Category: Tampa Bay Rays

Rays Lose To Tigers In Strange Fashion

It is certainly not every day that a Major League Baseball game ends on a bunt, but believe it or not, that is what happened when the Detroit Tigers took on the Tampa Bay Rays a few days ago. It was a close fought game through 12 innings of play, a true pitcher’s duel thanks to a great outing by Tampa Bay pitcher Blake Snell who went nearly 7 innings, giving up only 2 earned runs and allowing just 5 hits to the Tigers.

However, in the bottom of the 12th, Tampa Bay reliever Matt Andriese got into some early trouble and quickly found a runner on third. It was at that point things got a bit strange. Backup Tigers catcher John Hicks took basically everyone at Comerica Park by surprise when he laid down an absolutely perfect “suicide squeeze bunt” that allowed the run to come in from third base — thus costing the Rays the game. To make matters even more strange, Hicks said after the game that his manager had not even signaled for the bunt, he made the decision on his own based on where the Rays fielders were lined up. While it is certainly a heartbreaking way to lose a game for Rays fans, you at least have to tip your cap to the charisma of a backup catcher willing to take such a risk at a critical juncture in the game. The Tigers have made a concerted effort to play a quicker game under their new manager Rod Gardenhire, and you have to imagine the skipper was proud of Hicks there.

The loss dropped the Rays to 13-16 on the season putting them 8 games behind the scorching hot Boston Red Sox in the American League East division. While certainly not a glowing record, it is at least slightly better than many MLB prognosticators had the Rays begged before the season. A roster that is retooling and rebuilding, the young players on Tampa Bay learned a valuable lesson in this particular extra innings loss: never take anything for granted on the diamond and always be ready for the bunt.

Better Than Expected Start for the Rays:

A record of 13-15 may not sound all that great . . . unless you’re the Tampa Bay Rays. Considering the way they looked before the start of the season, being two games under .500 little over a month into the season is quite the accomplishment.

In 2017, the Rays ended the season 80-82 in third place in the American League East Division. Soon after that began a major roster shakeup. Gone were Corey Dickerson, Steven Souza, Jr., Logan Morrison, Tommy Hunter, Lucas Duda, Jake Odorizzi, Alex Cobb, and the face of the franchise, Evan Longoria. Manager Kevin Cash announced his plan to use his bullpen every fifth day instead of a dedicated starting pitcher. Most fans and analysts looked at 2018 as a rebuilding year for Tampa Bay, with the team destined for a last place finish.

But rebuilding might be going a bit more quickly for the Rays. Along with a 13-15 record after one month of play, they rattled off an eight-game winning streak, which included taking two of three games from one of the hottest teams in the league, the Boston Red Sox. So Tampa Bay does not appear to be the pushover many expected.

One reason for this pretty decent start is the offense. Seven of the nine everyday players are hitting better than .260, with Joey Wendle and Mallex Smith both batting over .300. Even at .178, Carlos Gomez can be dangerous, as demonstrated by his four home runs. Two newcomers have led the way for the Rays offense, Denard Span (.266, 3 HR, 21 RBIs) and C.J. Cron (.269, 7 HR, 19 RBIs). Your text to link…

Pitching has been good enough to get Tampa Bay its current record, but certainly needs to get better if they want to give other teams headaches. While Blake Snell is 4-1 with a 2.52 ERA, many others in the starting rotation and bullpen have ERAs above 4.00. This includes Chris Archer, who is 2-2 with a 6.05 ERA.

Rays Win Series, Bounce Back From Sweep

Sadly, at 5-13 the Tampa Bay rays record is staying pretty true to the expectations put on the team. According to ESPN, Tampa is the 7th youngest team in the league and perhaps their inexperience was showing when they got swept by the Phillies over three games — failing to score higher than 4 runs in any of the ballgames. However the Rays seemed to find their stride a bit in their most recent series against the Texas Rangers taking 2 out of 3 games from the Rangers team who is off to a slower start than their fans may have expected. Blake Snell pitched a gem of a game in the first against the Rangers, going 6 and 1/3 innings while striking out 9 opposing hitters. Snell should have Tampa fans excited for the future at just 25 years old he has been putting together a great start to the season and posting a sub 3.00 ERA.

Up next for the Rays is the Minnesota Twins, who will be coming to Tampa for a three game series. The twins, who are currently in first place in the American League Central Division with a record of 8-5, have had only 13 games due to a whopping 4postponements due to the weather already. Fresh off an impressive series against the Rangers, the Rays fans are certainly hoping the Rays can take the field with energy going into the Twins series — hoping to take advantage of a potentially rusty Minnesota squad.

