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Tampa Bay Rays 2013

Started By alexf388, Feb 16, 2014 09:38 PM

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#21

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Tampa Bay Rays Review:
Starting Pitching:
Our starting pitching ERA is currently 4.18, which is ranked 7th in the American League. 4.18 unfortunately is not good enough for a team that lacks a capable offensive lineup to make up for the extra runs lost by the pitching. The biggest problem with the starting rotation at the moment is our top two starters have not performed to expectations at all.

David Price has been decent this month so far, pitching a satisfactory 3.67 ERA. Things are nevertheless worrisome for the former 2012 Cy Young pitcher: he's pitched a 2.74 ERA at home, but a very poor 4.82 ERA on the road. This can be explained not only by the fact that opposing hitters have had more hits against on the road, but also more home runs. So far, Price has had a better strikeout and walk rate than his career averages, but his HR/9 has doubled compared to last year's. Although the sample size is small, Price's pitches so far have yielded just 0.56 G/F, which means a lot of these flyballs in other statdiums are getting dumped into the bleachers. Pitching for flyball outs in the spacious Tropicana Field is one thing, but it's a disaster to do it in the more hitter friendly ballparks. At home, Price has been pitching well enough, but on the road, Price needs to pitch better

Matt Moore has the same troubles as Price, except it's compounded even more by the fact he still has control issues. Moore has pitched a ghastly 5.68 ERA in five games. In most of the games, the opposing batters simply waited for a good pitch to hit hard mostly because Moore has trouble locating his pitches for strikes. A 2.26 HR/9 and a 5.00 BB/9 is not going to cut it for a number 2 starter. Moore needs to dramatically up his game if he wants to continue to be that number 2 starter we hoped him to be.

Of all the pitchers, Alex Cobb has the lowest ERA (3.09) of the starting staff. Although his FIP (4.34) suggests regression in the near future, he's been pitching well enough that I can't argue against what he's been doing so far. Hellickson has been pitching well too, going 3.18 ERA in his first five games. His FIP of 1.76 is the highest amongst the Rays starters, and so far the teams he's faced have found no answer against his fastball-changeup compliment. Hernandez has gone 4.85 ERA in his first four starts, more or less what was predicted of him this season. Last but not least, Niemann has gone 6.52 since the past two games. Although not quite the start I was hoping for, I definitely prefer Niemann to start over Hernandez anytime.

Bullpen:
While our starting pitching is just seventh best in the league, our bullpen has been phenomenal with 1.86 ERA this month, good for first in the league. However, most of this success can be attributed to only two guys of the bullpen: setup man Jake McGee and closer Fernando Rodney. McGee has allowed no earned runs in 12 innings, whilst striking out 18 in the same span. Rodney so far has earned 9 saves in 9 save opportunities, allowing just 1.26 ERA and striking out 21 batters in 14 innings. The rest of the bullpen has been barely adequate. Taking out McGee and Rodney out of the equation, the rest of the bullpen has pitched 3.75 ERA. While it is a bit harsh to criticize the rest of the bullpen considering it's only a small sample size, nevertheless, the Rays cannot continuously use McGee and Rodney all the time to win games.

Batting lineup:
The batting lineup has done surprisingly well so far, especially during the time Longoria was on the DL. So far the lineup has scored 132 runs (4th), batted .259 (7th) and has an OBP of .343 (4th). For now, these numbers are better than the numbers our lineup put up last year. The only questions in our lineup at the moment has to deal with third base and with the DH.

Since Longoria's injury back in April 18th, the Rays lineup has scored 39 runs in 11 games, and managed to win 9 games out of those 11. This is pretty good considering Longoria is one of our key offensive players in the game; last year, when Longoria was out on the DL, the Rays went 41-44, and when he returned, the Rays came back with a record of 49-28. In place of Longoria, Ryan Roberts has been offensively strong so far, going .250 /.340/.468 since he became the starting third baseman for the Rays. Although Roberts is expected to regress somewhere back to .210/.290/.340 by the end of the year, we don't have any other option for the third base situation at the moment. Although theoretically we could solve this situation by moving Kelly Johnson to third, Zobrist to second, and promote Wil Myers to be our starting right fielder, there is no guarantee that Johnson will be a defensively adequate third baseman, unlike Roberts. Besides, Roberts and Johnson are posting similar offensive numbers, and I don't exactly want to promote our top prospect unless there is a good reason to do so. Alternatively, we could trade for a starting third baseman with another team, but trading for one right now means that we have to give up one (or worse, several) of our top prospects to do so. And of course, when Longoria comes back from the DL next year, we'll be stuck in a logjam at third base (unless if we happen to trade for a third baseman in his last year of contract). The best option right now for the Rays is to wait and see until June/July. If Roberts regresses to his past numbers, we can trade for a third baseman cheaply than if we traded for one right now.

DH hasn't been a strong position for the Rays so far. While other AL teams have proven offensive sluggers at DH, the Rays make do with hitters who are, at best, players who have the potential to become better-than-average hitters, or at the very worst, hitters who are way past their prime. In this month alone, we had three candidates for DH: Shelley Duncan, Luke Scott, and Mike Carp, recently claimed off waivers from Boston. All of them, in my opinion, have the potential to be offensively better than what they are right now. Duncan has been demoted to the Triple-A for his lacking performance, and hopefully Luke Scott and Mike Carp can do better.


Defense:
So far, our defensive efficiency is 6th at .698. Yes, it's a small sample size, but since much of our strategy revolves around pitching and defense, it's an important part of the game. Our infield defense is quite solid at the moment. Although Yunel Escobar has had 5 errors this month, he is one of the better short stops in terms of range, and with Kelly Johnson, they form a pretty good double play team, with 21 double plays between them. In the outfield, Matt Joyce and Jennings have been adequate so far, but Zobrist has been excellent defensively so far, committing no errors and also saving +0.6 runs. Defense is something that needs a considerable amount of time to observe before we can make any decisions on the team's defense, but so far it's been solid.

Summary of Team Review:
The area that needs significant improvement right now is our starting pitching. We can't count ourselves to consistently win games if we can't depend on our top two starters to do so. Our offense has been good so far, considering that Longoria is out of the equation this season. While it is on the priority list to figure out a solution and plan for third base, the current plan is to wait and see. The Rays bullpen has been excellent so far, but only because of the work of setup man Jake McGee and closer Fernando Rodney.


April Standings:
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American League East
In the AL East, the Boston Red Sox are 2 games ahead of the Rays in 1st place. Before the 4-game series with the Red Sox in mid-April, Boston had no problem sweeping through their division rivals the Baltimore Orioles and the Toronto Blue Jays. After the 4-game series with the Rays (where they almost swept us as well), the Red Sox continued to wreck havoc: they easily swept through the Indians in 3 games, and the Houston Astros in 4 games. Of course, many of these sweeps have been against teams that are near the bottom of many team statistical categories, but each game the Red Sox win, our chances of clinching a playoff berth worsen. The key to the Red Sox success has been their offense: Boston leads in runs scored, and are currently ranked amongst the top 4 in batting average, on base person, and home runs. Those kinds of numbers are even scarier when you consider that the Boston could be winning more games if their starting pitching was better: currently, their combined starting ERA is 4.86. Where their starting pitching has failed, however, their bullpen has excelled. So far, their bullpen has picked up the pieces and pitched an ERA of 2.63, good for 4th in the American League.

