Why can the Rays beat the Yankees? The better question to ask is why can’t the Rays be more competitive against teams with winning records?
In 17 games against the Yankees the Rays have been outscored 95-50 and have lost 12 of 17 to the first place Yankees. No team has had more injuries to their front line players than the Yankees and yet here they are with just over two months left in the season at 62-33 and leading the American League East Division by eight games over second place Tampa Bay.
The bullpen can’t hold a lead and it really doesn’t matter who it is. Jose Alvarado, Diego Castillo, Colin Poche, and whoever else the Rays have tried to use in that shutdown closer role have failed miserably.
Chaim Bloom and the Rays front office have to be looking for some bullpen help at the trade deadline. This bullpen is not good enough to make a deep playoff run and may even end up costing the Rays a wildcard spot if the front office doesn’t address the bullpen.
This bullpen appears to be tired. It looks as if they are out of gas. It may be time to re-evaluate the opener strategy and make sure the bullpen is fresh for the entire season. Every other day the Durham shuffle is operating with someone coming and going because they pitched three innings the day before and the Rays need a fresh arm.
Also the number of base running errors is alarming. The Rays had two runners thrown out trying to pick up an extra base in one game in New York, and this has happened repeatedly throughout the season. The Rays have had more runners picked off bases this season than I can remember. This is fundamental baseball. You would think that this is something that is stressed and worked on in spring training.
At times it looks as if the baserunners have no plan once they get on base. Kevin Cash has called the base running ‘atrocious” and said it he would be addressed. “We’ve got to get better, I have to do a better job.”
The lack of timely hitting has already lost the Rays some games, and this was a problem again in game one of the double header against the Yankees. The Rays loaded the bases in the first inning against Chad Green and came away with zero runs.
This has happened time and time again this season. Runners in scoring position with no outs and the Rays cant get a run across. It is no wonder the Rays record in one runs games is below .500 at 8-11.
The defense seems to be getting worse instead of better. Yandy Diaz misplayed a ball at third against the Yankees and that miscue led to the Yankees getting some runs on the board.
Against these good teams like the Yankees, you cant give them additional opportunities. They are too good. They will make you pay and they did.
With losing three out of four, the Rays have fallen out of the wildcard lead in the American League and are one game behind Cleveland and percentage points behind Oakland. The Rays also hold just a two game over Boston who will be at Tropicana field next week.
The Rays will play the Red Sox in two of the next four series, so the Rays will have a chance to put some distance between themselves and the charging Boston Red Sox in the next two weeks.