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Monday Morning Rays Recap

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Opening weekend has come and gone and our Rays are still without their first victory of the season.  In fact, the Rays have started 0-3 for the first time in the franchise history.  Is there reason to panic, to adjust our expectations downward,  begin looking to make roster moves to improve the team moving forward, or begin lamenting which player we did or did not sign in the offseason?

It has been said that the major league baseball season is a marathon and not a sprint.  Like a marathon runner,  in order to maintain sanity and intensity, the baseball season may be broken up into smaller increments with different checkpoints established.  I am going to be taking Monday mornings to do a quick recap of the Rays performance over the previous week and examine the upcoming week.   Finally, in order to capture the debates surrounding the team  amongst all of us in GDTs and in Twitter, I've allowed Sternfan1 to submit a "SF1 Blast Off" for inclusion.  With that said, let's take a look at the State of the Rays.

OPENING WEEKEND

Over the past 3 seasons the Rays have a record 158-87 (.645) at home. So with 19 of their first 32 games at home and the Baltimore Orioles, who the Rays have defeated 20 of their last 28 home dates as their opponent, the Rays hoped to get off to a quick start to the 2011 season. The Orioles haven't been completely dominated by the Rays, as they came to Tropicana Field and shut the Rays out twice in a 3 game series from September 27 through 29th while the Rays were trying to keep pace with the Yankees and win the American League East.

The Orioles pitchers held the Rays offense to 1 run on 4 hits in each game, and the Rays pitching staff gave up a key hit in each game.  In Friday's 4-1 loss it was Brian Roberts who hit a triple off David Price to plate 2 runs in the 5th inning, on Saturday it was Brian Roberts that hit a 3-run home run off of Jake McGee in the 8th inning, and on Sunday it was J.J. Hardy who lined a 2-run double off Wade Davis in the seventh inning. The key hits of the series are shown below.

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There were bright spots for the Rays during the series, but it seemed as if everything went the Orioles way. Friday night the umpires blew a call of interference by J.J. Hardy on BJ Upton. Saturdays game featured an outstanding catch by Nick Markakis on a drive by Ben Zobrist which if not caught may have led to a tie game. There were a number of bad performances by the Rays during the three game series, but none of the poor performances overshadow the loss of Evan Longoria to the 15-day disabled list with a strained oblique.  The Rays will try Felipe Lopez and Sean Rodriguez at 3b over the next 3 weeks.  The Rays find themselves in last place with the Boston Red Sox who were swept by the Texas Rangers.  The Blue Jays took two out of three from the Minnesota Twins and the Yankees won two out of three from the Detroit Tigers.  

A NEW WEEK

The Rays have an already much needed off day on Monday and will finish their first home stand of the season with a two game series against the Los Angeles Angels before heading to Chicago for a four game series against the White Sox.  The Angels come into Tampa having lost 3 out of 4 to the Kansas City Royals, but have the top of their rotation ready to face the Rays.  

The most troubling match up for the Rays will be Jared Weaver versus Jeff Niemann on Tuesday night.  The Angels have had Niemans number of his first 6 starts against them as he has posted a record of 1-2 with a 9.38 ERA (24 IP/25 ER) and the Angels have the highest batting average of any team against Niemann at .340.  On Wednesday the Rays will face Dan Haren and counter with Jeremy Hellickson.  Following Wednesday's game, the Rays will head out on their first road trip of the season.  The road trip will be a seven game set with 4 games in Chicago and 3 games in Boston versus the Red Sox.

Thursdays game in Chicago will be a matchup between David Price and former Ray Edwin Jackson, Friday the Rays will send James Shields against John Danks, Saturday the Rays will send Wade Davis against Phil Humber, and on Sunday the Rays will send Jeff Niemann against Gavin Floyd.  

SF1 BLASTS OFF

Good morning, fellow Rays fans.  I'm sure none of us saw this coming: we were swept by a team that we went 15-3 against in our WS year of '08. You can say the problem was offense, but the O's starters outpitched us and two of those guys were named Tillman and Britton. I'm not worried about Longo, Damon, Manny, BJ, or Zobrist, but I am extremely concerned about Jaso, Joyce, and Brignac, who are now key players.

Joe Maddon was about as good as the offense this weekend.  Should Sam Fuld pinch-hit for a major league player in the AL? Really? A journeyman whose skills are speed and BB% vs. a pitcher with pinpoint control?

Also, Jake McGee instead of Farnsworth vs. Roberts, when Farnsworth had owned Roberts previously?

Yes, I'm worried with Longo out 3-4 weeks and Niemann/Hellickson going against Harden/Weaver. I see an 0-5 start at home. Let's hope I'm wrong.