Aside from Boston, both the New York Yankees and Toronto Blue Jays can be expected to contend as well. The Yankees have a formidable offense and pitching, even though their pitching has been handicapped by their hitter friendly park, and their hitting has been stagnant so far due to numerous injuries to their core players, including Rodriguez, Jeter, Granderson, and Texeira. The Blue Jays can also be counted to be contenders, but like the Yankees, many of their key players are on the DL too, including Jose Reyes and Josh Johnson. Many of their other backup starting pitchers like Kyle Drabek, Dustin McGowan, and Drew Hutchinson are also on the DL. The Orioles, on the other hand, are not expected to contend at all this year, and so far they have proven expectations correct with their standings. The Orioles lack effective starting pitching, a good bullpen, and an offensive lineup capable of producing runs, and their numbers show: last in runs scored, last in batting average, last in OBP, last in starting ERA, and just 8th in bullpen ERA.

American League Central
The Detroit Tigers are leading the AL Central Division at the moment, and there is a good reason why they are predicted to come 1st in their division. One of the richest teams in baseball, the Tigers can afford one of the best starting rotations in baseball, and also a good offensive lineup. Their current pitching rotation boasts current Tigers ace Justin Verlander, Max Scherzer, Annibal Sanchez, Doug Fister, and Rick Porcello. Their combined ERA is 3.46, good for second in the league. Their offense is led by none other the best pure hitter in the game, Miguel Cabrera, as well as the sluggers Prince Fielder, Victor Martinez, and one of the best offensive catchers in the game, Alex Avila. So far the Tigers are third in batting average and on base percentage, but 7th in runs scored. This will most likely improve as they continue to beat down their AL Central rivals.

American League West
The AL West is a battleground between four teams that are competing for the division title, thus making AL Central look like a cakewalk for the Tigers. The Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, the Oakland Athletics, the Texas Rangers, and the Seattle Mariners all have a good chance of being number one in this division. Of course, the only team in the AL West that won't have any chance at all is the Houston Astros; their disappointing 55-107 season last year in the NL could may not be their last 100-plus loss season, considering the strength of their AL West Division rivals.



National League East:
The Phillies have had a strong head start this season, with the Marlins trailing closely behind. The preseason predictions had the Atlanta Braves finishing first at 90-72 this season, but so far they're trailing behind at 11-15. Overall, the NL East is no picnic either: the Braves, the Nationals and the Phillies all have reasonable chances of gaining the playoff berth in their division, while the Marlins and Mets are expected to finish with losing records this year. However, the Marlins have strong contributions from their offensive lineup and starting pitching so far: they are currently 1st in batting average, OBP, and starting ERA.

National League Central:
Unlike their AL counterparts, the NL Central is full of strong contenders for the division berth. The Cincinnati Reds, the St. Louis Cardinals, the Milwaukee Brewers, and the Pittsburgh Pirates have strong chances of becoming number 1 in their division. So far, the Cubs and Pirates are both leading the division 16-12. Both teams are in the top three offensive categories at the moment, while their pitching has been adequate. The Brewers and Cardinals have been hit with injuries to their key players, thus explaining their poor records at the moment. For example, the Cardinals' Adam Wainwright, Chris Carpenter, and Jason Motte are all out with injuries, and the Brewers' Corey Hart, Michael Fiers, Marco Estrada and Mat Gamel are also on the DL too. SP Homer Bailey of the Reds is out with a torn labrum, and like Longoria, is unlikely to come back and play this season.

National League West:
The Los Angeles Dodgers and the San Francisco Giants are the expected contenders in this division this year. Both teams have some of the best starting rotations in baseball, and decent bullpens and lineups that add to it. The other teams, like the Diamondbacks, Rockies, and the Padres, are not expected to contend this year against the likes of the aforementioned powerhouses.

#22

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Alex Ferguson

The next team we're facing are the Kansas City Royals. The Royals are currently 11-13, 4th in the AL Central standings. The Royals feature a potent offensive lineup centred around DH Billy Butler, 3B Mike Moustakas, 1B Eric Hosmer and LF Alex Gordon. The only rap is that aside from that core of players, the rest of the lineup has had trouble offensively. So far, the overall team batting average and OBP is .265 and .320 respectively, which is average compared to the AL competition. In terms of pitching, the Royals are having big problems with their starting rotation and bullpen: collectively, the team's ERA is hovering around 4.66. Their current starting rotation is being led by none other than James Shields, who was traded with SP Wade Davis for several minor-league players, including, of course, Wil Myers, Jake Odorizzi, Mike Montgomery, and Patrick Leonard. Shields has been good so far, going for 3.10 ERA in six starts. Davis, however, has been terrible so far, going 6.59 ERA in the past five starts. It doesn't help the Royals that their other starters are also performing below expectations as well, such as Ervin Santana (who has an ERA of 6.00 so far, and has been demoted to relief pitching) and former first-round draft pick Jeremy Guthrie (who has pitched an ERA of 8.39 in six games). The Royals bullpen is no good either, with just two relief pitchers (the setup men Aaron Crow and Tim Collins) with an ERA above 3.00. While Kauffmann Stadium is a pitcher's park, the Rays pitchers are likelier going to use that advantage better than the Royals pitchers.



Game 27: Kansas City Royals (11-14) vs. Tampa Bay Rays (17-10) - April 30th, 2013
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David Price makes easy work out of the Royals hitters, going 7.1 innings, striking out 10 and allowing just 1 earned run, even though the Royals would score two more on Escobar's 5th error of the season. Opposing Price was Wade Davis, and the former Rays pitcher was rocked hard in 5.1 innings, where he allowed 7 earned runs to score on 12 hits. The Rays offense was phenomenal today, with many players contributing offensively in many ways. 1B Loney and 3B Roberts each had 3 hits and 2 RBI this game. Zobrist had an amazing game today, going 4 for 5, including three doubles in which he batted in 2 runs and scored another two himself. For this performance that helped the Rays cruise to a 14-3 victory over the Royals, Zobrist would be named Player of the Game.


Game 28: Kansas City Royals (11-15) vs. Tampa Bay Rays (18-10) - May 1st, 2013
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Today's game was a less one-sided affair unlike yesterday's. SP Matt Moore pitched 7.0 innings of work, allowing 2 earned runs on 5 strikeouts, 4 walks, and 3 hits. Royals' starting pitcher Luke Hochevar was even better than Moore, allowing 1 earned run on 6 strikeouts, no walks, and 4 hits in the same number of innings. However, their bullpen lost this close game when the Royals' middle relief pitcher Kelvin Herrera and closer Greg Holland allowed the Rays offense to score 3 runs in the 8th and 9th inning.

