Rays Continue Losing in Cleveland
Should I be proud that the Rays “fought the good fight” Sunday, or be more concerned with the silent bats in the lineup. Should I be looking at the starters who imploded at the worst time for the Rays and showed a huge weakspot on our team.
Should I be concerned that we seem to be a bad hitting team against right-handers’ right now. I am going to pick…………. none of the above.
Every team goes though a slump or struggles during the season. We just did it as a team this year compared to other years where we could just do it anytime, and anywhere. It does bother me that Carl Crawford is 0-24 during the last few games. But it is a great sight to also see Eric Hinske go 3-4 with some power. It was even great to see Jonny Gomes hustle around the bases and show that he wants it again. He must have read this blog Sat. night.
This team has risen so far from the ashes, and been so dominating this year that a dip in the road was foreseen and actually predicted by everyone. Most thought it might be a season-ending slump like the New York Mets, or a resurgance like the Houston Astros a few years ago by someone below us right now. Both could still happen, but my money is still on this team fighting to the last day to show they belong at the top.
I was sitting on the couch wathcing Friday night’s game and my girlffriend told me to be nice to Jonny when I wrote about the game. She knew I held a spot for Jonny in my top players mindset and would blast him about his play.
Well, I did blast him, but he also did come out on Sunday and show me he still has that fire and ability to produce and succeed on this squad. For that I am glad he got the message, that he is again fighting for his right to be here. We all know that the Non-Waiver Trade Deadline is closing in on this team. Decisions will be made about players and only the strong will survive the purge.
If Jonny keeps showing that “Pete Rose” hustle, he deserves to still wear the starburst and blue.
Scott Kazmir blasted his teammates the other day about their drive and focus on the team duing this horrible roadtrip. For the record, the Rays went 0-6 on this trip and went from being 5 games ahead of the Boston Red Sox, to looking up at them in the standing.
The losing streak took them out of first place in the AL East. It is a spot they have held for 14 straight days after sweeping the Red Sox at home. During that time, the Rays bats went silient to the tone of hitting .187 during the Cleveland series.
The Rays starting pitching showed holes and breaks in their delivery that had not been seen this season. The Rays starter have been the backbone of this resurgance in the standings. The maturity of the young staff showed the rest of the league that you did not have to have a wily veteran to have a staff fulfill promise and succeed. This starting staff is all under 26 years of age and was playing like a veteran staff before this last road trip.
Getting back to Scott Kazmir. Scott started this game like a man possessed. He seemed to have the weight of the team on his back to end this 6-game losing streak. For such a young age, Kazmir has been the rock on this staff for years.
This season he seemed to have the chance to relax and just pitch instead of have to end losing streaks or put a “W’ on the board for the Rays. Kazmir looked out of place early on in the fatc he might have changed his pitching make-up to finally be a pitcher instead of a hurler. It showed in several instances in the game where the old Kazmir might have just blew it by a guy instead of trying to put a pitch in a certain spot.
This got Kazmir in trouble early in the game on a ball hit to B J Upton. Upton misread the break on the ball in the air and tried to catch it over the wrong shoulder. Casey Blake hit a over the plate change-up out to Upton on the play. In the past, Kazmir would not have tried to force that pitch into his routine. Instead he would have fired a knee high fastball just over the edge of the plate for a strikeout.
Kazmir went 6 innings and collected 7 strikeouts on the night. He seemed to go back to the “old” Kaz and fire them in there after his slider was not breaking well for him. Kazmir threw 104 pitches, and probably took himself out of any pitching in the All Star game on Tuesday.
The AL skipper. Terry Francona will probably only use Kazmir now if he needs a late inning guy after all his other troops have hit the mound.
The Rays only managed 3 hits on Sunday against the Indians. The Rays were rewarded in the 2nd inning by Cleveland for their patient manner at the plate. In the 2nd inning, Indian starter Jeremy Sowers had some critical control problems.
The problems included a balk to move Gomes into scoring position. Gomes stealing 3rd a few plays later, and then 4 straight walks to put the Rays up 1-0 in the game. Sowers continued to struggle in the 3rd with Carlos Pena lining a single to rightfield, then Gomes again walking for the Rays.
Shawn Riggans came on and popped a single to put the Rays up 2-0 and collect his 16th RBI of the year. That would be the last of the scoing for the Rays on Sunday as the Indians normally inept reliever shut the Rays down from the 3rd inning on in the contest.
The Rays had 14 strikeouts on Sunday giving them 694 strikeouts for the year. That ranks them first in the AL, but 8th in the majors this year.
On Wed and Thursday of this week, I will be reviewing the preseason blogs listing the “Top 10 ” things I thought the Rays needed to do to be successful in 2008. Since they are travel days and no games are scheduled, it just felt like thr gith time to see how the Rays have faired on my preseason list.
I look forward to giving the positive stats and results of the first half, and also reporting the pitfalls that might still be in front of this squad.
Have a great time watching the Home Run Derby tonight. I am personally picking the Rangers’ Josh Hamilton to win it all tonight. I think he is just having that kind of year you just want to sit back and watch, knowing he deserves it all.
If I had to take a dark-horse, or someone who might surprise us all, I am going to go with the Philles’ Chase Utley to take afew into the dark night and maybe be the upset in this contest.