After winning two close games to launch the 2021 season in Miami, the Rays have lost a depressing four in a row.
They’ve lost close games. They’ve lost blow-outs. They’ve had games where they have left a frustrating number of men on base, and games where they have hardly gotten anyone on base at all.
They have committed base-running blunders. They have given up key runs on wild pitches, on errors, on plain old bad defense. And some of their pitchers have just been easily hittable.
Not exactly what we expected from the defending American League champions. Is this all because of losing Snell and Morton? Because the 2020 team would not have played like this.
...or would they?
DRaysBay contributor Homin Lee has a good memory; he remembers all the way back to July 2020. Their later success might have erased this from memory, but here’s how the 2020 Rays kicked off their season:
The first 5 away games in 2020 was miserable. That was full of slopiness. They seemed to play like expanded ST and took a time to get used to the games. The current situation is similar to then. I think the #Rays need time until mid-April. pic.twitter.com/HHnGRHN6HF— Homin Lee (@Homein22) April 7, 2021
Their opening homestand went well, but then the team went on the road, playing two games in Atlanta and three in Baltimore (Baltimore!) and losing all of them.
The streak started with a 7-4 loss to the Braves that included a blown lead and two errors. The next day their pitching and defense were good but they could only scatter five hits against Max Fried and the Atlanta bullpen.
The July 31 loss to the Orioles featured a shaky Blake Snell outing and two errors, with the Rays seemingly out of the game from the early innings.
On August 1 however the team seemed to be turning things around. Yes, they fell behind, but a three-run eighth inning tied the game. See, this team still had some fight in them! But that fight didn’t prevent an 11th inning loss.
Oh, and somehow Willy Adames picked up his fourth error of the season. The August 2nd loss featured a sleepy offense and a shaky bullpen.
The 2020 Rays only lost 20 regular season games; five of those losses came in a single, painful week.
I’m not putting this forward as evidence that the 2021 Rays will likewise find their groove and finish the year with a .667 winning percentage. But it is a reminder that any team can have a terrible week.