Does Jobu Make Housecalls?


 
Chris O’Meara/AP

I now know how it feels to be “that other guy”. You know the one I am talking about right now. The “guy” who somehow does it right, works his tale off doing his job day after day, dating the right girl for him, polishing up that 1969 Camaro hood to a shine like the Sun, then as Jackie Gleason once said: “Pow!, right in the kisser.” He gets smacked in the teeth by reality. And just like that, he has to rebuild and recharge to pull himself off that canvas to answer the bell.


It is that same sense of realism that the Tampa Bay Rays are facing right now. Three games ago no one in their right mind could of, or would have predicted this horrific outcome. Some of the Red Sox Nation in attendance who came down to root for their visiting team never envisioned something like this series sweep when they boarded those flights from Logan to TIA. If this series were to emulate a boxing match, it would have been called by the referee in the third round by TKO. It was a classic Northeastern beat down plain and simple.

The Rays have to immediately rebuild after their customary 30-minute grace period to try and refocus and re-institute Rays Manager Joe Maddon’s main mantra of the 2010 season. This team needs to rise from this horrid beating the Red Sox put to them and push that anger and emotion within their offense and reclaim what is rightfully theirs……A first place squad doesn’t give up, doesn’t lay down, and doesn’t show fear…It stands tall, even if bloody and tired, and asks for more please.

This Boston series was a vivid reality check for the Rays that their starting pitching might “set the tone” for their rise this season, but it can just as quickly be their slope to falling too. The offense can not afford to take a single inning, a plate appearance, or a single swing off, or the offensive machine could break down just as it did the last three nights. Even with the power display put on by Rays slugger Carlos Pena with a long solo blast that came only feet short of the Trop’s back wall in that first contest, only five other hits sprinkles Tropicana Field’s turf during that initial Monday loss.

The Rays early Spring mantra of GTMI, or “Get The Man In” fell on hard times as the Rays went 1-6 with RISP, and stranded another 5 souls on the base. This statistic alone firmly stuck the fork deep into the Rays flesh and the fact the Red Sox pitching staff sent 17 consecutive hitters back to the dugout after Jason Bartlett’s double in that same contest , it twisted the fork harder into the Rays underbelly for their first loss to Boston this season.

GTMI had become instantly an anemic message of CWGaH (Can We Get a Hit). As the Rays fans walked to our cars for that long exhausting ride home after Monday night’s loss, we instantly gave that night’s win to the Red Sox knowing the “terrible two’s” ,Rays starters James Shields and Matt Garza were throwing the next two nights. With that great thought and vision of victories in our minds, that first loss seemed easier to swallow. The intense bitterness of that loss seemed less salty and diluted with the possibilities of “Big Game” and ” El Diablo” getting redemption for “WD-40″. A betting man would have wagered his salary easily on the duo with a high probability of a “W” on the left side of the Rays record column. Losing either of those match-ups would have entered his mind as he pluck down his wagers.

 
Mike Carlson/AP

Tuesday night, Shields posted a “quality start”, and set the tone by only giving up 4 hits and 2 runs over 8 innings,. But the odd mixture of an ever widening strike zone by Home Plate Umpire Bob Davison and the trickery of Boston starter Jon Lester taking that extra 6 inches off the plate proved to be the Rays recipe for disaster. Lester gave up only a single to Rays Designated Hitter Willy Aybar in the fourth inning to spoil his night. The Rays again were faced with another “slumber of the lumber” epidemic as the Rays went 0-5 with RISP, and stranded 7 Rays on base in their second loss in as many nights.


The invisibility of Maddon’s offensive mantra GTMI, or “Get The Man In” might have become a broken tooth on the spoke of the Rays hitting machine and it brought the whole she-bang to a screeching halt. When the Rays have shown their offensive pratfalls this season, the team has stranded countless men on base, or forgotten where those bases were located. Without a solid smack, slap or a tickle off the Rays bats, this team will feel that bitter taste of losing again. And we knew after that second smack down this second divisional series would go to Boston. But we still felt strong in knowing the Rays were sending their own demon to the mound for the finale, and he could already taste the sweetness.

And in this final swing at the Red Sox you knew that something had to give for the Rays. Something had to be discovered or uncovered that had boosted the Rays chances at failure the previous two nights. But just as quickly as the sixth Red Sox hitter, you saw Garza instantly show the frustration behind the mound, and some sort of implosion was definitely on the horizon. After that first blast by Adrian Beltre, Garza seemed to second guessing his strategy and try to change his team’s outcome in one sweep. Garza’s 5 walks and 3 home runs allowed last night showed his mind along with his control was not as sharp as the whiskers on his chin.

 
Steve Nesius/AP

Garza was having his own purgatory moments on the mound, the Rays hitters found a reoccurring theme of inconsistent hitting. They did string together an early scoring opportunity in the second inning after Blalock lead-off with a single. Blalock then advanced along the base paths and came across the plate on Reid Brignac’s grounder and tie the game and gave the Rays a boost of renewed confidence.
A second costly mistake to Beltre, which quickly deposited 388 feet into the Leftfield stands and the Red Sox quickly took this game solidly out of the Rays grasp.