To spark the offense the Rays management will be counting on Carlos Gomez to turn around what has been a slow start to his first season in the Rays uniform. Batting a .162 average and only homering twice the Rays will certainly be hoping to see some of the power that netted him 17 homeruns last season. Additionally, it would be nice to potentially see Gomez get a tad bit more aggressive on the basepaths as he has had over 10 stolen bases in his last 3 seasons — but has not take a single base yet this year.

At home against a respectable but potentially rusty Twins team allow the Rays to make up a bit of ground in the American League East Division. Currently they are 11 games behind the scorching hot Boston Red Sox but this early in the season there is still plenty of time to turn things around.

Rays Win Important Game in a Wild Finish over Minnesota

Thursday night at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Florida, the Tampa Bay Rays outlasted the Minnesota Twins in a 10 inning slugfest. While winning is always the idea, sometimes a victory can get lost in the overwhelming thought of a 162 game season. However, these types of wins may prove critical to the Rays having any hope of a successful season.

Tampa Bay has always faced the arduous prospects of playing in the tough American League East Division. 2018 may prove to be even more ominous. One of the Rays bitter rivals, the New York Yankees, nearly made to the World Series last season in what was supposed to be a youth movement, rebuilding year.

As the first month of the season plays out the string, New York is playing .500 baseball, but still owns a three game advantage of Tampa Bay. Sure, not much to worry about at this juncture, but another East rival has raised eyebrows with an historic start to their season.

The Boston Red Sox have been beaten only twice during the first month, and their 17 wins have them a full 11 games ahead of Tampa in the early standings. So, when Denard Span legged out an infield base hit to score the winning run in the bottom of the 10th inning, it may have been more than a simple extra-inning victory.

The victory also kept the Rays from falling into an unenviable tie for last place in the division with the Baltimore Orioles. Certainly, one month a season does not make, but with the firepower in New York and the obvious talent in Boston, falling behind by double digit games before Memorial Day, could relegate the Rays to quickly shift into “next season mode”.

Span’s hustling effort seemed to lift the spirits in the Ray’s dugout, at least for one night. Span game over from the San Francisco Giants as part of a trade that sent longtime Tampa fan-favorite third baseman Evan Longoria to the west coast. This win was also encouraging from the aspect that staff ace Chris Archer seemed to shake off early season troubles, finally pitching like he’s capable.

Extra-inning walk-off victories are great for team morale. However, with the way things are shaping up in the American League East for the Tampa Bay Rays, they may quickly prove season-saviors. With the surplus of talent in their own division, every victory by the Rays should be savored.

Tampa Tarpons Open Season

While the major league team in Tampa, the Rays, have already gotten five full baseball games under their belt the minor league team, the Tarpons are kicking off their season April 5th in Lakeland, Florida against the Lakeland Tigers. This year in particular is going to be an exciting one for the team as this will be their first season under the new nickname of “Tarpons”. Previously, the team was known as the Tampa Yankees due to their affiliation with the Yankees franchise. By switching nicknames the team has truly developed a new and exciting identity and it adds a wrinkle of intrigue to the beginning of the season.

The Tarpons have been a staple in the Tampa area sports scene since their arrival in the city in 1994 (under the name Tampa Yankees) and are on pace for another fun filled season in the Florida State League (FSL) which is widely regarded as one of the most exciting leagues in the entire MiLB system. The highest rated prospect on the Tarpons is outfielder Estevan Florial. Florial is only twenty years old and has already got Yankees fans salivating at his potential. This is his first year not starting the season with a fall league squad, and Tarpons fans will be able to track his response to the grind of the Florida State League’s longer season. One of the more exciting aspects of Florial’s game is his incredible speed which is certain to be keeping Tarpon’s fans on the edge of their seats all seasons. Additionally, Florial balances his speed with a considerably powerful bat — knocking out thirteen homers in his 2017 season which spanned over two minor league teams.

In recent years the Yankees organization has pivoted more towards developing a farm system, and this should keep the Tarpon faithful excited. While it has been eight years since the Tarpons have brought home a FSL championship, perhaps the new nicknames and uniforms will inspire the Tarpons to greatness in their first season under the new identity. Not to mention, the minor league baseball atmosphere is unrivaled in sports and provides a family friendly environment to watch the stars of tomorrow taking the field today. If you are a Tampa area sports fan, get out and check out a Tarpons game at Steinbrenner field and watch some of the most exciting prospects in the game take the diamond.

