Tampa Bay Rays set to host Hottest Team in MLB, Oakland

Joey Wendle Tampa Bay Rays (Photo by Jason O. Watson/Getty Images)
Joey Wendle Tampa Bay Rays (Photo by Jason O. Watson/Getty Images) /

The Tampa Bay Rays were only able to take one of three from the Toronto Blue Jays this past weekend at Tropicana Field, and the task gets no easier with the Oakland Athletics coming to town Monday.

The A’s have had one of the strangest starts to the season of any team in the entire league. Since they usually don’t start their games until 10 PM EST, let’s get you caught up on what you might have missed from the A’s so far this season.

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The 2020 AL West Champions started the season ice cold, 0-6 to be exact. They got swept by the Astros at home to open the season, and dropped the first three of a four game series to the Dodgers before salvaging the final game of the series.

From there, the A’s dropped the first game of a three-game set in Houston, moving their record to 1-7 on April 8th. However, as we sit on April 26th, the A’s are 14-8. How you might ask?

From April 9th-April 24th the Athletics didn’t lose a game, not one. The team went 13-0 in that stretch, sweeping the D-Backs, Tigers, Twins, and taking two of three from the Orioles last weekend. Their only loss came yesterday, as Oakland ran into Orioles ace John Means.

Now, usually when you win 13 straight games it’s easy to point to a team’s best player and say “he’s been a huge part in all this.” That isn’t the case with Oakland during this run.

Matt Chapman, the Athletics Third Basemen, and best player, has been awful to start the season. Chapman has appeared in all 22 games for Oakland this season, but he is only hitting .158. Breaking down to 12-for-76.

Now, Chapman does have three home runs in his 12 hits, along with 11 RBI’s, but that isn’t what he, or the Athletics are used to. However, to compare, only two players on the Tampa Bay Rays have more, or the same amount of RBI’s as Chapman, Manuel Margot and Joey Wendle.

Chapman has over double the amount of strikeouts than he does hits this season, as he has struck out 30 times. The only Tampa Bay Rays player near that number is Randy Arozarena, who also has 30.

Obviously the huge run by Oakland shot them into first place in the AL West, but the Mariners are hot on their tail. Now yes, it’s probably too early to be looking at standings, but come on, it’s fun.

So what does this mean for the Tampa Bay Rays?

More or less, they need to bring it. Four big games with one of the best teams in baseball will be huge for the Tampa Bay Rays. If nothing else we can see how the team matches up against a team most believe will be the in the playoffs one way or another.

The Tampa Bay Rays also need to keep Chapman silent this week. As good as Oakland has been, I can’t imagine how dangerous they would be if Chapman gets going.

The Tampa Bay Rays will get no favors to start the series Monday night, as they will see Oakland’s ace Sean Manaea. In four starts this season Manaea carries a 3.04 ERA 1.18 WHIP, and .250 opponent batting average. His record is 2-1 on the early season.

Some fun Tampa Bay Rays – Oakland Athletics facts

Obviously, the teams didn’t meet in the 2020 season due to COVID-19. However, in the past two seasons, 2018-2019, the Tampa Bay Rays hold the better record as they are 9-6 against Oakland.

Under Kevin Cash the Tampa Bay Rays are 20-16 against the Oakland Athletics, including the 2019 AL Wild Card Game.

The last time the two teams didn’t play a four-game series at some point throughout the season was in 2014.

The teams have done some trading in the past few seasons as well.

Who could forget when the Tampa Bay Rays sent Ben Zobrist and Yunel Escobar to the Oakland A’s in exchange for John Jaso, Daniel Robertson, and Boog Powell. No, not that Boog Powell.

Although that trade didn’t work out for the Tampa Bay Rays, how about this one? The Tampa Bay Rays sent Jonah Heim to the A’s in exchange for some guy named Joe. Joe Wendle that is. I’d say that one worked out. Happy Birthday to Joey by the way.

The Tampa Bay Rays also acquired Trevor Plouffe from the A’s back in 2017. He went on to catch a first pitch or two for the Rays.

Next. Francisco Mejia: Do the Rays finally have a franchise catcher?. dark