Rays Not The Same Without Evan Longoria

The Boston Red Sox opened the 2018 season at Tampa Bay by taking 3-of-4 games against the Rays. While the Rays were paying tribute to the 1998 inaugural team, they were doing so without Evan Longoria.

The Rays were one franchise before Longoria and a completely different one during his decade long tenure at Tropicana Field. In Tampa Bay’s first 10 years in MLB, they were known as the Devil Rays and their lone highlight was Wade Boggs hitting a home runs for his 3,000 hit.

Longoria made his MLB debut in 2008. The Rays, dropped the “Devil” and clinched their first winning season, division title, and World Series appearance. The Rays were on the other side of the Red Sox’s 2011 “chicken and beer” collapse. Their last playoff appearance was a ALDS loss to the Red Sox in 2013 but they were close to returning last year.

Longoria is a career .270 hitter who led the Rays with 261 career home runs and 892 RBI. He was traded to the San Francisco Giants for Denard Span and a crop of prospects. Span hit a clutch 3-run RBI triple to cap off a 6-run eighth inning, leading the Rays to a 6-4, come from behind, Opening Day win.

The Rays also shed a lot of their power by trading Corey Dickerson to Pittsburgh and letting Logan Morrison and Lucas Duda walk in free agency. They will once again look to rely on pitching and defense. The Rays lost three straight games against the Red Sox despite holding them to three runs or less each game.

Longoria, meanwhile, went hitless in his first series with the Giants. But that hardly makes the trade a big victory for Tampa Bay.

Red Sox-Rays Is An Underrated Rivalry

The Rays began in 1998 but it seemed like it didn’t take long for the franchise to choose Boston as their rival.

The two teams were initially linked when legendary third baseman Wade Boggs christened the franchise’s arrival to MLB in 1998 and capped his Hall of Fame career with a home run as his 3,000 career hit in 1999. He wears a Red Sox cap in his HOF plaque but originally wanted a Rays cap.

The battles truly began in 2000, when Pedro Martinez beaned Gerald Williams and started a brawl. The Rays were in the midst of their first winning season in 2008 and established themselves as a legit contender in a fight that had Red Sox outfielder Coco Crisp dodge a punch thrown by Rays pitcher James Shields like he was in the Matrix. Their most recent scuffle came in 2014, when David Price was still the Tampa Bay ace. Price joined the Red Sox in 2016 and patched things up with David Ortiz.

The Rays and Red Sox will face off at the Boston home opener in Fenway Park this afternoon.

 

Red Sox Learning To Take The Lead In Late Innings

One of the things that frustrated Red Sox Nation last year was the team’s inability to come from behind. An opposing team would outscore them, and the Red Sox couldn’t catch up. They’d load the bases but their hitter would strike out. Or they’d leave runners in scoring position inning after inning. In fact, they led the American League last year in runners left on base. With the Red Sox learning how to take the offensive in later inningRed Sox learnings fans are finally seeing a different tone.

Four of their eight wins as of April 17th were come-from-behind victories. Red Sox found themselves behind the Pittsburg Pirates during their makeup game on the 13th. Down 3-1 going into the 8th, Hanley Ramirez’s doubled home the winning run. The Red Sox did it again on Easter Sunday three days later against Tampa Bay. Down 5-4 in the seventh, the Red Sox rallied to pull ahead 7-5 by the ninth inning.

Even in instances where they didn’t win, they still showed strong effort. In an April 12th game against the Orioles, the Red Sox were down 9-0 going into the third. Despite losing the game, they finished the game 12-5. Win or lose, this was an issue the Red Sox sorely needed to work on from last season.

“The one thing that’s starting to show is that we’ve come from behind a number of games already,” manager John Farrell said in an article posted to Full Count on Weei.com.

With The Red Sox Learning To Come From Behind, Pitching Remains a Problem

I don’t think anyone anticipated the problems that the Red Sox rotation would have going into the 2017 season. We expected to see David Price at this point but he’s still down and out. Rick Porcello and Steve Wrignt have already taken their fair share of devastating losses. The Matt Barnes fiasco with Manny Machado isn’t helping things either.

Last year’s pitching was strong. Price dominated with strikeouts and Porcello became a 20-game winner. It was the offense that struggled at times. Now that the offense is heating up. it’s the pitching that’s struggling. If Farrell can find that balance the team needs, the Red Sox will be able to capture and hold onto first place.

Red Sox Secure 2016 Playoff Spot

The Boston Red Sox recently clinched a playoff spot after two dismal seasons. Along with the Texas Rangers, and most likely the Cleveland Indians, the Boston Red Sox will soon begin their march towards the World Series. This means that all eyes will now focus on the playoffs. So if the Red Sox secure victories from Texas, Cleveland, and/or the Wild Card victor, they will advance to the World Series.

During the season many thought the Red Sox would finish in the cellar again. Injuries, bad pitching,red sox secure and runners left on base kept them out of contention. The calls to fire John Farrell grew louder as the summer progressed. Careless plays frustrated fans to no end. Some said that’s just baseball. They said you can’t win them all. That’s true, but to some their victories came from a lack of trying. That’s obviously no longer true, but the thought still lingers for some.

