Rays Have Engine Troubles

 

 

Something last night just seemed off. There was this weird vibe in the air that brought you to an immediate sense of complacency. That for some reason it just wasn’t going to be enough no matter what happened, that the end result was already predestined even before Tampa Bay Rays starter David Price’s first pitch. Sure you can throw the obvious roadblock up that the thunderstorm bellowing it’s wind and rain outside Tropicana Field made an immediate impact when the lights dimmed inside But the reality is it just postponed the obvious for about 20-some minutes.


The Rays came out totally flat and produced only one run on a night when their young pitcher was going for a Rays franchise record 15th victory. It should have been a night where all cylinders were cranking loud and proud, but for some reason, the usual V-8 Rays engine was sputtering and gasping for even a base hit or a reason to stay positive. And that is not what happens to teams that want to play deep beyond the 162 game mark. Sure there was the late rally that has been a consistent trademark of the “Comeback Kids” Rays for a long time, but in the extra frames, that passion also seemed to be flushed like the rapid rain waters funneling outside the Trop.

With usual Rays component Ben Zobrist again in the Rays line-up. All night long the Rays seemed to be one click, one swing or even one second slower than they needed to be to best the Minnesota Twins. Even the difference of two inches to the west side of the leftfield foul post produced a moment that should have gave everyone within the Trop a sense of impending drama and heartbreak. But even as they fought with their engine down a cylinder, they evened the score at 1-all and gave it a fighting chance, but it was not enough. For the second time since their June 20th 13-inning contest in Baltimore, the Rays ended up on the wrong end of a extra inning affair.

Immediate blame was cast towards Rays reliever Lance Cormier, who was also the losing pitcher in that June 20th late inning loss, but Cormier was definitely pitching on fumes after throwing a 30-pitch side session for that night’s Rays contest. Those 30 pitches combined with his 3-inning total of 59 pitches pushed him to almost 90 pitches thrown by Cormier in less than 4 hours time…or a usual Rays starting pitcher’s pitch count before 2010. It almost seemed like the Rays Coaching staff was hoping and praying that Cormier could put his finger into every possible dyke leak after the 9th inning and plug them long enough for the Rays to fix their sputtering engine and take the game.

 
Mike Carlson/AP

Credit the Rays for their ninth inning rally to even play beyond the initial innings, but after that, the Rays machine just seemed to shut itself down for the night. Two former Durham Bulls helped the Rays get their tying run in the ninth inning as Evan Longoria doubled to lead-off the inning. Matt Joyce hit a screaming ball to right field that advanced Longoria to third base. Dan Johnson, who has been up as a offensive replacement while Carlos Pena’s injured foot ligament heals, singled to right to drive in his first Rays RBI of 2010. All done on the watch of newly acquired Twin’s closer Matt Capps, who lost his chance to save the game by allowing the Rays run on only five pitches.


Five pitches decided the night for the Rays. Five consecutive pitches brought the game into extra innings and set-up Cormier to again be the fall guy for a lack of Rays offense. At least in the June 20th contest it was a 11-10 loss and both teams had their offensive units in power mode, while last night it seemed termites had invaded the Rays bat rack for most of the game. Pity, because Price deserved a better result from his teammate last night. Price deserved his team to be on -point and hunting for bear to give the young pitcher a franchise first 15-game winner. It should have been a night of celebration into the wee hours, not still playing the same game until around midnight.

This is not the stuff that makes a championship team. A champion fights until the last out with gusto and bravado of no tomorrow. Losses like this come back to haunt a team in the end by not mustering the stamina to sustain a offensive attack. The Rays offense went 1 for 11 with runners in scoring position. Last night the Rays totally forgot their mantra of “Get The Man In”, instead it turned into making the opposition’s pitcher look like the All Star, not Price. And that will not work over the next two months . Losing games you are suppose to win is not enough now. This series the Rays had the Twins by the throat and never administered that chokehold needed by a champion.

 
Mike Carlson/AP

The instruments are in the Rays toolbox to fine tune this team and get this Rays team motor purring like a fierce cat right away. And a 8-2 home stand with one game to play would make most teams happy as a clam, but most teams are not trying to fight toe-to-toe with the New York Yankees right now. The Rays need to again gain that mojo, that swagger, that “Rays Way” of thinking that propelled them to 67 wins before tonight. The Rays have now conjured up three consecutive winning seasons, and the sky is still the limit for 2010 to exceed all previous Rays teams, if they again fight to the last out.

