The Tampa Bay Rays have been inconsistent throughout the first month of the season, and this trend continued in their series against the AL East leading New York Yankees. The Rays lost 5-1 in a twelve-inning game on Sunday afternoon. Joe Maddon decided to have CJ Riefenhauser intentionally walk Jacoby Ellsbury to load the bases, and face Dean Anna with two outs. Riefenhauser then surrendered a walk on a 3-2 pitch, in which Anna was able to check his swing and force in the game-winning run. From there, things unraveled and the Rays would end up allowing another three runs to put the game out of reach. After losing two straight to the Baltimore Orioles, the Rays split their series with the Yankees 2-2.
The Rays are 9-10 on the season, and have already had to deal with a large amount of injuries to their pitching staff. This is not a team that is built to score a ton of runs in every game, which means that they may be in some serious trouble if injuries continue to be a problem. The Rays have had month filled with offensive inconsistency, which has been recently highlighted by the fact that they scored sixteen runs against the Yankees on Saturday, only to score one run in yesterday’s twelve-inning effort.
After having a day off today, the Rays need to get reorganized as they prepare for a three game-series with the Minnesota Twins on Tuesday, followed by a ten-game road trip in which they will play both the Boston Red Sox and the Yankees. Joe Maddon needs to get his team motivated before they find themselves falling behind in a tight AL East. Although the major league season is extremely long, and there will be plenty of chances to make up ground, the Rays want to do whatever they can to make sure they do not end up too far in the hole. The more games they find themselves out of first place, the less optimistic and motivated they will become.
It is up to veteran players like David Price and Evan Longoria to make sure that everybody is doing their part, and that this team is playing up to its potential. Although they have had some tough injuries, nobody is going to feel bad for them and it will end up as nothing more than a poor excuse for not winning. Almost every team has to deal with devastating injuries at some point throughout the season, and it is only the really good teams that are able to still succeed. The Rays need to prove their strength and the fact that they are a team that can overcome injuries with the depth of their roster.