Rays Drop 5 Straight Games

Well this may not have been the start to the season that Tampa Bay Rays fans wanted to see, but with a depleted roster and a series of trades designed to flip veterans for prospects it is hard to say that Rays fans should not have seen this coming.

Things started well enough for the Rays, winning on Opening Day against the Boston Red Sox by a score of 6-4. Starting pitcher Chris Archer, despite a shaky second inning, pitched admirably in the opener and Denard Span began his regular season with a triple that drove home three runs in what ended up being the deciding play of the game. Span, who had quite an impressive slashline during Spring Training, has been a potential bright spot on the otherwise mundane Rays roster.

However, since that Opening Day victory the Rays bats have seemed to fall asleep — failing to score more than four runs in their last five outings. David Price of the Red Sox pitched a gem of a game in the second outing, canceling out an equally impressive performance from Rays 25 year old lefty Blake Snell who gave up only three hits in his 5 and 2/3 innings.

After the home series against the boys from Fenway, the Rays traveled to the Big Apple to take on the Yankees. While only two out of the three scheduled games got to be played (with one being postponed due to heavy rainfall) they were uninspired affairs for the Rays players. On April 4th, unfortunately, the Yankees hitters figured out Blake Snell and bounced him from the game by the fourth inning. The ensuing result was a plethora of Rays relievers trying to get the Rays back in the ballgame, but once again the hitters were slow to get going. Yet Denard Span did in fact add another RBI — bringing his season total to a respectable total of six.

Dropping five games in a row this early in the season, of course, can’t bring too much optimism into the hearts of Rays fans and with six more road games before coming home to Tampa things may end up actually getting worse before they get better. It goes without saying that the Rays will need to start hitting the ball better if they want to reverse their disappointing results to begin this season.

Tampa Bay Rays continue opening slide

The Tampa Bay Rays came into the 2018 season with high hopes. A 1-5 start to the year has largely dashed those hopes, for now. As the Tampa Bay Times reports, the Rays dropped yet another game to the New York Yankees despite a valiant effort by starting pitcher Blake Snell who managed to go just four innings before he had to be lifted.

Snell was the latest to fall victim to the newest version of the Murderer’s row offense the Yankees have managed to put together. The starting pitcher’s 3.1 innings included four hits allowed, three walks, five earned runs, and two home runs surrendered. That outing got the Rays well on their way to their 7-1 loss. Once Snell departed, Matt Andriese came into the game and poured lighter fluid on the fire, allowing three hits, two earned runs, and another homer in 2.2 innings.

The Yankees that homered were the usual Yankees that you might expect to homer. There was Giancarlo Stanton already getting his third of the year. There was Aaron Judge getting his first of the year and Gary Sanchez also nabbing his first homer of the new season. Those two bats joining the hit parade likely have teams like Tampa more than a little nervous. The Rays are supposed to have a fairly decent offense, even if they don’t have long time third baseman Evan Longoria on the roster anymore.

That offense didn’t do much against Yanks starting pitcher Luis Severino, who is already 2-0 this season and has posted a 1.38 earned run average in his first two starts.

On Thursday afternoon, the Rays will change opponents from the New York Yankees to the Boston Redsox. It doesn’t appear on its face that is an improvement in their chances to win a game. Tampa will be squaring off against David Price, who managed to throw seven shutout innings in his first start of the 2018 season. One has to wonder if things are going to get better, or whether they’re going to get a lot worse as we head further into April. What is clear is that the Rays had been hoping to get out of the gate looking quite a bit better than they currently appear.

Rays Setting up for Future

During the 2017 Major League Baseball season, one team that surprised a lot of people for the Tampa Bay Rays. The Tampa Bay Rays compete in the very competitive American League East Division where they have to play against the Boston Red Sox and New York Yankees. One of the biggest challenges that this team has is competing with the Yankees and Red Sox in terms of payroll. While the Yankees and Red Sox tend to have two of the largest payrolls in Major League Baseball, the Rays typically are among the lowest. While the team does not necessarily have the budget to compete for top free agents, they do still do very well on the field.

Last season, the Tampa Bay baseball team did much better than most people would have thought. While most believe that last year would have been a rebuilding year for the team, they ended up finishing nearly 500 by winning 80 games and losing 82. While last season was a good year for the team, some are skeptical that he Rays could repeat their success this year (https://www.cbssports.com/mlb/news/tampa-bay-rays-2018-season-team-preview-mostly-cloudy-forecast/).