As the game ended the frustration and the angst was visible from the Rightfield stands as the Rays players began their trip towards the dugout tunnel to the Rays clubhouse. Some chins were down and you wonder what the final remedy or cure will be for this anemic offense situation to rebound. For immediately on Thursday night, the Chicago White Sox will venture into Tropicana Field and after seeing the Rays recent struggles, they might also be smelling fresh blood.


The Rays need to resoundingly wake up their slumbering offense that went a combined 1-14 with RISP in their Wednesday night debacle. Soon the mantra of GTMI might be dead in the water if the team doesn’t institute a lifesaving move to save this home stand. People will point fingers from the stands towards certain Rays players who have failed to connect or contribute lately, but the stark reality is all 25 members of this Rays team are accountable right now. You win as a team, and you lose as a team.

Somehow some way this spell of offensive despair has to end. Hopefully it is a simple attitude or minor adjustment and again we can cheer and say hello to victory soon for the Rays. Either that, or is it going to be a long, long Summer, and we do not want that!

 

12 Comments

It’s a time that will see the Red Sucks nation beaming thinking they have a great team, okay it’s not bad, but reality is both the Phillies and the Rays gave the games away… as you say the time is here the turnaround is eminent and the high’s last a lot longer than any lows this year…

-peter
Phillies Outside

Ouch! But that just serves as a reminder the Sox aren’t going to make things for anybody. They’ve quietly been hitting the leather off the ball. Red Sox Nation shows up in bunches, don’t they? I laugh at the way they take over Baltimore…like locusts. I would be one of them. LOL
But alas my friend….it will be a long summer. That’s Baseball. Wouldn’t have it any other way.
mike
http://thebrooklyntrolleyblogger.mlblogs.com/

I feel your pain, Renegade. The Phillies are suffering through an offensive drought right now as well. Very frustrating!
Sue
Rants, Raves, and Random Thoughts

Peter,
Everyone at the top of their divisions have had a weird couple of days. Just ask the Twins.
To lose 1 to the New York Yankees is not as sad as seeing two slip throught your fingers tips…..even with a “nature delay” (squirrel).
But every team goes throught this epidemic at some point in their year.
Maybe getting it out of the way early (hopefully) will be the key to the race towards those coveted spots…..

Rays Renegade

http://raysrenegade.mlblogs.com

Mike,
Back from 1998-2007, the Rays used to try and play the spoiler to the New York Yankees or Boston Red Sox near the end of the season.
We used to do everything in our power to either give them a few losses or try and make their confidence levels decrease right before they headed into the playoffs.
But that is what you want from your club. To fight the good fight everynight, no matter if you are in contention or fighting to stay out of the cellar.
You want to see the spirit and the determniation of the boxer…to fight until…knockout or victory.

Rays Renegade

http://raysrenegade.mlblogs.com

I think Rays fans still have the right to worry even though they boast the best team in the game right now (despite some hiccups of late). Still, it is my hope that Rays fans refrain from acting like Yanks/Red Sox fans who are so spoiled from winning that they flinch at any negative sign, no matter how small. The Rays are the best. I think they’ll be fine… until the Cardinals beat them in the World Series :-)
–Jeff
http://redstatebluestate.mlblogs.com/

Sue,
Starting to think there is a closer parity than people imagine this year in baseball.
Like the NFL, this season it seems that even the high payroll and low payroll clubs have a common bond and alliance to winning close games.
That is good for the sport, and great for the small markets teams to seel to their fan base as progress.
Always an adventure this game of baseball.

Rays Renegade

http://raysrenegade.mlblogs.com

Ouch that was bad :( well we all get swept every now and then! Just a reminder that we can’t win all the time! The red sox are still a good team and so are the rays! AL east is beast for a reason ;)

Best of luck

http://mimi.mlblogs.com

p.s. haven’t seen Joe maddon and an ump like that so close in awhile! Oh my goodness they were going at it!

Jeff,
So far it has been safe to travel over the Sunshine Skyway bridge and not have to worry about carloads of Rays fans jumping to their deaths….but it is early.
We are a little more liad-back and subtle compared to some of those crazed B-bonnetted bunch and the pinstripe crews.
But a few of the bandwagoners’ have already thrown up a white flag, but they are premature as usual.

Rays Renegade

http://raysrenegade.mlblogs.com

Mimi,
I do not think you would ever get a hand up at a MLB Owners meeting to have someone want to come into this division.
It can be tough, and that actually makes the teams better suited going into September and October.
When you have a great competitve division, you breed the best out of your guys and get them into Playoff mode a bit quicker than some divisions.
Always fun to watch the scoreboard with the division foes we have…..some interesting scores pop up nightly.

Rays Renegade

http://raysrenegade.mlblogs.com

Mimi,
Gabe Kapler was also questioning the balls and strikes before Carl Crawford went all medival on Home Plate Umpire Bob Davidson.
And if you know anything about Kapler, it takes a bit of work to ruffle his feathers at all.
Possible Mentos commercial in the future for that intimate moment between Davidson and Rays Manager Joe Maddon.

Rays Renegade

http://raysrenegade.mlblogs.com

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