Game 29: Kansas City Royals (12-15) vs. Tampa Bay Rays (18-11) - May 2nd, 2013
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The Royals had a better game offensively today, in which several of their players hit well today, including today's Player of the Game 1B Billy Butler, who managed 4 hits in 6 at bats, including two doubles. Alex Cobb pitched adequately today, allowing 4 earned runs in 7.0 innings, while walking 4 and striking out none. The Rays bullpen held firm and allowed no runs for the next three innings until Rays middle relief pitcher Cesar Ramos allowed a run to score and the Royals a walk-off win.


Series Summary:
The Rays gained the upper-hand over the Royals, winning two out of the three games in this series. The Rays hitters did their best to exploit the Royals pitching, and did so successfully in the first two games, while Price and Moore did a good job of preventing runs against the Royals lineup. The Rays are still 2nd place in the standings, 2 games behind the Red Sox.

#23

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Alex Ferguson

The last road series the Rays will play before heading back home will be against the Colorado Rockies. Their current team record is 13-16. Coors Field, the ballpark of the Rockies, is known to everyone in baseball as one of the most unforgiving parks for pitchers due to its location and arid climate conditions. It's no surprise that the Rockies starting pitching and bullpen ERA are 4.28 and 4.41 respectively, both numbers which are good for 2nd last in the NL division. Nevertheless, there are a few good pitchers on their team that have managed to adapt to such a harsh environment, including SP Jorge De La Rosa (who has an ERA of 2.72 in 7 starts), CL Rafael Betancourt (0.56 ERA and 6 saves), and SU Rex Brothers (10.80 ERA over 8.1 innings, not a lot of luck so far). Although the Rockies offense obviously benefits from Coors Field, the Rockies do boast a powerful top-of-the-order lineup, including CF Dexter Fowler, LF Carlos "Cargo" Gonzalez, and arguably one of the best shortstops in the league, Troy Tulowitzki. The Rays will definitely have a hard time getting wins out of this series, especially considering the next Rays starters who are projected to pitch in this series are all essentially pitchers with flyball tendencies.



Game 30: Colorado Rockies (14-16) vs. Tampa Bay Rays (18-12) - May 3rd, 2013
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The Rockies welcomed the Rays by rocking them 8-2 in the first game of the series. Jeff Niemann was driven out in just two innings, when he allowed 4 earned runs to score, including a two-run home run by "Cargo" Gonzalez. The Rays bullpen was called up just after the second inning, and for the rest of the game they would allow another 3 runs to score. Opposing starting pitcher Jorge De La Rosa pitched a stunning performance, allowing just 1 earned run (a solo homerun by Ben Zobrist) in 8.0 innings of work, all the while striking out 11 Rays batters. For his pitching dominance, De La Rosa would be given Player of the Game honours.



Game 31: Colorado Rockies (14-17) vs. Tampa Bay Rays (19-12) - May 4th, 2013
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Hellickson, like Niemann, was driven out by the relentless Rockies offense after allowing 4 earned runs in 2.0 innings. The Rays bullpen did slightly better, and allowed 4 more runs to score in 9.0 innings. Cesar Ramos, called to replace Hellickson on the mound, allowed another two runs in the 4th inning. Jamey Wright would allow another run in the 8th inning, and Rodney would blow a save opportunity at the bottom of the eighth inning when he allowed a single run to score and tie the game. The Rays offense wasn't asleep however, and they too punished the Rockies pitchers with 11 runs and 12 hits, including a three-run home run by Jose Molina in the 6th inning, and another three-run home run by Ryan Roberts in the 11th inning. Despite hitting the game-winning homerun, Roberts would not be named Player of the Game; instead, Molina would earn the honors because he also hit 2-run double in the 7th inning, totalling 5 RBI this game for the veteran catcher.

After the game, team trainer Stan Conte informed me that Hellickson was diagnosed with a sore elbow. Conte thinks that it'll take at least 1-2 weeks for Hellickson to heal completely, but that his injury won't require any DL time. For now, I've decided not to place Hellickson on the DL, but instead use him as a middle relief pitcher in place of Roberto Hernandez. For now, Hernandez will retake the role of the fifth starter.


Game 32: Colorado Rockies (15-17) vs. Tampa Bay rays (19-13) - May 5th, 2013
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David Price did a better job than Niemann and Hellickson, but it wasn't good enough anyways: in 6.0 innings, he allowed 3 earned runs to score on 9 hits, and was issued the loss. In contrast, the Rockies opposing starter Jhoulys Chacin allowed just one earned run in the same number of innings while striking out 8 batters. The Rays offense was quieter today than yesterday, and the only player with two or more hits was LF Matt Joyce, who also batted in the Rays only run this game.


Series Summary:
The Rays would win just one game of this three-game series on the Road against the Rockies, and they had to win it in extra-innings too. The series only served to highlight the main, glaring weakness of the Rays starters: pitching on the road in hitter friendly parks, and this is something definitely that the team needs to fix on later this season. The failure of the Rays starters to pitch any quality starts this series means that the Rays bullpen will not enter the next series against Toronto considerably tired. And the more fatigued the bullpen is, the likelier they'll allow more runs. The Rays are now 19-13, 2nd in the AL East and 2 games back from the Boston Red Sox.

#24

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Our first home series this month will be against the Toronto Blue Jays. The opposing team is currently 15-17, and 4th in the AL East Standings. The Blue Jays made headlines in the offseason when they made huge trades and free agent signings in which they acquired an entire cache of veteran players, including 2012 NL Cy Young winner R.A. Dickey, starting pitchers Josh Johnson and Mark Buehrle, short stop Jose Reyes, OF Melky Cabrera, and many more. So far in the season, some of these signings and trades haven't paid off yet: Melky Cabrera is only .238/.270/.323, Jose Reyes and Josh Johnson are both on the DL for 4 months and 6 weeks respectively. The Blue Jays offensive lineup is currently hitting .261(7th in the league) and getting on base only .319 (10th in the league). Making up for their general lack of plate discipline is their ability to slug homeruns: the team has hit 42 homeruns so far, good for 4th in the league. On the mound, the Blue Jays pitchers are subpar compared to the league standard: their starters have an ERA of 4.24 (8th in the league) and their bullpen are pitching an atrocious 6.06 ERA (14th in the league). While R.A. Dickey and Mark Buehrle have been welcome additions in the starting rotation so far, the rest of the rotation has been inconsistent at best. The same thing could be said of the Blue Jays bullpen: aside from SU Casey Janssen and CL Sergio Santos, the rest of the bullpen has an ERA of well above 6.00 ERA. The Rays do hold a solid advantage over the Blue Jays in terms of bullpen pitching, but in starting pitching and offense, the Rays and the Jays are more or less on equal footing, though the Toronto hitters are capable of doing significant damage with their plus power.


Game 33: Tampa Bay Rays (20-13) vs. Toronto Blue Jays (15-18) - May 6th, 2013
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The Rays seize the first game of the series in a 14-inning game. Moore pitched well today, going 7.0 innings whilst striking out 7 batters, walking 2, and allowing just 1 earned run to score on 6 hits. Opposing pitcher Brandon Morrow pitched a similar performance as Moore, and also allowed just 1 earned run to score (but two more runs would score on an error by Blue Jays 2B Maicer Izturis. The Rays could have won the game right there but in the ninth inning, Kyle Farnsworth blows the save opportunity and allows two earned runs to score on a 2-run home run by 3B Edwin Encarnacion. The game would go into extra innings until the bottom of the 14th inning, where Casey Janssen loaded the bases and unintentionally walked Luke Scott for the Rays to win the game.


