Rays Notes: First Half Ends as Rays Look to the Future

By Robbie Knopf

The first half of the 2012 season has not gone according to plan in any way or shape. Injuries have struck and this team has been as inconsistent as any team in baseball. But the Rays managed to effectively rise from the dead to finish the first half of the season on a high note, beating the Cleveland Indians 7-6 with 3 runs in the top of the 9th. They reminded the baseball world that they are talented enough to overcome everything and beat anyone, and one this team starts running on all cylinders, you never know how good they can be. Joe Maddon emphasized that when he spoke to the Tampa Bay Times on Sunday.

"“We need to understand that certain people aren’t here, and when they’re not here, you don’t wait for somebody to walk in the door. You keep playing, and you believe you can do it even without those pieces. We have to get back to believing that. And if we can, then we’ll avoid this kind of a rollercoaster-esque kind of a method that we’ve been going through. We’re better than that. I don’t care how many guys are hurt. We can beat anybody, any day, anywhere, any time. I believe that.”"

The Rays end the first half at 45-41, 7.5 games back in the American League East but just half a game out of the second wild card spot and 3 games back of the first wild card. This team is far from eliminated and looks to show the baseball world just how good they are in the second half.

Switching from the immediate future to the more distant future, the Rays had two prospects participate in Sunday’s MLB Futures Game, lefties Felipe Rivero and Enny Romero. Rivero struggled with control, walking 3 batters in an inning of work and allowing 2 runs, 1 earned, despite allowing just 1 hit, but his fastball hit as high as 94 MPH and he showed flashes of a good changeup and a sharp curveball. Rivero was up against more experienced competition and he didn’t pitch well, but his ability was evident.

Romero tossed a scoreless inning of work, working around 2 hits. He showed a fastball as high as 98 MPH but didn’t show much trust in his breaking pitches, including his curveball, which got slurvy when he did throw it. Romero allowed some hard contact and clearly is a long ways from reaching his upside, but it was great to see his live arm in action.