays. The glass is always half full and there's always tomorrow. But, this morning, I'm feeling especially pessimistic about this team's chances of making the playoffs. The "it's early argument" is over. Now, it's time for "it's getting late."

Each time the Rays make a little progress, like sweeping Boston at Tropicana Field, they seem to take leave it on the table and regress just enough to stay in 3rd place.  This weekend was the perfect opportunity to take the wild card position by storm. Instead, a combination of bad luck and bad play keep the Rays at 1 1/2 behind the Red Sox and Rangers.  If anything, the Rays have shown an inability to get over the hump and to the next level.

And if you're wondering where the Rays may end up at the end of the season, look no further than the 2008 New York Yankees.  Last year's Yankees squad was just good enough to be dangerous, but never good enough to get over the hump.  All year they just seemed to hang behind the Red Sox and the Rays. When they got a little traction, something always knocked the back.  They always looked threatening without ever really threatening.  At 111 games last year, the 2008 Yankees were 60-51... the same record the 2009 Rays hold today.

Mathematically it's not over for the Rays, but they're running out of chances.  Teams have to make up ground when they can.  This weekend, the Rays gave up a golden opportunity to a Seattle Mariners team ready to make its own mark on the wild card hunt.

Here are some things I noticed in the Rays 11-2 loss to the Mariners:

  • Will the real Scott Kazmir please stand-up? I like Scott Kazmir. He's probably been my favorite player on the Rays for the past few years. I cannot forget the way he owned batters and the way we counted strikeouts every time he came to the mound.  Like the Rays, Kazmir seems to take a step back every time he gets some success. His pitching is like a microcosm of the season.  The Rays gave him a 2-1 lead, but he could not keep it... giving the runs right back on a Franklin Gutierrez homer. Not Kazmir's brightest day. Rays fans can only hope *yesterday* was the anomaly, not his 2 previous performances.  Like it or not, the Rays need Kazmir this year.
  • Bad luck. One big difference between this year's team and last year's team is plain old luck.  Last year's Rays had it, this year's team doesn't. A perfect example was Pat Burrell's at-bat in the 1st inning. Bases loaded with one out, all PtB has to do is hit the ball hard to the outfield and a run probably scores. Instead, PtB's liner up the middle gets snagged and Evan Longoria gets doubled up.  Rays score 0 in the 1st.  If that ball gets through, it could've been a whole different game.
  • Getaway days. Rays Index pointed out on Twitter after the game that the Rays are 6-13 on road getaway games... 4-13 in their last 17. Something doesn't seem to be working there.  Maddon may want to try something different.
  • Scheduling Seattle. I'm usually not one to complain about scheduling, but how did the Rays get 6 games in Seattle and only 2 games against them at home? 
  • The Angry Pitcher wears out his welcome.  It didn't take long to figure out why Bobby Cox had no more use for the Angry Pitcher in Atlanta. Jeff Bennett really likes to walk guys. If he isn't walking them, he's hitting them. If he isn't hitting them, he's giving up grand slams.  All the walls were trembling in fear after Russel Branyon's homer.
  • Bossman batting 9th.  B.J. Upton doesn't like batting ninth.  In fact, he calls it a "kick in the face." Look, Bossman, I'm going to give you some free unsolicited advice: Keep quiet!  The Rays fan base already dislikes your "work ethic." Spouting complaints about your batting order position isn't going to gain you any friends. In fact, you should model yourself after Jason Bartlett.  Instead of saying anything about his position in the batting order, he just went out and performed. 

1 Comment:

Bud Light said...

BJ is part of the problem with the Rays performance this year..more worried about his personal situation than what the team is doing..
For example, yesterday he's crying to the press about batting 9th and he goes 0 for 4!!!
What help is he???
Last year everyone was focused on winning, not this year..Blame game falls where (who)??

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