Game 34: Tampa Bay Rays (21-13) vs. Toronto Blue Jays (15-19) - May 7th, 2013
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The Rays started the game by pummelling the Toronto starter J.A. Happ. Happ was taken out after pitching just 0.2 innings, where he allowed five earned runs to score. The rest of Blue Jays bullpen offered no relief, they allowed 7 earned runs to score for the rest of the game. Alex Cobb, our Rays starter for this game, pitched an excellent 7.0 innings of one-run game, while also striking out 8 batters. This would earn him Player of the Game honours.


Game 35: Tampa Bay Rays (21-14) vs. Toronto Blue Jays (16-19) - May 8th, 2013
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Toronto's ace, R.A. Dickey, pitched a good game against the Rays, going 8.0 innings, and allowed two earned runs to score (two solo homeruns by 2B Kelly Johnson in the 3rd and 8th inning) on 7 hits, while striking out 6 and walking 2. Rays starter Jeff Niemann pitched even better, going the same number of innings but allowing just one earned run to score, but the Rays would lose the game when Fernando Rodney blew the save opportunity when Toronto's Jose Bautista blasted a two-run homerun to left field in the ninth inning. For his two solo homeruns in a 3 for 4 performance today, 2B Kelly Johnson would be named Player of the Game.


Game 36: Tampa Bay Rays (21-15) vs. Toronto Blue Jays (17-19) - May 9th, 2013
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Roberto Hernandez pitched a fairly good game today, going 8.0 innings while allowing 3 earned runs (from two home runs, including a two-run homerun from catcher J.P. Arencibia in the 5th inning, and another solo homerun by Brett Lawrie in the 9th inning). Opposing pitcher Ricky Romero had a good day as well, pitching 8.0 innings and allowed just one earned run (a solo homerun by Ben Zobrist in the 6th inning) on 5 hits. For his pitching performance, Romero would earn Player of the Game honours. Overall, the Rays offense was remarkably quiet today, with many hitters getting 0 for 4.



DH Jason Giambi claimed off waivers
Yes, in a rare turn of events, Jason Giambi was claimed off the waivers from the Cleveland Indians. There actually isn't much to like Jason Giambi: at age 43, he's old and has lost most of his contact and power ability, and of course, he's a liability if we put him anywhere on the field, even at first base. However, the one thing he does do well is somewhat unintentional: he is a popular with baseball fans (whether or not that fame is justified or not won't be debated here) and draws them to the seats. The Rays always had troubles getting fans to their seats, with a below average attendance of 11,500 per game. Placing Giambi on the roster is an interesting experiment for us, that will hopefully draw some fans for the time being, and although his performance will probably be replacement-level value, it won't be too damaging as long as we keep his at bats at a bare minimum. His $750k yearly salary isn't a lot considering the potential amount of money we can gain from increased fan interest and attendance.



DH Mike Carp placed on irrevocable waivers
Claiming Jason Giambi off waivers does cause one problem however, it means that we have to send someone down to make room for him. The obvious choice here is DH Mike Carp: he isn't performing as well as DH Luke Scott. Despite my best hopes for Mike Carp, he's just hit .203/.227/.441 so far, totalling 92 OPS+ and -0.1 WAR and VORP. Although he is out of minor league options, the chances of him being claimed off waivers by other teams is slim.



Series Summary:
The Rays would go even in the series against the Blue Jays in this four game series. Overall, the Rays starting pitching performed well at home against the Toronto batters. At the plate, the Rays batters were mostly silenced by the Toronto starters, with the sole exception of J.A. Happ. They were unable to force the starters out early so they could face the weaker Toronto bullpen. The Rays batters were only able to exploit the Blue Jays bullpen in full at the second game of the series. The Rays are currently 2nd in the division with a record of 21-15, 2 games back from the Boston Red Sox and 0.5 games ahead of the New York Yankees. In other news, Jason Giambi was claimed off waivers from the Cleveland Indians, and Mike Carp was placed on irrevocable waivers to make room for Giambi.

#25

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The next series at home will be against the NL West opponents San Diego Padres. The Padres are currently 17-17, 4th in their division and 3.5 games back from the division-leading Dodgers. The Padres own a 3.02 ERA and 2.72 ERA for their starting and bullpen pitching, both which are good for second in the NL rankings. While it is true that the Padres rotation and bullpen are strong, there is no doubt that their numbers are inflated due to their extremely pitcher-friendly ballpark at San Diego (for example, the starters ERA on the road is actually 4.30). Nevertheless, the Padres pitching does have talent, including CL Huston Street, recently signed SU Brian Wilson, SU Andrew Cashner, SP Edinson Volquez (who has an electric repertoire of pitches, but has issues with control), and many others. The only downside is that the Padres offense is one of the worst in the NL league, featuring a .230 batting average and a .291 OBP. Like the Rays, the Padres do have a number of offensively key players, including Carlos Quentin, Yonder Alonso, Chase Headley, and catching prospect Yasmani Grandal. The Rays do hold an advantage in offense so far. And while it is true that the Padres are playing away on the road, Tropicana Field is still a pitcher's park nevertheless, so this 3-game series is likely not going to be a high scoring matter for both teams.



Game 37: Tampa Bay Rays (22-15) vs. San Diego Padres (17-18) - May 10th, 2013
http://www.ootpdevel...=1&d=1392675916
Tampa Bay Rays starter David Price pitched an excellent start today. He went 8.0 innings and allowed one earned run on 3 hits, while striking out 7 and walking none. For his pitching performance today, Price would earn Player of the Game honours. 1B James Loney had a solo home run and a single today in a 2 for 4 performance with 1 RBI, while LF Matt Joyce had a two for three performance with a single, double, and a solo homerun culminating in 3 RBI. Aside from the contributions of these two players, the Rays offense was relatively silent despite.


Game 38: Tampa Bay Rays (23-15) vs. San Diego Padres (17-19) - May 11th, 2013
http://www.ootpdevel...=1&d=1392675916
Like Price before, Matt Moore dominated the Padres lineup today, going 8.0 innings and allowing just 2 earned runs on 4 hits while striking out 12 and walking just 1. For his impressive performance in today's game, Moore would be named Player of the Game. Jennings had a 3 hits at 5 at bats, including two doubles resulting in 2 RBI. Luke Scott and Yunel Escobar also had two hits this game, including two doubles and 1 RBI between them.


Game 39: Tampa Bay Rays (23-16) vs. San Diego Padres (18-20) - May 12th, 2013
http://www.ootpdevel...=1&d=1392675916
Padres ace Edinson Volquez stopped the Rays offense cold today, allowing just 1 earned run (a solo homerun by Ryan Roberts in the 8th inning) on 4 hits. Although he only had 4 strikeouts and 3 walks, the Rays hitters simply were unable to make good contact against his electric pitches. As a result, Volquez would earn Player of the Game honours today. Alex Cobb also pitched 8.0 innings and allowed 1 earned run as well, but the Padres were able to score another 3 runs on 3 separate errors, including one by Cobb himself when he failed to cleanly field the ball to 1st.


