The Tampa Bay Rays began a 7 game road trip to New York and Boston last Monday, after completing a 5-2 homestand. The Rays were optimistic that this team was going to be different. They would play better situational defense. The timely hitting would be there. This bullpen was going to be better that what we saw last year.
The rays went 1-6 on this road trip, and honestly looked like the team last June that lost 22 out of 25 from June 10th to the all-star break. Brad Miller dropped a ball at second that allowed the an to continue, and the Red Sox went on to score three runs which was the difference in that game as the Rays lost 4-3.
The Rays have seemed to find a bit of life at home as Matt Andriesse had his best game as a pro in a 5-1 win on Tuesday night. Wednesday night we all saw something we may never see again for a long time. Gold glove CF Kevin Keirmaier misssed a ball hit to home which allowed three runs to score as the Rays edged the Tigers 8-7.
Even with their .500 record, the Rays have a lot of flaws right now. Let’s start with the bullpen. When you have one of the lowest payrolls in baseball, you can’t afford to bring in top notch receivers, you have to settle for the guys that have bounced around their entire careers or trying to come back from career-threatening injuries. Jumbo Diaz, Tommy Hunter (who has been better than I thought he would be), and Shawn tolleson were the main additions to the bullpen this off-season. Again the low budget Rays not willing to spend money to get quality relievers. Brad Boxberger will not be back till June, maybe the first of July. Austin Pruitt a rookie who made the club out of spring training had his first solid outing yesterday against the Tigers. Prior to that he had given up 10 runs in 5 innings.
Manager Kevein Cash has added more drills designed to help out with situational defense. These drills are done right before batting practice every day, but the Rays are still making silly errors.
Situational hitting, especially on the road trip has been non-existent. The Rays right now are on pace to lead the league in striking out. Evan Longoria continues to be a non-factor at crunch time as has the majority of the team. When you need a hit, no one can seem to deliver consistently. Very frustrating.
Last year the Rays were equally as bad at home as on the road. This year they are finding ways to win at home and can’t seem to win on the road. 7-2 at home and 1-6 on the road. We’ve still got a long way to go in this season. I’m hoping the Rays stay competitive and can be a factor in the AL East when its all said and done.