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State Of The Rays

Posted By Brian Joyce On Apr 16 2012 @ 6:33 pm In Tampa Bay Devil Rays | No Comments

The Rays got off to a quick start this season  by sweeping the Yankees in their first three games. They quickly cooled off after dropping two in Detroit. I know it’s early, but the Rays starting pitching isn’t living up to its reputation. While the starting pitching is getting pounded (they’ll turn it around) the bullpen has been a disaster if your name is not Fernando Rodney. During the first seven games of a ten game road trip the bullpen has been getting torched. So far this year in the eighth inning the Rays have been outscored 18-0 and all of those 18 runs have been scored on this current road trip.  If Tampa Bay wants to make any noise in the American League and contend for a playoff spot the bullpen must improve.

Today, James Shields was one out away from a complete game shutout and the Rays needed this one bad before they headed off to Canada to play the Blue Jays for a three game series that will wrap up this ten game road trip. Shields showed everyone today he is the ace of this staff with his performance today in Boston. For the moment, Shields stopped the bleeding.  In the three previous games, Boston’s bats erupted for 33 runs on 39 hits including seven Home Runs against Rays pitching. It was vital for Shields to step it up today and put an end to the Rays five game losing streak which he did.  Going into this game today, Shields had horrible career numbers at Fenway Park, 1-9 with a 6.75 era, but all of that was a distant memory. When you’re an ace you need to bring your best stuff when your team is desperate for a win and the Rays were the definition of a desperate team today.

Tampa Bay scored the only run of the game on a bases loaded walk with Evan Longoria ( 1 for 16 in the series, 2 RBI) at the plate and scored Sean Rodriguez. Red Sox starter Daniel Bard making his second big league start issued seven free passes and was charged with the loss. Today against Bard, the Rays were 0 for 7 with runners in scoring position. Tampa Bay squandered too many scoring chances and let Bard and Boston hang around. With this win today by the Rays, Joe Maddon notched his 500th career win as a manager and all of those wins have been with Tampa Bay. His first win was back in early April of 2006 when they were the Devil Rays. Maddon joins Ron Gardenhire, Mike Scioscia, Jim Leyland, and Charlie Manuel to have at least 500 wins with their current team.

Looking Ahead: Jeff Niemann will face Toronto ace Ricky Romero tomorrow night in Toronto. The second game of this three game series will match David Price who went only three innings in his last start and he will face Brandon Morrow who was one out away from tossing a no hitter against Tampa Bay back in the summer of 2010. The series will conclude on Thursday with Jeremy Hellickson on the hill against flame thrower Henderson Alvarez. If you have not seen Alvarez yet make sure you do. He’s only twenty one but he throws gas. Of course, the Rays will feel at home when they go to Toronto because of all the empty blue seats.

 

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