DH Mike Carp demoted to Triple-A Durham - May 12th, 2013
After clearing waivers, Mike Carp was demoted to Triple-A Durham after the game to make way for DH Jason Giambi, who will be added to the roster as of today.


Series Summary:
The Rays would get the most out of this series, winning two games out of the three game series. David Price and Matt Moore were excellent this series, and proved crucial to the Rays wins in the first two games. Our offense was inhibited by the good starting pitching of the Padres as well, but for the most part they were able to score enough runs to beat the Padres.

#26

alexf388
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The Rays will face the Boston Red Sox for another 3-game home series before we head back on the road again. The Boston Red Sox are currently 25-14, 2 games ahead of the Tampa Bay Rays and 1st in the AL East. As noted before, the Red Sox have a powerful offense that ranks in the top 3 of many offensive statistical categories. However, this offensive potential is obviously negated when the team is on the road; their 16-8 record at home versus their 10-8 record on the road is an indication of what happens when their offense is playing in other not so hitter-friendly parks. Their pitching, particularly their starting rotation, has not improved since the last time both teams have met: the starters' ERA has decreased to 5.25 ERA, good for second last in the American League. Their bullpen has remained steady with a 3.18 ERA, which is still good for 5th in the league. As we are playing at home, however, the Red Sox starting pitchers will likely benefit from Tropicana's pitcher-friendly dimensions, so the advantage of the Rays starters over the Red starters isn't as big as I'd like to think it is.


Game 40: Tampa Bay Rays (24-16) vs. Boston Red Sox (25-15) - May 14th, 2013
http://www.ootpdevel...=1&d=1392676893
Jeff Niemann faced off against Boston's Clay Buchholz today in a pitching duel that lasted the majority of the game. Niemann would pitch 8.0 innings, and allowed two earned runs from two solo homeruns (one by Jackie Bradley Jr. in the 3rd inning, and one by David Ortiz in the 6th inning). Buchholz would pitch a complete game, but would allow 3 earned runs on 5 hits, including a two-run home run by James Loney, in the process. Overall the Rays offense was relatively silent, and the main contributing factor in this game was definitely Jeff Niemann, who would win Player of the Game honours for his pitching performance.


Game 41: Tampa Bay Rays (25-16) vs. Boston Red Sox (25-16) - May 15th, 2013
http://www.ootpdevel...=1&d=1392676893
Another pitching duel would emerge between today's starters David Price and John Lackey. Price ended up allowing 2.0 runs on 4 hits in 8.0 innings of work, while striking out 9 batters and walking 1. Like Buchholz last night, Lackey pitched a complete game and allowed 3 earned runs on 5 hits, while striking out 3 and walking 3 as well. Once again the Rays offense was pretty much silent this game, with the only exception being catcher Jose Molina, who had a two hit game and hit a two-run double in the 2nd inning. Like Niemann yesterday, Price would be named Player of the Game for his pitching dominance this game.

Demoted Jamey Wright to Triple-A Durham - May 15th, 2013
Jamey Wright was demoted to Triple-A Durham to make room for Pat Egan. His ERA of 9.00 and FIP of 6.20 in 10.0 innings is not the kind of performance we want from a middle reliever.


Purchased the contract of MR Pat Egan from Triple-A Durham - May 15th, 2013
Pat Egan's contract has been purchased from Triple-A Durham following the demotion of Jamey Wright to the minors. Since signing a minor league contract with the Rays, Pat Egan so far has only pitched in 2.0 innings, where he had an ERA of 4.50. Although it certainly isn't promising, Egan did have promising numbers, including a 3.04 FIP against Double-A and Triple-A competition. In the majors, I figure it would translate anywhere between a 3.50 to 4.00 FIP. It's not the numbers of a dominant relief pitcher by any means, but it's definitely an improvement over the numbers Wright is currently pitching. And all I'm asking from Egan is to be an adequate middle relief pitcher, not an important position like being a setup pitcher or a closer.


Game 42: Tampa Bay Rays (25-17) vs. Boston Red Sox (26-16) - May 16th, 2013
http://www.ootpdevel...=1&d=1392676893
For the first time since his last start on May 4th, Jeremy Hellickson was allowed to start today's game against the Red Sox after recovering from his day-to-day sore elbow. Hellickson proved unable to stop the Red Sox offense, allowing 6 earned runs in 6.1 innings of work, including 2 two-run homeruns by Dustin Pedroia (for this effort, Pedroia was named Player of the Game). Despite an attempted comeback from the Rays batters in the ninth inning that resulted in 4 runs scored, including a 3-run homerun by Ryan Roberts, the Rays were unable to overcome the deficit.

Today's loss wasn't the only bad news. 2B Kelly Johnson was taken out early in the game after injuring himself while running the bases. Current diagnosis is not known, but hopefully there will be news soon. For now, Sean Rodriguez will be the starting second baseman for the Rays until a diagnosis on Johnson's injury can be confirmed.



Series Summary:
The Rays would win two games out of the three-game series, though both games were very close victories. The Rays starting pitching, in particular Jeff Niemann and David Price, did an excellent job in keeping the Red Sox batters guessing at their pitches in the first and second games. In all three games, the Rays offense had a lot of trouble getting good at bats against the Red Sox starters, and for the most part, they hit into easy groundball or flyball outs. The Rays are currently 25-17, 2nd in the standings, and 1 game back from the Red Sox after this series.

The Rays will also lose their 2B Kelly Johnson for now, when Johnson injured his leg while running the bases. The diagnosis isn't known yet, so no roster decision has been made yet so far.

#27

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The Rays are on the road once again, and will face the Orioles in a 3-game series, starting today. The Orioles are currently 14-26, 12 games back from the Red Sox, and are last in the AL East. The Orioles are still having trouble pitching and hitting consistently at any level. The team has a batting average of just .253 (9th in the league) and an OBP of .305 (12th in the league), but has hit a total of 58 homeruns (2nd). In other words, the lineup is impatient at the plate and looking to swing and hit the ball out of the park every time they go up to the plate. Though there are a few bright spots in the lineup, including OF Adam Jones (currently hitting .287/.332/.580) and rookie 3B Manny Machado (.329/.358/.474 so far this season), the rest of the batting order is a rather sorry sight. The same thing could be said of their pitching: besides SP Chris Tillman (3.47 ERA in 6 starts) and SP Miguel Gonzalez (3.14 ERA in 9 starts), the other pitchers have been terrible: the current starters' ERA is 4.75, and the bullpen ERA is 4.70. The Orioles Park at Camden Yards is a hitter's park, where the majority of the Orioles' homeruns have occurred. As a result, the team's home record is a pedestrian 11-9, compared to their atrocious road record of 4-19. The Orioles are clearly lacking in most offensive and pitching categories compared to the Rays, but obviously for the Rays to do well here, the pitchers have to keep the ball low in the zone and prevent home runs from which the Orioles will benefit most from.


