At first, it just seemed like an odd quirk when John Jaso popped out of the dugout in the bottom of the first inning and strode to the plate with nothing in his hands. Dewayne Statas had a laugh, Brian Anderson made a comment about Colby Lewis' pitch sequencing in response to the bizarre move, and everyone believed it was a mere prank by Jaso.
But then, as batter after batter came to the plate with no bat in their hands, the laughter stopped abruptly. What happened to the Rays' bats? Were they stolen? Misplaced? Was this some elaborate "extra 2%" move by the front office to increase the Rays' walk rate? A philosophical statement by Maddon on the futility of success? What?
"I don't know what happened," said the Rays' skipper after the game, "We went into the clubhouse after batting practice, and when we came back, all the bats had disappeared. We tried everything to find some at the last minute - we tried borrowing some from the Rangers, whittling some out of chair legs in the clubhouse, using broom handles instead. Nothing worked, and the Rangers weren't willing to deal, even when we offered to trade them Sonny in return."
Undaunted by the Rays lack of potency, David Price went out and pitched a superb game: 8 IP, 3 ER, 1 BB, 8 K. He looked grim on the mound, realizing he needed to be near perfect to allow the Rays a chance to win, and he blew 95+ MPH gas by the Rangers all afternoon long. All in all, he generated 19 swinging strikes on 100 fastballs, only using his off-speed pitches on rare occasions. As he admitted after the game, he was pissed.
"I thought I had really good stuff today, good enough to get my first win against the Rangers, but nooo, someone had to go and get our bats stolen," Price spit out, "I thought maybe they'd be able to get a run off a walk and some wild pitches, but once I realized that whoever had stolen our bats had also stolen Jaso's arm, I knew I was screwed."
Jaso allowed five stolen bases on the game and had one passed ball, making Price's already difficult task all the tougher. He was unavailable for comment after the game, as he'd been duct-taped and locked in his locker until, "...he says he's sorry."
The exact whereabouts of the Rays' bats is still unknown, but a police investigation is underway. Eyewitness accounts point to a man that pulled up outside the Trop with an AK-47 around 30 minutes before gametime. If you see such a man - reportedly driving a 1967 Camaro - please report him to the authorities immediately.