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Are the Rays Throwing it All Away?


raysprice-wrThe Tampa Bay Rays worked themselves all the way from last place in the American League East to the division lead from late June until early August. But now on a five game road trip to face N. L. West contenders, the Arizona Diamondbacks and Los Angeles Dodgers, they are 0-4 and staring at Clayton Kershaw in tonight’s finale.

To be fair, the Rays are shorthanded right now. They still have no Alex Cobb after he was hit in the ear with a line drive on June 15th. Matt Moore And Desmond Jennings are both on the 15 day disabled list. And on Wednesday, Chris Archer was forced to come out of the game in the second inning due to tightness in his right forearm. These injuries have hurt, but they should not have hurt this much.

On Wednesday, the Rays came back from a three run deficit in the seventh inning to take an 8-7 lead. They held that lead going into the eighth inning when they turned the game over to their normally reliable bullpen. But Joel Peralta allowed two runs and the Diamondbacks won the game 9-8. It was the first series the Rays had lost since mid-June. Then, things got worse. After an off-day on Thursday, the Rays went on to play the Dodgers on Friday. With ace David Price on the mound, they got out to a 6-0 lead. The Rays brought in Peralta in the eighth after Price gave up a run in the seventh and Jake McGee and Josh Luecke each gave one up in the eighth. Peralta got the last out and handed the ball over to Fernando Rodney in the ninth with a three-run lead. That should be automatic.

Admittedly, Rodney is not as good as he was a year ago. But it would be tough to be that good two straight years. If Price had not won the Cy Young Award, Rodney likely would have. This year, he got off to a rough start, but he has been very good the last couple of months. That is until the complete meltdown  he had on Friday. He retired only one of the first five hitters he faced, allowing four hits and three runs. Price had been cheated out of his win and the Dodgers had runners on first and second when a ground ball was hit back to Rodney on what should have been an inning ending double play. Instead he threw the ball into right field, missing second base by a mile and allowing Adrian Gonzalez to score the winning run.

Predictably, the Rays came out flat in Saturday’s game. By the fourth inning, they found themselves down 5-0. They stranded runners in scoring position several times. They failed to come up with plays on defense. And now they find themselves three games back in the American League East division. Right now, at most they should be a game behind the Boston Red Sox, but now staring at Kershaw tonight, they could go four games down. Jeremy Hellickson will start for the Rays. He has failed to get past the fifth inning in his last two starts. This does not look good for Tampa Bay.

If the Rays can get Cobb, Moore and Archer back, they may have one more run left in them. But If Peralta and Rodney fail to close games, it won’t matter much. The Rays have to win games when they score six and eight runs. They have too few of them to waste.


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