Hopefully this Rays team is not seeking an excuse or a person to take responsibility for last night’s loss. The real explanation for this defeat can be seen in every mirror inside every Tampa Bay locker.

This Rays team as a whole has to take this loss equally on their own chins and get up again in less than 12 hours and fight, or be left behind in the carnage. The sputtering Rays offensive machine doesn’t need an overhaul, doesn’t need a modification, it only needs to have all eight cylinders cranking away with the same objectives, goals and emotions. Otherwise, this season could quickly be headed to an early end and an unfortunate trip to the junk pile.
 

12 Comments

Holy smokes! You really did put us in your profile pic! With our teams so close in the standings and jockeying for first place, it makes sense. We’re in this together!

http://janeheller.mlblogs.com

Jane,
I always do what I say I am doing…just a bad personality trait of mine.
It is going to be fun to start counting down the numer for either of our teams to clinch a spot in the 2010 Playoffs. Not sure I am completely feeling the “experts” saying our two teams could fight it out in the ALCS…We still have 7 fights between us first before the season is even over.

Rays Renegade

http://raysrenegade.mlblogs.com

and today it was a upper catwalk that caused the Rays to have less than pure thoughts…. it’s tough when the ball park comes back to bite ya….

-peter

Phillies Outside

Ah complacency is never a good thing. It doesn’t even look like it’s happening when it does. I think the Rays have what it takes to win AL East although the Yankees should never be underestimated. It’s going to be a tight race that everyone’s interested in!

Ah I know the feeling of your team just shutting down completely. (Uhm swept by the Orioles? Sigh..) I’m sure that sooner or later the team will pick themselves up again. The Rays are too talented of a team not to.

http://mimi.mlblogs.com

Peter,
It is just karma coming back and saying “hello” to the Rays.
We put a uniformed mannequin in the catwalks (D-ring) against the Twins one season. Then had a Carlos Pena pop-up hit a speaker in fair territory and Justin Morneau could not get to it in time to fall to the turf.
So the Rays are 2-1 in the “catwalk wars”, still a winning proposition. It is just a case of our own homefield advantage kissing us goodbye for our 6-game roadtrip/

Rays Renegade

http://raysrenegade.mlblogs.com

Mimi,
It is more a bout with not taking the moment when it presents itself to destroy ot take your enemy. I want to go all militant here and quote Sun Tzu, but I will regress.
The hardest thing to so something is admit you are not as strong as you think and find the way to get that edge back without betraying yourself.
Rays need to re-evaluate, re-energize and re-submit to achieving the team goal.

Rays Renegade

http://raysrenegade.mlblogs.com

Just wanted to wish you guys luck tomorrow. I’m heading to the game, and while some of our most frustrating losses this year have come from you guys, I’d rather you guys win the East as opposed to you know who.

If the Jays win tomorrow, I’ll be happy. If not, it hurts the Yanks so that’s alright with me too.

Now ain’t the time to be comfortable. That’s for sure. Maybe Longo should go around and kick some tail in the clubhouse.
–Jeff
http://redstatebluestate.mlblogs.com/

I hate nights like this! I hate feeling that vibe of a lack of team energy. It’s really just a terrible game to watch, and it’s so obvious. Sloppy baseball is never fun.
Elizabeth
http://redsoxgirl46.mlblogs.com

Norm,
Games in the Rogers Centre against the Ble Jays are always tough. You might remember the 2009 series games in Toronto seemed to always turn on one inning. Not expecting anything less in this 3-game series.
Toronto can be a huge spoiler down the stretch, as they have multiple games aginst the top three in the A L East, and can make some considerable noise as to who get the crown in the end.

Rays Renegade

http://raysrenegade.mlblogs.com

Jeff,
The Rays cane get comfortable after October, and before March, but at this point inm the season, all toes need to be pointing in the same direction, trying to achieve the same goal…..hold a beautiful trophy in late October.
But we all know that is better said than done most days.

Rays Renegade

http://raysrenegade.mlblogs.com

Elizabeth.
Worst thing is it was a Rays home game. Sometimes when you are on the road, there can be a little understanding of the funk or lack of effort. But when you are home, and two of those three losses during that homestand are to a team that will not make a Playoff venture…it sucks rocks.
Guess it could be worse…Could be 2007 and the Rays are already out of contention.

Rays Renegade

http://raysrenegade.mlblogs.com

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