I was listening to Andy Freed yesterday on the Dan Sileo’s morning show, and he hit the nail on the head with the Rays chances this year. He said they didn’t have the hitting to recover from mistakes in a tight game, like Sunday’s, when a combination of B.J. Upton‘s throwing error and James Shields botched pick-off scored Robinson Cano for the game’s only run. That in a nutshell describes the Rays so far this season. Solid defense and pitching definitely wins games, but you still need the bats. “The offense is not even close” said Freed during the interview.
I also liked what he said about Carlos Pena. Dan said that losing Pena hurt the Rays, as “that feared hitter” wasn’t there as protection for Evan Longoria. But Freed nailed it. He was constantly neutralized by left handed pitching, and regardless of the power production, batting under .200 meant he didn’t get nearly enough clutch hits.
The series in New York was easily a split, but the Rays head into a crucial seven game home stand against the Red Sox and Yankee’s, while sitting six games back from the AL East lead. They need to step up in the next seven games and make a statement, that they are a team to be reckoned with.
While it certainly won’t be the end of the season, the Rays absolutely need to win the majority of these games. They need it to get the fans coming back to the stadium after eking out a .500 record at home over the first half of the season. They need to win to make up some ground…falling behind against either team could put them in a hole they may not be able to recover from. They need to get Longoria healthy and get their offense on track.
It might be time to bring up some fresh legs from the minors. I wouldn’t be saddened to see Upton traded if it made sense for the team. Desmond Jennings needs to get a call now…there isn’t a lot he can do at Durham at this point, and if he truly is the Rays center fielder of the future, well, the future is now.