Since the shellacking the Rays received against the Yankees in which they dropped two games by scores of 10-0 and 7-3, the Rays have been on fire.
With a three game sweep of Baltimore Orioles at Camden Yards, and a four game sweep of the Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park, the Tampa Bay Rays find themselves in the top position of the American League East. The Rays boast a franchise-best start of 10-3. With David Price on the mound tonight, the Rays stand a good chance of stretching their road winning streak by another game to eight.
In the last two series, the Rays pitching has looked superb. Jeff Niemann appears to have recovered from being hit in the shoulder by a line drive during the first week of the season. He went seven innings in both Camden Yards and in Fenway. Matt Garza has been a workhorse, pitching eight innings in both of of his road trip games. He has also struck out five batters in each game.
James Shields still seems to be having some concentration problems, however. Even though he struck out seven, he still gave up four runs. He has pitched three games this season, but between two of those games he gave up a total of five home runs. On the other hand he has 18 strikeouts in as many innings. He is pitching well, but he tends to serve up a fat one now and then.
In addition to the pitching, the Rays put their bats to use. They hit the ball so well in Boston that they knocked the rain out of the clouds. The Rays scored 24 runs against the Red Sox pitching with five homers. They also managed 17 runs against Baltimore with six home runs.
Even the maligned Pat Burrell hit a game-winning homerun in the top of the 12th inning of Friday night’s game. Except technically he hit it on Saturday. As Friday night’s game was set for extra innings, the umpires postponed the game due to rain, setting up the Rays to win two games on Saturday. Maybe Pat’s homerun will assuage some of the flak he's receiving from the fans.
Manger Joe Maddon has been also taking heat from the Rays fans for his decision to retain Burrell as the designated hitter. So far this season, Burrell has changed his stance and become more patient in the batter box. He has challenged the pitchers more often resulting in more pitches being thrown.
Although it remains early in the season, their fans can celebrate this unprecedented start, even though most of their wins have come against Baltimore and they still lost two of three against the Yankees. On the other hand, Baltimore may not be as bad as they were in previous years. They improved their lineup giving them the potential to be a better team this year. Also in the first game of the three game series against the Yankees, the Rays won 9-3.
Best of all, though, the Rays swept four games from the Red Sox in Boston, but beware. The season is long, and there are many more games to play against Boston.Powered by Sidelines