The Rays are off to an 0-4 start and the sky is falling. Starting pitching has been spotty at best. The defense looks rough around the edges. And the Hitting--Oh, Woe is me--The Hitting. On pace to score just 1.5 runs per game, this offense has the potential to be one of the worst in Major League history.
Tonight, Jeff Neimann coughed up three runs in just the first inning by allowing hit after hit to an Angels team that just lost three of four games to the Royals. And the Royals don't even have that Greinke guy anymore. Reid Brignac made an error at shortstop--2008 Team MVP Jason Bartlett would have SO made that play. The offense only mustered five hits and Manny Ramirez has already infected the Rays clubhouse with his bad attitude and .063 batting average!
Still, the Rays only lost by two runs. Jeff Niemann recovered from a rough first inning and a few seeing-eye singles to pitch six-plus innings. The MacGyver'd bullpen, made of pine tar and Double Bubble, pitched three scoreless innings and gave the Rays bats a chance to make a comeback after falling behind early in the game.
Yes, the Rays lost tonight and are 0-4 to start the season. The Rays have also faced four starting pitchers with great 'stuff' who all executed their individual game plans exceedingly well. Even Jered Weaver with only 50% strikes (8% swinging) was able to locate when he had to and made some great pitches to stifle the Rays hitters for 6.2 innings. One mistake Weaver did make was a hanging curveball that Sean Rodriguez sent soaring into the left field stands in the third inning. Yes, it was a bad pitch, but I'm encouraged by Rodriguez's ability to capitalize on a good pitcher's mistakes.
I know it's in vogue to go all Chicken Little with the Rays still winless, but here's hoping we can all relax and the Rays can win one tomorrow.
Bullets after the jump.
- If you didn't see the game or catch the highlights on Sportscenter: In the seventh inning, Juan Cruz revealed his former job and a consultant for the Thomas Ian Nicholas classic, Rookie of the Year, when he threw a pitch right into John Jaso's knee-pad, caught the deflection and threw out Maicir Izturis advancing to third. (If you're confused, you can see it here.) He then induced Torii Hunter into a 5-4-3 double play to end the inning. With such a young team, it's nice for the Rays to have such veteran leadership.
- Perhaps this isn't breaking news, but I was thinking that Dan Johnson's walk-up song being the Safety Dance is a little out of place. If anyone should be walking up to that song this season, it should be Johnson, Elliot, Super-Utility Specialist who executed a perfect safety squeeze against the Orioles.
- It's a bit too early for scoreboard watching, but it was fun to see the Yankees blow one last night (courtesy of MFIKY) and while the Rays starting 0-4 is not ideal, at least we have some company in the cellar of the AL East with Red Sox.
- Next game's an afternoon affair: Hellickson's on the mound opposite Dan Haren at 1:10 Eastern. One (win) for the road?