To see the Red Sox secure a playoff spot tempts fans to think about what was once unthinkable: winning the World Series. Before 2004, the dangerous thought more often than not disappointed fans. But with championships in 2004, 2007, and 2013, fans feel safer hoping again.

As Red Sox Secure a Playoff Spot, We Look to Our Other Contenders

The road to the World Series won’t be an easy one. While the Red Sox held their own against Cleveland this season, Indians pitchers Danny Salazar and Corey Kluber still concern the Sox lineup. The Indians also know how to bat around Clay Buchholz. Despite his recent improvements, Buchholz can’t take Cleveland for granted. As for Texas, the Red Sox beat them three out of six games this season. So the good news is that the Red Sox have done fairly well against their possible playoff contenders. The bad news, however, is that the Red Sox haven’t played them as much as they’ve played other teams like Baltimore and Tampa Bay.

In order to beat back the other AL teams, the Red Sox will have to closely study each pitcher and hitter they face. CLOSELY study each and every one. The Cleveland Indians are hungry for a World Series of their own given they haven’t won one since 1948. The Texas Rangers haven’t won even one World Series. That quest for titles of their own will make them worthy contenders.

Despite Clevel

Weak Red Sox Pitching Is All Too Familair

I took my friend Justin to his very first Red Sox game last Thursday where he saw David Price take on the Tampa Bay Rays. I told him that weak Red Sox pitching was no longer a problem since we signed Price last year, but as the game progressed into the third inning, Justin looked at me and rolled his eyes as we watched the Red Sox give up run after run. Weak Red Sox PitchingI rolled my eyes too as I started having flashbacks to last season.

Like many in the Red Sox nation, I was excited when we signed David Price. The 5-time all-star and 2012 Cy Young Award Winner was exactly the pitcher the Red Sox needed after a dismal 2015 season that saw a 4.31 collective ERA from the pitching staff. But Price’s meltdown against the Tampa Bay Rays on April 21st is making many in the Red Sox Nation think twice about whether the money he’s being paid ($217 million) is worth it.

The true panic set in Thursday afternoon when the Red Sox ace gave up eight runs in 3 and 2/3rd innings, a career high for Price. Even Tampa Bay’s Curt Casali, who went into the three-game series with a .198 lifetime batting average, hit three home runs in eight at-bats with a .625 batting average against the Red Sox, including one off of Price on Thursday. No one, however, was harder on David Price than himself. Price even posted the following on Twitter after the game: “Tough day yesterday but I WILL get better!! Stick with me #soxnation I’m determined to make all of you love me!! Price will have to work hard to bring his current ERA of 7.06 down to a more respectable level.

Weak Red Sox pitching has accounted for many of its losses this season. While Clay Buchholz pitched a solid game against Toronto on Patriot’s Day, he was in pieces against Baltimore on April 12, giving up 5 runs in 5 innings. Joe Kelly went on the DL after throwing a few pitches against Tampa Bay on April 19th, and Eduardo Rodriguez, who showed amazing skill as a rookie last year, is still on the DL and isn’t expected to return until May at the earliest.

While the Red Sox bats are starting to heat up, the pitching staff has to step it up to keep the opposition at bay or risk falling back into the cellar of the American League for a third straight year.

Rain Delay Sends Tampa Bay back to Fenway

Tampa Bay vs. Boston

Forget about their day off, the Sox had a game to play, Monday, July 29.  Thursday night, July 25, the Sox and the Rays were scheduled to play at Fenway.  Due to rain, it was postponed until further notice.  Well, Monday came and the teams were back in action.  Both teams were scheduled for a day off.  It appeared that wouldn’t be happening unless there was another rain out which, at the time I was writing, the skies were blue and it didn’t seem possible.

Another important game was ahead of the two teams. After all, the Rays were trailing the Sox by 1/2 a game. In fact, if it weren’t for Tampa’s loss, Sunday, July 21,  they would be in the number one seat and the Sox would take second.   The two teams went neck and neck Monday evening, July 29.   With records standing at  (63-43) and (62-43), Red Sox, Rays, this game was crucial for the Sox to remain in the number one seat in the AL East Division.  I hope everyone was watching!

Felix Dubront took to the mound Monday evening, even though he drew a loss against the Rays in previous events at the Fenway stadium. Was this a situation where we fans should have been frightful of? Based on Dubront’s stats I didn’t think so.  Despite the loss, in retrospect, we can see he remains solid on the mound. Throughout the season, Dubront has allowed 27 hits and 12 earned runs, and has struck out 103 over 112 innings; this in return for a 7-4 record with a 3.78 ERA.  David Price, on the other hand, the starting pitcher for Tampa Bay Monday evening, is also a stellar performer even after coming back from the DL.  In retrospect, he has allowed 96 hits and 40 earned runs while striking out 76 over 96 innings; this in return for a 5-5 record and 3.75 ERA. So there were two really impressive pitchers on the mound Monday night, for both teams.  Who would prevail and who would go down with a loss? The Sox needed a big win.  After all, it was quite a fright to be in second for that one painstaking moment….

The saga continues in the following post, “Bad Call Sends Boston Back”

The Red Sox remained at home this past week with games against the Seattle Mariners and the Arizona Diamondbacks.