"Up and down" is the simple way to describe the Tampa Bay Rays over the past week. If there was one constant for the Rays over the last seven days, it was the lack of offense. In their three victories since last Monday, the Rays scored a whopping four runs and held the opponent to only one run combined.
In the four games they lost? The Rays were outscored 30-10. Top that off with losing both Matt Moore (for the season) and Alex Cobb (4-6 weeks) and this is probably a week most Rays fans want to forget.
Full disclosure: I was actually supposed to have this article written yesterday, before last night's game. Thanks to last night's performance by the Rays, it's like I did anyway because let's face it...there was nothing positive about that game.
1B James Loney
(3 extra base hits, GW RBI against KC on 4/8 and CIN on 4/12)
Thank goodness for James Loney. Without him this week, the Rays probably wouldn't have won more than one game. Loney came up huge in clutch moments with a single in the top of the ninth against the Royals on April 8 and a solo homer on April 12 against the Reds.
Loney continues to be a consistent presence in the lineup. Although his average isn't where he'd like it to be (.227), he managed to get those big hits. Loney's too good of a hitter for average to stay below .250, but the Rays will need him to keep producing in clutch moments if they want to weather this storm of pitching injuries. So far he's doing that and it's been a big lift to a team that's desperately looking for some momentum.
2B Ben Zobrist
(8 hits, 3 HRs, 6 RBI, 6 BB)
Despite the Rays offense struggling for most of the week, Zobrist had himself a week at the plate after a sluggish start to the season.
Zobrist jacked three home runs, including two-homer game in a 12-4 loss against the Reds. In addition to the power, Zobrist showed great patience at the plate, drawing six walks in seven games. Much like Loney, Zobrist will need to keep his hot hitting going throughout the next week. He's one of the team leaders and he can certainly help pick the team's energy back up with his play on the field.
RB Grant Balfour
(3 saves, 4 K, 1 hit allowed)
Despite the rocky appearance against the Reds on April 8, Balfour converted all three of his save opportunities this past week in three one-run victories.
His control was erratic at times, issuing four walks over the past week, including three in one appearance against the Reds, but at the end of the day Balfour got the job done and that's all that matters as a closer. He bounced back the next day with a less eventful outing that only took 14 pitches to get through in securing the Rays 1-0 victory.
SP David Price
(1 W, 8.1 IP, 4 hits allowed, 10 K, 1 ER)
Price pitched a near-perfect game on Friday night against the Reds. The lefty was dominate, striking out 10 Cincinnati hitters and giving up only one earned run on four hits.
The lone mistake for Price came in the top of the ninth against Joey Votto when the Reds first baseman took a pitch to the opposite field for a solo homer. The home run ruined Price's chance of a complete game shutout, but certainly didn't diminish the outstanding outing from the 2012 Cy Young.
As one of the Reds television broadcasters perfectly summed up on Friday, "It looks like Price has barely broken a sweat tonight."
SP Alex Cobb
(1 W, 7.0 IP, 0 ER, 4 hits allowed, 5 K, 0 BB)
Alex Cobb is expected to be out for 4-6 weeks with an oblique injury, but his performance on Saturday before news of the injury was announced helped land him a spot on Brightest Rays of the Week.
Not to be outdone by Price the night before, Cobb put together a stellar outing, giving up only four hits and no earned runs in seven shutout innings. The right-hander has now thrown 14 consecutive shutout innings dating back to April 6 against the Texas Rangers.
As usual, Cobb showed impressive control, issuing no walks while throwing 59 of his 87 pitches for strikes. As evidenced by the outing, the Rays will need him to heal from that oblique injury as quickly as possible if they expected to keep pace with the rest of the AL East.