The Rays lost 5-1 Sunday giving the Athletics a sweep of the slumping team that is now 5 1/2 games behind Boston in the AL East and only 3 games ahead of Baltimore and 3 1/2 games ahead of the surging Yankees for the second wild card slot. The loss is Tampa's seventh in the last eight games.
Joe I'm so much smarter than you look at my geek nerd glasses, etc. Maddon took a break from quoting Nietzsche during press conferences to dream up the idea of using all relievers in the critical game against the A's. I'm sure it looks like a great idea when you're on X-BOX or playing fantasy baseball or something, but there's a reason teams don't do stuff like this when it counts.
Jamey Wright, who abhors starting, naturally got the start and gave up a lead off home run to Coco Crisp (that name always cracks me up, yes, even when he played for Boston) that got the Rays in a quick hole they never recovered from. Had to be a real confidence booster for Roberto Hernandez to see his coach essentially throw in the towel rather than start him in a game. I wonder how ole Fausto will respond next time he's given the ball?
Both Maddon and the posters on the Rays site are saying things for the slumping team will get better once the bats return. Problem is, the earlier stretch of "big hitting Rays" is the aberration, not the current .217 average/.186 risp the team is sporting during their slump. This has always been a light hitting team that relied on excellent pitching and gold glove defense to win games. This year's surprising offensive explosion is the only reason they're in sniffing distance of the post season.
Maybe Matt Moore will come back healthy. Maybe Luke "where's the force?" Scott will remember what end of the bat to hold. Maybe Delmon Young will suddenly improve his unimpressive power numbers when he returns to his old team. But that's a lot of maybe's to pin your post season hopes on.
Meanwhile, Boston squeaked out a 7-6 win over Chicago to give the first place Sox another series sweep to pad their division lead. Felix Doubront continued his vexing pattern of pitching crappy every other start, but the impressive Brandon Workman picked him up to get the win. Craig Breslow also continued a disturbing trend of coming in and giving up a home run in relief. Local sportswriters' supposed weak link Koji Uehara got the save.
Boston has division leading Detroit coming into town for a series as Tampa heads west to face the middle-of-the-pack Los Angeles Angels. Still time for the Rays to close things up in the East. But those, like the trolls at the Rays website, who are counting on another historic collapse by the Sox will be disappointed. This isn't that team. Gonna have to earn your way in this time fellas.