The Seattle Series Defines the Current Rays Team
The Rays have just returned from a six game west coast road trip. West coast road trips can be brutal but the Rays started out with an impressive three game sweep of the Oakland A’s. They were all close games but a win is a win. Next up was the Seattle Mariners who were leading the American League West. Unlike the A’s, the Mariners are the crown jewel of the AL West and are in first place and playing .600 baseball. A series win for the Rays would have been huge. Unfortunately, the Rays team that drives us all crazy showed up and the Rays were swept by Felix Hernandez and the red hot Mariners.
How did this happen? Well, it starts with the wildly inconsistent starting pitching. The Rays ran out Drew Smyly, Matt Moore and Chris Archer. Smyly was terrible giving up six runs in five innings. Moore gave up three runs in the first inning and only lasted four and two thirds innings. Archer was all over the place with his fast ball and gave up four runs in five innings. In total, none of the three lasted more than five innings and the trio gave up a combined twelve runs.
Those kind of numbers led to more pressure on the already over used bullpen. In the series, the Rays used seven different relief pitchers for a total of ten appearances. The front end of the bullpen, Alex Colome, Eresmo Ramirez, Xavier Cedeno and Enny Ramero were terrific giving up only one run in seven and two thirds innings. The back end of Steve Geltz, Dana Eveland and Ryan Webb was mostly awful. Eveland gave up two walks in the second game followed by a three run home run off Geltz. In the series finale, Geltz gave up a walk off home run in the bottom of the eleventh and, in essence, he was responsible for two of the losses.
As if the pitching problems weren’t enough, the Rays offense kept failing to deliver in clutch spots. The troubled foursome of Desmond Jennings, Brad Miller, Logan Morrison and Corey Dickerson went 6 for 35 (.171 BA) with 5 rbi’s. All five rbi’s came on two home runs by Dickerson. For the three games, only five Rays batters drove in a run. At he end of the series, the Rays had four players batting over .250 and six players batting under .200. For the three games, the Rays scored eleven runs and gave up seventeen.
Despite being second in the American League in home runs, the Rays are worse offensively than they were last year. They are fourteenth in the AL in runs scored with 113, last in batting average with .224 and last in on-base percentage with .296. Even worse, they rank fourteenth in driving in runners in scoring position with a .211 average. And, while home runs are a crowd pleaser, only 15 of the Rays 46 have come with men on base. Figures don’t lie and what this shows is that beyond Logan Forsythe, Steve Pearce, Steven Souza Jr. and a surprising Brandon Guyer, there isn’t much hope of someone getting on base and then scoring.
Evan Longoria is trying to take up some of the slack and is third on the Rays in home runs with six and first in rbi’s with seventeen. However, when fellow All Star infielder Robinson Cano of Seattle has twelve home runs and thirty-three rbi’s, you can see that Longo is a long way from carrying the team.
If you are looking for an answer at this point, you will be disappointed because I don’t have one. All I know is that the Rays coaching staff has been a leader in developing pitcher and defensive strategy under Jim Hickey and Tom Foley. They have had a miserable offensive performance for several years under hitting coach Derek Shelton. The Rays stand firmly behind Shelton and claim that he is not the reason for the Rays hitting issues. You can make up your own mind on that issue.
In the end, it all boils down to the leadership of Matt Silverman and Kevin Cash. Silverman is a GM without a lot of experience and Cash has never been known to be a quality hitter or offensive genius in his playing/coaching career. I don’t know if they are solely responsible for this terrible start but somebody has to step up and guide this team out of the offensive slump that seems to have gone on forever.