Red Sox 7, Devil Rays 5.
10 straight losses as we near the All-Star break. At one point this season the Devil Rays had three of the ten worst starting pitchers in baseball in their rotation and yet they were only 4 games below The Charlie Hough Line (.500). Since, then two of the three members of The Axis of Evil (Jae Seo and Casey Fossum) have been banished and the third (Edwin Jackson) has pitched better (although he continues to pitch just well enough to lose). The result? The 2007 Tampa Bay Devil Rays now sit 17 games below .500 with the worst record in the AL and the schedule doesn’t get any easier. In the second half the Rays play 50 of 75 games against teams with winning records or teams named the New York Yankees.
So what happened? Injuries happened (BJ Upton, Rocco Baldelli, Akinori Iwamura). Idiocy happened (Elijah Dukes). And the rest of the lineup appeared to forget how to score runs. The Rays are 10-21 since the beginning of June. But while the pitching has seemed to be better outside of the usual bullpen implosions, the Rays offensive numbers have actually improved since the beginning of June.
In April (5.04) and May (4.27) the Rays scored 4.65 runs per game. Since the beginning of June that number is 4.69. The team batting average has only fallen from .260 in April/May to .259 in June/July. The power numbers are off from 1.18 HR/game in April/May to 0.88 per game in June/July. However, the teams OBP is up slightly with averages of .324 in April, .332 in May, and .333 in June.
If it is not the offense, than it must be the pitching that has gotten worse…right? Well outside of the three occasions in June in which the bullpen blew a 5+ run lead, the pitching has indeed been better. In April (6.78) and May (5.73) the Rays allowed 6.10 runs per game. Since the beginning of June, the number is down to 5.81. Not good, but definitely better.
So why are the Rays suddenly back to being the laughing stock of baseball? We don’t have an answer. Maybe it is a string of bad luck and are better than they have played the past 6 weeks. Maybe the team was playing above themselves for the first two months of the season and are not a team that should have been playing near-.500 ball. This team will play better, but don’t look for the Rays to sniff .500 again in 2007.
DEVIL RAYS WEBTOPIA…
- In an effort to break Carl Crawford out of a slump that saw his average fall to .281, Joe Maddon moved C. C. up a spot to #2 in the lineup. An 0-4 outing on Tuesday was followed by a 3-5 performance on Wedensday.
- We didn’t think we would have to experience a bullpen without Al Reyes until at least August when Reyes could be traded. But we are going to get a sneak preview for at least the next two weeks as Reyes was placed on the 15-day DL with a mild rotator cuff strain. Lefty Jon Switzer was recalled from Durham to fill the roster spot. Yes, the Rays now have two lefties in the bullpen after starting the season without any.
- Since BJ Upton, began his rehab assignment, he has been doing his best Rocco Baldelli impersonation. In the span of less than a week, he has been fatigued, experienced tightness in his injured quad and ran a fever. As a result he has only played in 2.5 out of 6 games and is now not expected back with the Rays until after the All-Star break.
- Tim Corcoran was transferred to the 60-day DL to make room on the 40-man roster for Juan Salas who was reinstated following his 50-game suspension. Salas was optioned to Durham.
- Martin Fennelly may have summed up the first half in one sentence although the numbers above indicate otherwise.
This team has shown an uncanny and unfortunate knack of not doing two things well at the same time. When they hit, they don’t pitch. When they pitch, they don’t hit