An arbitrary tipping point for the Rays, plus other thoughts

Just, please, Rays, don't drop down to my arbitrary tipping point of 10 games sub-.500.

• The Rays have lost five series in a row, and have not looked good doing so. Offensively, their trend has been to have a feast game, followed by at least two famine games. So you could argue that the Rays wouldn't want to see the Red Sox — who are 12-6 and have won 10 in a row — when they return to Tropicana Field on Thursday.

But that's exactly what they should want. The Rays need a shock to the system, and playing the Red Sox always seems to bring the best, or at least the most competitive, in them. Beyond that, Tampa Bay does not want to return to the Trop as an echoing cavern. With such a disappointing start, what would attendance be like if the Rays hosted, say, the Kansas City Royals? I'm thinking not so good.

At least with the Sox in town, the joint will be jumpin', although the legions in red might have more an impact had the Rays kicked some butt out on the road.


• Last year, starting pitcher Andy Sonnanstine won 13 games and earned praise as a guy who could perform effectively without anything approaching great velocity or an arsenal of wicked pitches. He was a master of the intangibles, a great competitor, one of those players of whom a hitter would say, "How did I go 0 for 4 against that guy?"

I was never convinced, and I don't think a lot of other fans were either. This year, Sonnanstine has started 0-3 with a 7.78 ERA. He's not as bad as those stats would indicate, but it does appear as if he's come down to earth. Sonnanstine always looked, well, hittable, and now appearances have become reality.

Now is when I might start squawking about bringing up phenom David Price — but he's 1-2 at Triple-A Durham and struggling.

Here's to better days...

I have a number in my head. 10. It's not a magic number, more like a dreaded number.

I guess it's kind of arbitrary, certainly not based on meticulous statistical analysis, but when it comes to the Rays, the number 10 keeps popping up in my head. As in:

The Rays cannot afford to go 10 games under .500. They are half way there. At 7-12, they are five games below .500, they sit in last place, 6 1/2 games out of first . Yes, it is early in a 162-game season, but it only stays early for so long. And I don't care at what stage the season is, 10 games under .500 is a big, big hole.

It's unlikely the Rays will lose five in a row to reach that dreaded number, but it's conceivable they could go 2-7, making them 9-19. At their current pace, the Rays would be 14-24 nearly a quarter of the way through the campaign.

Manager Joe Maddon is saying all the right things about not panicking, about how things are bound to turn around. And baseball is such a mercurial game, not to mention that the Rays have considerable talent, that's it's tempting not to chalk this up to a slow start that's bound to right itself.

About The Author

Eric Snider

Eric Snider is the dean of Bay area music critics. He started in the early 1980s as one of the founding members of Music magazine, a free bi-monthly. He was the pop music critic for the then-St. Petersburg Times from ‘87-’93. Snider was the music critic, arts editor and senior editor of Weekly Planet/Creative...
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