One of the main reasons why people are concerned about the team in the coming year is that they did lose a lot of their top players. While the trades may have been good moves for the long term, the team will be without Corey Dickerson, Evan Longoria, and Jake Odorizzi. Each of these players were traded for young talent that likely will be in the minors for a few more years.

While the Tampa Bay baseball team has lost a lot of their top talent, there is still plenty of reason for optimism in the future. After making these trades, the team has one of the best farm systems in all of baseball. While many of the top talented players are still several years away from reaching the big leagues, the team will likely once again bring up some fresh arms in young assets later this year.

Overall, most experts believe that the Rays will fall a bit in the standings. Not only are they a bit worse, but the other teams in their division seem to have taken a step forward. This could make it a tough year, but the Rays will certainly win their fair share of games.

Denard Span Putting Together Solid Spring Training

As we get closer and closer to baseball’s Opening Day, 34 year old Center Fielder Denard Span seems to have found the fountain of youth as he has put together an impressive Spring Training campaign so far. A key returning piece in the trade that sent Evan Longoria to the San Fransisco Giants, Span is going to be the elder statesman in the clubhouse in what, by all indications, seems like a rebuilding year for the Tampa Bay Rays.

Through the early portion of Spring Training so far Span has put together an impressive slash line batting with .368 average including 4 extra base hits in just 36 plate appearances. In addition to those numbers he has knocked in 10 runs and even stolen a couple of bases, showing that the 34 year old still contains the speed and quickness required to patrol the outfield in the majors. He had a particularly good outing against the Tigers on March 18th, garnering 3 hits in 4 at bats and knocking in a decisive 10-5 victory over the rebuilding Detroit squad. While Span has never made an All-Star Game in his career thus far, he has routinely been a solid plug-n-play outfielder for a number of major league teams. In short: he’s the type of piece the Rays will need to keep around if they want to remain competitive and exciting to watch even during the extensive rebuild operation.

While it is never a great idea to place too much stock in spring training results it has to give the Ray’s front office some solace to see a veteran player such as Denard Span showing up and putting in solid work in all facets of the game. Denard has been in the majors since 2008 when he came up with the Minnesota Twins organization, surely in what has been a tumultuous offseason for the Rays it has to feel good to see one of the few remaining older players leading the youngsters by example. Whether or not Span will remain a Ray past the trading deadline, of course, remains to be seen but if he’s putting up equivalents to the solid numbers we’ve seen so far in Spring Training then he will be intriguing trade bait to a team looking to make a serious playoff push. Hopefully Span can find a home in Tampa Bay continuing to play at the level he’s shown this Spring Training, but with the Rays front office you truly never can tell.

Tampa Bay Rays Hoping for Healthy Rotation

With the start of the MLB season just a week away, the Tampa Bay Rays have named their Opening Day starter. The team has announced that ace Chris Archer, their best starter from a year ago, will take the mound for the season’s first game. This will be the fourth straight Opening Day start for the 29-year old Archer.

The 29-year old Archer is looking to get back to the All-Star game for the second consecutive year. When asked whether he takes the designation as Opening Day starter for granted, he responded, “Never…it’s an honor every single year to represent the Tampa Bay Rays in the first game of the season.”

Archer, a 2-time All-Star, went a pedestrian 10-12 in 2017, with an ERA of 4.07. He was the most consistent starter in a sub-par rotation last year, taking the mound for 34 starts and throwing 201 innings. It was the third straight year that Archer has thrown over 200 innings, a rare enough feat in recent years.

During his career with the Rays Archer has been a steady presence through some rough losing seasons. He has been a regular part of the rotation since 2013 and is the longest tenured player after the loss of 3rd Baseman Evan Longoria this past offseason.

The Rays will open their season at home against the Boston Red Sox. The team is excited about their rotation that includes young phenom in Jake Faria and vastly improved Blake Snell. The question for the team will continue to be their defense and at the plate. They will surely miss the steady veteran Longoria, who was the only sure spot in their defense for the past decade.

A wild card in the Rays rotation will be the comeback of former #1 pitching prospect Nate Eovaldi, who is finally healthy after undergoing his second Tommy John Surgery in 2016. Whether he can return to the form he had with the Yankees in the first half of 2016 may very well determine the course of this season.

Manager Kevin Nash is hoping that the rotation stays healthy, believing that if it does then the wins will come. How Blake Snell rebounds from a disappointing second season will be something for fans to watch for. He was awful through the first 100 games but rebounded during the last two months of the season, going 5-1 in his last 10 starts with an ERA of 2.84.