Rays reek, outmatched by Oriole offense 5-0

The winning run was scored in the first inning. After the leadoff man flied out, Shields issued his first walk to Nick Markakis but promptly picked him off for out no. 2. A base hit by former-Devil Ray Ty Wigginton kept the inning alive. Baltimore’s Luke Scott continued to be a huge pain in the ass for Tampa Bay, singling to move Wigginton to second. They both scored on an Adam Jones double and he crossed the plate on a double by Felix Pie. The Orioles tacked on another in the fourth with Carlos Izturis scoring on a Josh Bell single after doubling to lead off. Scott homered to right in the seventh to continue his obnoxious need to hit well against the Rays.

I think anyone who looked at the standings and assumed this was an easy win clearly has not been paying attention lately. This Baltimore team had won eight of its last 10 games and has really come alive since hiring Buck Showalter as the third manager of the year. Combine the return of Koji Uehara from the DL with Scott’s continued success and it makes for a handful against any team, especially one struggling on offense like our Bay-area boys are.

[image-1]You can make all the excuses in the world, but this team failed to perform. Maybe it was the Friday the 13th phenomenon; maybe they were really excited to see the Village People as manager Joe Maddon suggested to the press. Crawford’s 1-for-4 night dropped his average to .296; he was the last Ray close to a .300 batting average. Something’s got to give.

Forget the uproar to fire the hitting coach; he’s not the one swinging the bat. Sure it’s his job to break these players of poor hitting habits but there’s only so much a guy can do. Then again, it couldn’t hurt the team; sure, fire Derek Shelton. But first tell me with whom you’ll be replacing him and what said coach’s approach is and why it will work where Shelton’s does not.

[image-2]I, like most of you, have no idea how to turn this hitting slump around, although I’ll gladly entertain suggestions in the comments. Tell the world what should be done. In the mean time, start stocking up on lucky horseshoes and pull out all the other charms of fortune you can think of. We need a good boost to shake off this Friday the 13th and take the trash out against Baltimore in Saturday’s matinee. Make sure you make it out to the game so you can avoid the awful Fox national broadcast team, as the Sun Sports – Fox Sports Florida guys have the day off. Train will be performing a post-game show; let’s hope the Orioles don’t run the train on Tampa Bay two days in a row.

Friday evening was Throwback Night, where the Tampa Bay Rays dressed up in uniforms of the 1970s Tampa Tarpons and played like it was a Throwaway Game. Unfortunately, it wasn’t a throwaway game, as the Rays still need to win in order to make it to the postseason. Performances like the 5-0 shutout at the hands of the league-losing Baltimore Orioles make one want to re-evaluate and say screw winning the East, the Rays need to worry about winning the wildcard race.

Rays starter James Shields took the loss (10-11), giving up four runs on 10 hits. Shields struck out two batters and walked three through five innings of work. He didn’t throw a bad game, per se, but seemed unable to get out of certain innings. O’s starter Jeremy Guthrie threw a pretty good game but not so great a performance that it should have shut down a team in the hunt for postseason play. The Rays managed just three hits on the evening, two of which were facing Guthrie. Just because Tampa Bay’s batters couldn’t hit their way aboard doesn’t mean they didn’t make it on base. They were spotted five bases on balls but went 0-for-7 with runners in scoring position, sounding like an all too familiar tale.

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