Game 43: Baltimore Orioles (15-26) vs. Tampa Bay Rays (25-18) - May 17th, 2013
http://www.ootpdevel...=1&d=1392677347
Although Matt Moore was our projected starter for this game, it turns out that he was sick and not feeling well enough to pitch this game. This forced Maddon to start Alex Cobb this game on short rest and notice, and the result: 3 earned runs on 6 hits in 6.2 innings. Opposing pitcher Miguel Gonzalez pitched considerably better than the tired Alex Cobb today, going 8.0 innings and allowed just 2 earned runs on 4 hits (including a 2-run homerun by Zobrist in the 1st inning), while striking out 7 and walking 1. Even though Cobb was credited with the loss, Joel Peralta, who came substituted in for Cobb in the 7th inning, was the pitcher who sealed the loss for us, as he allowed 3 earned runs (a 3-run homerun by Baltimore's 2B Jonathan Schoop) to score in 1.0 innings. Besides Ben Zobrist, the Rays could not garner any offensive support for Cobb today.


Game 44: Baltimore Orioles (15-27) vs. Tampa Bay Rays (26-18) - May 18th, 2013
http://www.ootpdevel...=1&d=1392677347
Matt Moore started in today's game after missing out on yesterday's game, and did reasonably well, going 8.0 innings and allowing 4 earned runs to score, while striking out 7 and walking 2. Overall, Moore did a good job in keeping the ball low in the zone, and prevented the Orioles making solid contact and driving the ball out of the park. The Rays batters hit the Orioles pitchers hard today, with several players getting many hits, including Zobrist (who hit a 3-run homerun in the top of the 7th inning), DH Luke Scott (who hit a solo homerun in the 3rd inning), CF Desmond Jennings (who went 3 for 5, including a solo homerun in the 5th inning), and LF Matt Joyce (who went 2 for 4 and hit a solo homerun in the 6th inning). For his 2 for 5 performance, including his 3-run homerun, Zobrist would be named Player of the Game.


Game 45: Baltimore Orioles (15-28) vs. Tampa Bay Rays (27-18) - May 19th, 2013
http://www.ootpdevel...=1&d=1392677347
The Orioles pitchers were hit hard once again in this game. Opposing starter Chris Tillman was driven out just after 2.1 innings, where he allowed 5 earned runs to score, including a 3-run homerun by Ryan Roberts in the 3rd inning and a solo homerun by Matt Joyce in the 2nd inning. The Orioles bullpen offered no relief against the relentless Rays offense for the rest of the game, which eventually culminated into a 12-3 rout against the Orioles. Rays starter Jeff Niemann provided an excellent start this game, going 8.0 innings and allowing 3 earned runs on 8 hits in the process, while striking out 6 and walking 2 throughout the game. Ryan Roberts was later named Player of the Game for crushing 3-run homerun.


Series Summary:
The Rays managed to take two games of the three-game series. Overall, the Tampa Bay Rays pitching did a good job of limiting runs by preventing the Orioles from hitting homeruns in their home-run friendly park. Although the Rays offense was mostly quiet in the 1st game, they did significantly better than their Orioles counterparts in taking advantage of the hitter-friendly park. The Rays are still 2nd in the standings, 1 game back from the Boston Red Sox with a record of 27-18.

#28

alexf388
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Our next three-game road series will be against the Toronto Blue Jays, who are currently going 21-23 so far and 4th in the standings. The Blue Jays are still suffering from a slew of old and recently new injuries to their core members, including Jose Reyes (who won't return until 3 months later), Josh Johnson (out for another month), and recently injured Colby Rasmus (out for 2 weeks) and Jose Bautista (1 week left). In terms of team rankings, the team still suffers from poor pitching, especially their relief pitching which ranks dead last in the AL with an ERA of 5.55. The one thing the Blue Jays did improve was their offense, they are now slightly above average with a team batting average of .263 (6th in the league), an OBP of .321 (6th in the league), and a total of 54 home runs (3rd in the league). Despite the injuries to Colby Rasmus and Jose Bautista, both who are important pieces in the offensive lineup, the roster is still filled with offensively potent players, including 1B Edwin Encarnacion (.257/.343/.520) and Brett Lawrie (.291/.333/.582). The ballpark of the Toronto Blue Jays, Rogers Centre, is a hitter-friendly ballpark mostly because of its turf surface, which allows a significant larger number of ground ball hits to go through. Although it's still good practice for our pitchers to pitch for groundball outs, defence will be important into turning those groundballs into outs instead of hits. In terms of defence, the Rays have an advantage here, as they currently have a .699 defensive efficiency compared to the Jays' .684 defensive efficiency.


Kelly Johnson has been diagnosed with a lat strain - May 20th, 2013
Team trainer Stan Conte informed me that Kelly Johnson was diagnosed with a lat strain, which would sideline him for at least 2 weeks. It was decided to put Kelly Johnson on the 15-day DL. Of course, this would leave a spot in the roster and a hole at second base.


Purchased the contract of Wil Myers from Triple-A Durham - May 20th, 2013
Kelly Johnson's 2-week injury has left me little choice but to promote Wil Myers to the majors. Although Brandon Guyer, who was recently demoted to Triple-A following Zobrist's return from the DL, I decided not to considering his poor performance in Triple-A (250/.259/.404). This suggested his hitting performance the first month of April was nothing more than plain luck. On the other hand, Wil Myers continued to provide good batting numbers in Triple-A this year. He even improved his numbers from last year: .335/.448/.623. Myers improved his plate discipline significantly, and managed to earn the same number of walks and strikeouts at Triple-A Durham this year. The improved eye and plate discipline allowed him to hit the better pitches harder, resulting in a noticeable increase in his slugging percentage as well. Although defensively he isn't as good as we hoped him to be, his offensive prowess and ability to produce runs will compensate for his average defense. For now, Ben Zobrist has been named the starting second baseman, while Myers will be the Rays starting right fielder.


Game 46: Toronto Blue Jays (21-24) vs. Tampa Bay Rays (28-18) - May 20th, 2013
http://www.ootpdevel...=1&d=1392683689
David Price was hammered early by the Blue Jays offense today, and managed to pitch just 1.0 innings of work, allowing 5 earned runs including a grand slam by Adam Lind. However, the Rays hitters would make strike back in the 2nd and 3rd innings, scoring 7 runs against the hapless Toronto starter J.A. Happ. For the rest of the game, the Rays bullpen held firm, allowing just one more earned run for the rest of the game. The Blue Jays bullpen could not do the same against the incessant Rays offense, however, and allowed another 5 runs to score, including a 2-run homerun by Desmond Jennings in the 5th inning. Catcher Jose Molina hit 3 doubles today, which garnered him 4 RBI this game; for this performance, Molina would earn Player of the Game honours. In his first MLB game, Wil Myers went 1 for 4, getting his first hit with a single, and also went on to score a run for the Rays.


