Tampa Bay Rays Month in Review
The first month of the season was tumultuous, and even with their first series loss since April 10th, the Tampa Bay Rays ended the month opposite of how they started. After an 0-6 start that had the baseball world convinced the Rays grip on the AL East was gone, they finished 15-7 over the balance of the month to finish April with a 15-13 record, in second place in the AL East and 2.5 games behind the New York Yankees.
The story lines were intriguing.
April 2nd – The Rays lose Evan Longoria, their Gold Glove third baseman, to a strained oblique
April 7th – After their sixth loss, a 1-5 outing against the White Sox, the Rays offense is struggling, having scored more than one run only once.
April 8th – Manny Ramirez shocks the baseball world by retiring after the MLB announces a 100 game suspension of the former All-Star for using performance enhancing drugs. The Rays would earn their first victory of the season when the offense wakes up to win a wild one in Chicago, scoring five runs in the top of the ninth inning to upset the White Sox 9-7. The much-maligned bullpen earns the victory and the save, Kyle Farnsworth‘s first of the season.
April 11th – Fresh off their third straight series loss the Rays are 1-8 and heading into Fenway Park for a showdown against the Boston Redsox, the pre-season favorite to win the AL East and annointed the team to beat in the American League. Boston at this juncture is an equally miserable 2-7. The Rays hang 16 runs on the Red Sox and take an abbreviated series that saw the third game rained out. The Rays are 3-8 but still on life support.
April 21st – The Rays win six games against the NL Central during an eight-game homestand, going 3-1 against the White Sox, then doing it again against the Minnesota Twins. The Rays are now 9-10 and the Legend of Sam Fuld is in full force on Twitter.
April 24th – After opening up their road series against division Rival Toronto with a loss to drop to 9-11 the Rays take the next two, winning their fourth straight series to even their record at 11-11. It marks only the sixth time in modern baseball that a team starting the season 0-6 manages to pull back to .500 in the month of April.
April 28th – The Rays batter the Twins, scoring 29 runs in their three game sweep of Minnesota to take their fifth straight series.
April 29th – After a red eye flight home after a day night double header David Price looks human, allowing a career-worst 12 hits against the Los Angeles Angels, losing 8-5. Their record now sits at 14-12.
April 30th – The Rays close out the month with a monster performance from James “Big Game” Shields, who strikes out 12 Halos and allows one run through eight innings while scattering six hits for his best performance in recent memory. The Rays finish the month 15-12, their second best April in club history, and suddenly the Rays are back in the hunt. As Joe Maddon said during spring training, rumors of their demise had been greatly exaggerated.
The Rays dropped the third game of the series yesterday to lose it after a solid run that brought them back to prominence. Kyle Farnsworth led a much-maligned Rays bullpen with five saves in six attempts while putting up a sterling 0.90 ERA, 0.70 WHIP.
Looking ahead, the Rays schedule gets hectic in May. Starting Tuesday May 3rd the Rays get one day’s rest over the following 23 days, with 22 games on the schedule. It includes their first series against the AL East-leading New York Yankees and road series’ against two of the hottest teams in the majors; Cleveland May10-12 and an inter-league series against the Florida Marlins May 20th -22nd. They’ll finish with another three game series in Detroit against the Tigers before their next rest dayon May 26th. They’ll need it as their home stand will include three more games against Cleveland and then a rematch of their playoff nemesis Texas Rangers.