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Rays vs. Giants Series: San Francisco is a Better Team

By David Egbert
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The Rays were coming off a hot streak where they won four straight series when San Francisco rolled into town. That said, who is the better team?

San Francisco is in first place in the National League West and playing over .600 baseball. It was going to be a tough series, and that turned out to be an understatement. The Giants totally outplayed the Rays and swept the series. It’s important to take a look at what went wrong and how it could impact the rest of the season.

To begin with, while the Rays starters pitched well, none of them lasted past six innings. That is an ongoing problem, and it once again put the pressure on the bullpen. On the other side, the Giants got a four-hit one run complete game on Sunday from Jeff Samardzija giving the Giants bullpen a night off.

The overworked Rays bullpen struggled mightily. Colome blew up in the first game and Cedeno in the second. Both pitchers took the loss. In all, Ray’s relievers gave up nine of the sixteen runs in the series. Giant’s relievers gave up one run.

It is clear that Kevin Cash has overworked the bullpen to save the starters, and it has begun to backfire on him. Erasmo Ramirez alone has thrown 49 innings in 30 games and may have to go on the disabled list to rest his arm.

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The Rays weren’t much better offensively. They were outscored by the Giants sixteen to six. Of the Rays six runs, five came on solo home runs. Worst of all, the Rays were zero for nineteen with runners in scoring position.

Just when you think the Rays have finally figured out how to put a rally together, they are back to having solo home runs as the only weapon in their arsenal.

It’s relatively easy to see why the Rays can’t even put a small rally together. When Jennings put down a successful bunt for a hit in the Sunday game, it was the first time since August of 2015. Who knows when they last put down a sacrifice bunt? The team is eleventh in stolen bases and when is the last time you can remember a well-executed hit and run.

On the other hand, it’s easy to see why the Giants lead the NL West. Their starters are 32 wins and 20 losses. Pitchers like Madison Bumgarner and Johnny Cueto average seven innings a start.

Rays starters are 18 wins and 24 losses and rarely get past the fifth inning. The Giants use any of their bullpens pitchers at any time and Rays have to overwork Colome, Ramirez, and Cedeno.

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The Giants position players are an equally solid group. Seven of the eight players in the field have been with the team three or more years. Five of the eight have come up through the Giant system. This does not include all-star outfielder Hunter Pence who is on the dl but has been with the Giants five years.

They are a gritty group who know how to work the count and move runners around the bases. The starting Giants lineup for the series had seven of the nine hitters batting above .250. The Rays had seven of nine below .250.

For those of you who say that the Giants have a $170 million payroll, you need to take into account that the entire infield of Brandon Belt, Joe Panik, Brandon Crawford and Matt Duffy will make $13 million total this year.

The bullpen has also been put together on the cheap. Santiago Castillo, who makes $5 million, anchors the bullpen and the rest of the bullpen makes less. The Giants do spend a lot of money on starting pitchers such as Bumgardner, Cueto and Samardzija and Buster Posey, but the heart of the team is homegrown talent.

The Rays could follow this model, but they are going to have to do a better job of developing homegrown position players in the minor leagues and coaching them at the major league level. Only then can you put together a group of players that plays like a team.

Before the latest round of injuries, the Rays only had three starting players who had been with the team for three years or more and only Evan Longoria, and Kevin Kiermaier had come up through the Rays system.

Next: Rays Need To Straighten Out Bullpen

The Rays are just not a solid team at this point. Rental players are ok if they hit on all cylinders but clearly the Rays 2016 group has not. In the end, there is no substitute for a real team like the San Francisco Giants.

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