Game 47: Toronto Blue Jays (21-25) vs. Tampa Bay Rays (29-18) - May 21st, 2013
http://www.ootpdevel...=1&d=1392683689
Compared to yesterday's free-for-all hit game, today's game was much quieter in terms of offense. Rays starter Jeremy Hellickson would face off against Toronto's starter Ricky Romero. Hellickson would win on this occasion, and allowed just 1 earned run in 8.0 innings of work, while striking out 7 and walking 2. After the game, Hellickson was accorded Player of the Game honours. Romero, on the other hand, would allow 4 earned runs in 6.0 innings, including a 2-run homerun by Desmond Jennings and a solo homerun by Jose Molina. The Rays offense was finally silenced for the rest of the game when the Toronto bullpen took over, but the damage was already done.


Game 48: Toronto Blue Jays (21-26) vs. Tampa Bay Rays (30-18) - May 22nd, 2013
http://www.ootpdevel...=1&d=1392683689
Matt Moore faced off against the Toronto hitters today, and pitched an impressive 8.0 inning performance, allowing 1 earned run while striking out 9 batters and walking 3. The Rays lineup, which was quiet yesterday, came back to life today and mauled Toronto's Mark Buehrle, scoring 5 runs against the veteran starter until he was taken out in the third inning. The Toronto bullpen allowed another 4 earned runs until they finally managed to stop the bleeding by the last two innings of the game. Although there were exceptional hitting performances today by many players, including Desmond Jennings, Jose Molina, and Ben Zobrist, the Player of the Game award would go to Matt Moore for his dominating start.


Series summary:
The Rays would sweep the Blue Jays in this 3-game series. The Tampa Bay Rays starting pitcher, for the most part, did a good job against the Toronto hitters despite pitching in a hitter-friendly park. On the other hand, the Rays hitters exploited the weakened Toronto pitching to the full in the first and third game, allowing the Rays to win those two games with ease. The Rays are now 30-18 and are now first in the AL East division, and are 1 game ahead of the Boston Red Sox.
In other news, Kelly Johnson was placed on the DL for a 2-week stint. In place of Johnson, Ben Zobrist was moved to second base, while Wil Myers was called up from Triple-A to be the Rays starting right fielder.

#29

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The Rays will return back home to face the New York Yankees. The Yankees are now 25-22, 3rd in the AL East division, and 5.5 games back from the first place Rays. Since our last game with the Yankees, the team from the Bronx are still doing a decent job offensively, considering they are still missing key team players such as 3B Alex Rodriguez and 1B Mark Texeira. The return of SS Derek Jeter and CF Curtis Granderson hasn't helped much though, as both Jeter and Granderson are hitting .295/.303/.352 and .167/.167/.167 respectively since coming back from the DL. Meanwhile, the Yankees starting rotation continues to suffer mightily, either from their hitter-friendly confines or from their lack of a good defense (the Yankees have a defensive efficiency of .678, good for 13th in the league). With the Yankees playing on our home turf this series, the Yankees pitching will probably pitch a lot better this series than if they played at home. Nevertheless, the Rays do feature a better starting rotation, bullpen, and overall defense compared to the Yankees.


Game 49: Tampa Bay Rays (31-18) vs. New York Yankees (25-23) - May 24th, 2013
http://www.ootpdevel...=1&d=1392754296
Alex Cobb would face off against Andy Pettitte today. Cobb pitched a solid game today, allowing 4 earned runs in 7.0 innings of work on 10 hits, including two back to back solo homeruns by DH Travis Hafner and 1B Lyle Overbay. Pettitte was driven out after 4.0 innings, when he allowed 6 earned runs to score, including a three-run home run by Jose Molina, and a two-run homerun by Ryan Roberts. The Yankees bullpen silenced the Rays offense for the rest of the game, but the 6 runs scored by the Rays would be more than enough to win the game.



Game 50: Tampa Bay Rays (32-18) vs. New York Yankees (25-24) - May 25th, 2013
http://www.ootpdevel...=1&d=1392754296
New York's ace C.C. Sabathia would face off against Rays ace David Price. Both pitchers pitched well: Sabathia went 7.0 innings and allowed 3 earned runs to score on 7 hits, while striking out 6 and walking 2. David Price would be the better pitcher, allowing just 1 earned run on 5 hits in 8.0 innings (a solo homerun by DH Travis Hafner) while striking out 4 and walking 1. For his pitching performance this game, Price would be named Player of the Game.


Game 51: Tampa Bay Rays (33-18) vs. New York Yankees (25-25) - May 26th, 2013
http://www.ootpdevel...=1&d=1392754296
Jeff Niemann faced off today against Phil Hughes in today's game. Both pitchers pitched excellent today, with Phil Hughes pitching a complete game against the Rays hitters, but allowed 2 earned runs in the process. Our defense made the different here today, as the Rays infield completed three double plays (despite one error on James Loney) while the Yankees could only do one. This allowed Niemann to pitch 8.0 innings of work, and allowed 5 hits and no earned runs in the process. Niemann would go on to earn Player of the Game honours for today's performance.



Series Summary:
The Rays would sweep the Yankees, and are now on a 7-game winning streak. Although the Rays lineup was inhibited in this series compared to the last series with the Blue Jays, the Rays starting pitching remained excellent against opposing batters, and with help from the Rays defense, the starters were crucial components in the sweep against the Yankees. The Rays are now 33-18, 1st in the AL East. The 2nd place Boston Red Sox are 2.5 games back from the Rays.

#30

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The Tampa Bay Rays will play the Marlins at Tropicana Field for the first two games, and then move over to nearby Marlins Park for their last two games. This interleague series is known as the Citrus series, though there isn't really a serious rivalry between the two teams. The Miami Marlins are suffering what the Rays suffered many, many years ago: bad ownership. Jeffrey Loria, current owner of the Miami Marlins, is quickly filling the title of baseball's most hated owner since Vince Naimoli of the Devil Rays. Throughout his tenure as the owner of the Marlins, he forced the franchise to trade its impact players for prospects, bullied the public into building the privately owned Marlins park with taxpayer money, and is virtually uninterested in taking the Marlins to the championships. Expectations of the Marlins are not high this year, as the Marlins traded key players on their 2012 team, including Josh Johnson, Mark Buehrle, Jose Reyes, Emilio Bonfiacio and John Buck to the Toronto Blue Jays in a blockbuster firesale. The Marlins are currently 24-26, 4th in their league, and 6 games back from the division-leading Phillies. The Marlins are struggling offensively as a team: although they have a .261 batting average (good for 2nd in the NL standings), they have a .308 OBP (9th in the NL) and a .377 SLG (10th in the NL). At the moment, the only bright spot in the Miami lineup is RF Giancarlo Stanton, who has so far hit .247/.322/.522 this year, a regression from previous years. On the mound, the Marlins have a young but extremely capable rotation, with pitchers like Nathan Eovaldi, Jose Fernandez, and Henderson Alvarez expected to be Marlins starters for years to come. The combined ERA of the aforementioned top three starters is a very respectable 3.01. Nevertheless, compared to the NL league, the Miami Marlins only have a starting ERA of 3.87 and a bullpen ERA of 4.25. Overall, the Rays lineup is offensively and defensively better than the Marlins lineup, although the batters may face difficulty against the likes of starters Eovaldi, Fernandez, and Alvarez.



