May 6, 2012

Why did we lose this series with Oakland? It's simple...

by Aaron Giddens

Will Rhymes fails to field a ball at third Friday night
Will Rhymes fails to field a ball at third Friday night.
Courtesy: Chris O'Meara/AP
Why did we lose this series with Oakland? It's really simple, cold bats mean no runs. And horrible pitching means an insurmountable lead to overcome with cold bats. In particular starting pitching.

Yes, David Price turned out an absolute gem Friday night in the first game of the series. However it was down hill from there in the series. The last two starters in the series, Jeremy Hellickson and Matt Moore, went a combined 8.1 IP (3.2 IP and 4.2 IP respectively). Hellboy threw 28 pitches in the first inning alone of his start, 9 of those to Reddick who ended up homering. Moore, however, started strong and just collapsed.

On the other end, the Offense wasn't that good either. The Rays offense, for entire series combined, had 11 runs in the first four innings. In the latter five (eight in Saturday's case), combined again, just 2. 24 hits in those first 4 innings and just 7 after words. With runners in scoring position the Rays went 5 for 20, leaving a total of 22 runners stranded in the series. Our big slugger, Carlos Pena went 2 for 11 in the series with only 1 RBI, his solo home run in Saturday's game.

Statistically speaking, it's not hard to see why we lost the last two games of the series. If David Price hadn't turned in that gem in game 1, we might have been swept. The Rays have struggled against Oakland in recent years, and it appears this year won't be an exception.

The important thing is that the Rays rebound, they're 19-10 second place in the AL East by half a game behind Baltimore. It's still only May, there is still PLENTY of hope to go around, but we can't have pitching and offensive outages like this if we hope to make this season special.

The Rays need to get off to a hot start when they resume play Tuesday night in the Bronx. It won't be easy though, they're facing Ivan Nova. A pitcher who has only had 1 losing decision dating back to June 10th last year (his last start against the Orioles).

Again, it's only May and a few select people on Twitter may be right. It might be too early to start standings watching, however, it's never too early to capture good momentum and keep it. And while the Rays are on a roll, the poor performances like the ones in the last two games can derail that in a heartbeat.

I believe the Rays still have what it takes with every fiber of my being. They need to figure out if they want it themselves. We the fans can't do it for them. Find your bats, find your ability to pitch and let's win this thing.

**Statistics via MLB.com and Baseball-Reference.com**

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