Yesterday, commenter Travis asked when the Rays are going to have an upswing. And, let’s be honest, that is the question hanging over all our heads because we all know (hope?) that this team isn’t a 16-win team and are anxiously awaiting the day when they stop playing like one.
After following my wife’s direction to stay positive all weekend (Friday Night: “You are the biggest pessimist. I told you not to give up.”; Sunday Afternoon after I finished the yard: “Just don’t ask. They’ll turn it around while you get cleaned up.”) I have basically propped up my sanity on the assumption that last year’s team hit long offensive dry spells on its way to scoring 802 runs, third best total in the American League. So I looked it up and, well, it isn’t good news.
For all of the hand-wringing about last season’s “offense,” the Rays hung up a lot of crooked numbers in 2010. While the 2010 Rays certainly had some peaks and valleys, the lows were rarely this low and were never this long. The 2010 Rays scored 1 or fewer runs a total of 25 times in 2010 (not counting Cliff Lee in the ALDS which, according to my memory, never actually happened). The 2011 Rays already have 1/5th of that total locked up. More importantly, the 2010 Rays spread those stink bombs around. They had only three 5-game stretches in which they 1 or fewer runs 3 or more times (May 21-25, June 20-24, Aug. 4-8). But, in 2 of those 5-game spans, the Rays broke up the 1-run games with double-digit totals. In fact, the 2010 Rays were held to 2 or fewer runs 37 times but followed 18 of those 37 stink bombs (48.6%) with a 5+ run performance.
That means that the first 10 games of 2011 are worse than anything we saw in 2010. As Travis pointed out, the Rays’ pitchers have been able to keep most of these games close (I don’t have the energy or sanity to worry about the offense, Jeff Niemann, AND Jake McGee so, Niemann and McGee get lumped in with the success of their teammates just for my own personal well-being) but 19 runs just isn’t going to cut it in the American League.
I don’t know if this team has another 5+ run breakout in it but, if it does, this series in Boston would be a good place to use it. The Red Sox look to be fully recovered from their slow start and things could get ugly fast in Fenway if the Rays don’t get things right.