Game 52: Miami Marlins (24-27) vs. Tampa Bay Rays (34-18) - May 27th, 2013
http://www.ootpdevel...=1&d=1392777844
Jeremy Hellickson faces Marlins ace Nathan Eovaldi in the first game of the Citrus series. Hellickson and Eovaldi dueled with each other throughout most of the game, and although Eovaldi came out the better starter (8.0 IP, 2 ER, 10H 4 KK, 0 BB) the Marlins closer Steve Cishek would blow the save: with two outs and Matt Joyce at 2nd, Wil Myers hit a line drive, walk-off homerun to left field to win the game for the Rays. It was Myers' first homerun of his MLB career, and it was definitely a memorable one at that. Hellickson did a decent job as well, allowing 3 runs in 7.0 innings (including a solo homerun by Giancarlo Stanton), while striking out 9 and walking 1.



Game 53: Miami Marlins (24-28) vs. Tampa Bay Rays (35-18) - May 28th, 2013
http://www.ootpdevel...=1&d=1392777844
Rays no. 2 starter Matt Moore would face against Marlins no. 2 starter Henderson Alvarez. Unlike yesterday, Moore was the clear victor in today's game: he pitched 7.0 innings, allowed no earned runs, 4 hits, and struck out 10 batters and walked just one. Alvarez was forced out after just 2.2 innings, after he had allowed 7 earned runs to score in the third inning, including a three-run homerun by 2B Ben Zobrist. The Marlins bullpen managed to close the Rays offense down after the 5th inning, but not before allowing another 2 runs to score. The Marlins offense managed to score one earned run against Joel Peralta in the last inning (a solo shot by 2B Matt Downs), but otherwise, it was a very silent game for the Marlins offense. For his outstanding start today, Matt Moore would be named Player of the Game.



Game 54: Tampa Bay Rays (35-19) vs. Miami Marlins (25-28) - May 29th, 2013
http://www.ootpdevel...=1&d=1392777844
The Rays are now in the Marlins Ballpark for the remainder of this series. Rays no.3 starter Alex Cobb faced against Marlins no.3 starter Jose Fernandez. Cobb was taken out after allowing 3 earned runs in 5.5 innings on 5 hits, while managing to strike out 3 and walking 4. Rays MR Cesar Ramos and Roberto Hernandez would allow another 4 earned runs to score in the eighth inning, allowing the Marlins to win this game with relative ease. Jose Fernandez pitched an excellent game today, and went 8.0 innings whilst allowing just 1 earned run (a solo homerun by Luke Scott). Following today's loss, the Marlins broke the Rays 10-game winning streak that began May 18th, 2013.



Game 55: Tampa Bay Rays (36-19) vs. Miami Marlins (25-29) - May 29th, 2013
http://www.ootpdevel...=1&d=1392777850
Niemann started in the final game against the Marlins in this series. He allowed just two earned runs (including a solo homerun by Giancarlo Stanton) in 7.0 innings. Niemann struck out 4 batters and walked 1 during his start. The rest of the Rays bullpen had no problem stopping the Marlins offense cold in today's close game. SS Yunel Escobar had a good game today, going 3 for 4 including two doubles. For his pitching performance today, Niemann was named Player of the Game.


Series Summary:
The Rays won three games of the four-game series against the Miami Marlins. The Rays starting pitching, for the most part, continued its impressive performance against the offensive deficient Marlins. As predicted, the Rays offense struggled against the likes of Marlins starters Eovaldi and Fernandez, though our starting pitching was good enough to make up for the lack of runs scored. The Rays are now 37-19, good for 1st in the AL East. The Red Sox have fallen back to 32-25 5.5 games back from the Rays.

#31

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The next team the Rays will face on the road will be against the Cleveland Indians. The Indians are currently 24-30, 3rd in the AL Central Division, and 8.5 games back from the first-place division rivals the Detroit Tigers. The Indians are average offensively so far, with the team hitting .252 (8th in the league) and having an OBP of .331 (6th in the league) and scoring 274 runs (6th). So far the Indians offense is being led by 2B Jason Kipnis and SS Asrdrubal Cabrera. Their bullpen is above average, and have managed a 3.11 ERA so far this season thanks to their setup men Cody Allen and Vinnie Pestano, and also their closer Chris Perez. The only significant problem the Indians have is with their starting rotation, which has pitched a terrible ERA of 4.92. Their only starter who has an ERA of above 4.00 is Carlos Zambrano, who has pitched an ERA of 3.62 in 7 starts so far. Progressive Field is overall a pitcher's park overall, so the Rays starting pitchers should probably have no problem against the Indians hitters, while the reverse might not be true for the Indians pitchers.


Game 56: Tampa Bay Rays (37-19) vs. Cleveland Indians (24-31) - May 31st, 2013
http://www.ootpdevel...=1&d=1392786671
The series opener starts with the Rays hitters hammering away at the Indians ace Ubaldo Jimenez. Jimenez allowed 5 earned runs to score in 5.1 innings, including a two-run homerun by DH Luke Scott. Price went 8.0 innings and allowed just 1 earned run, though he had trouble at certain times, as he allowed 6 hits and 4 walks while striking out just 2. The Indians bullpen took over for Jimenez in the 6th inning, and allowed no more runs to score after that. For his pitching performance today, David Price was awarded Player of the Game honours.


Game 57: Tampa Bay Rays (37-20) vs. Cleveland Indians (25-31) - June 1st, 2013
http://www.ootpdevel...=1&d=1392786671
The Indians struck back in today's game, scoring 8 runs in 3 innings against Rays starter Jeremy Hellickson. Hellickson was taken out in the 4th inning, after he had allowed a grand slam home run by 3B Lonnie Chisenhall. Roberto Hernandez and Pat Egan would allow another 3 runs to score in the 7th inning before the game's end. Indians starter Carlos Zambrano did an excellent job stopping the Rays offense cold today, as he went 7.1 innings and allowed just 1 earned run to score on 4 hits, although one more run would score on 1B Mark Reynolds' error.


Game 58: Tampa Bay Rays (38-20) vs. Cleveland Indians (25-32) - June 2nd, 2013
http://www.ootpdevel...=1&d=1392786671
Rays starter Matt Moore pitched another excellent game today. He pitched 7.1 innings, and allowed just 1 earned run on 3 hits. He also managed to strike out 10 batters, and walked just 3. Indians starter Zach McAllister also did a good job today against the Rays hitters, going 7.0 innings and allowing 2 runs to score in that duration, but it was not good enough to win the game. For his outstanding pitching performance in today's game, Moore would be named Player of the Game.


Series Summary:
The Rays would win two games out of this three-game series against Cleveland. The Rays pitching was once again (for the most part) crucial in the series win against the Indians. The Rays offense could not take advantage of the Indians' worse starters despite their worse performance against other teams this year, with the exception of Ubaldo Jimenez in the first game. By the time the Indians bullpen came on, the Rays offense was stopped cold in all of the games played in this series. The Rays are now 38-20, 1st in the AL East Division. The Boston Red Sox are 4.5 games back from the first place Rays.




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