The Rays Tank: Let's just skip the sixth inning today?

Longo needs a hug. - Ed Zurga

The missing offense has returned, but the pitching has taken a leave of absence.

Well, forget the offensive woes, the problem with the Rays the past few nights has been due to the pitching. In Steve's recap last night, he accurately described the reoccurring theme in games this year: the team takes a lead early on in the game, but the pitching staff then hands the lead right away.

The past two games were the kind that make you cringe, rant on Twitter, then shut them off in disgust. Remember the team of just a few years ago who excelled in the late innings of games? Now, the mid-to-late innings, particularly the sixth*, seem to be the cause of grief. Yesterday Michael mentioned the fact that this year's bullpen has under performed projections, with a majority of the blame going to Kyle Farnsworth, Jake McGee and Fernando Rodney.

* Tuesday's game: four runs given up, Wednesday's game: five runs given up, let's not try for six today

Imploding has been a theme among Rays pitchers these past few nights, as McGee entered the game with a two run lead last night after Jeremy Hellickson went five innings, giving up nine hits, four runs, and one walk. McGee allowed five runs off only five hits and one walk, after Alex Cobb gave up five hits and four runs in a nine pitch span to give the Royals the lead the previous night. Brandon Gomes didn't do much in relief of Cobb, going only one inning and giving up three hits, three runs and one walk.

Back to the offense for a moment -- this team has now scored a home run in 16 consecutive games, a franchise record. They notched 13 hits and eight runs in last night's loss, and have had five plus hits in every game since April 25th. Lately, they're scoring early, but without the pitching to back up the run support, it doesn't do much.

Maybe one day soon the offense, defense and pitching will coordinate their schedules and allow for a few games without swearing.

Maybe.

And maybe that's a tad dramatic, considering the Rays racked up 19 hits and 10 runs in a gem from Matt Moore against the White Sox only a few days ago, but after these past two games, it feels more like a decade.

Yes, it is only May 2nd. We are still in the range of small sample sizes, it's only a month into the season, the All Star Break is still two months away. Time to panic? Not yet. But, if this bullpen continues, we'll be having queasy flashbacks of ‘09 "relief."

And hey, positive note: we haven't been no-hit or perfectoed yet.

Bad weather is predicted in Kansas City, with the chance of today's 2:10 PM ET start between Roberto Hernandez and Ervin Santana seeming unlikely. With last night's loss the Rays are 2-4 thus far on this road trip, 12-15 on the season, and they'll head into Denver tomorrow facing a Rockies team currently leading the NL West at 17-11.

Links:

- Desmond Jennings covered a ridiculous amount of ground to

- Feel good story of 2013? Evan Gattis overcame a pretty troubled past to be the current starting catcher for the Braves.

- Is the 200-win pitcher an endangered species?

- Tommy Lasorda doesn't give a damn about Gangnam Style.

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