Being a Tampa Bay Rays fan at the moment is rather like being on a funky crazy roller coaster ride.
You’ve got the lows – let’s take Friday night’s dismal performance as an example. Cold bats + accommodating pitching = 5-0 loss. Having two members of the starting rotation on the DL, in addition to part of the bullpen and the regular first baseman. Aaah!
You’ve got the highs – the reappearance (knock on wood – don’t want to jinx anything) of an offense/hitting game. Fifteen hits on Saturday. Eight hits on Sunday. Some jaw-dropping defensive plays. And get-er-done pitching from rise-to-the-occasion bullpen guys and arms of the future. Wheee!
Plus there’s the fun of checking to see where the other players in the pennant race mix are on their rides – it’s that time of year when one eye is on the field and one eye is on the scoreboard watching other game scores roll by. That’s right, Yankees. We’re all watching you.
Never a dull moment being a Rays fan. I’m either cheering or jeering – sometimes within the span of a couple of minutes.
Tonight adds another twist to the coaster ride – a classic pitchers’ showdown. When was the last time we had one of those ‘round these parts? David Price, the earnest, goofily charming guy with a 2.84 ERA and a piece of the most wins statistic in the American League right now versus Cliff Lee, new to the Texas Rangers but with a Cy Young award on his mantle. Two gunslingers facing off.
It’s got the makings of a classic – on paper. But whether or not this is a game we are going to want to talk about post-mortem depends on which Rays team takes the field. It cannot be won just from the mound alone. Run support is critical. And the defense must play to its potential.
There are no throwaway games at this point in the season. Tonight’s game is as important as any in recent weeks. Given the caliber of the pitchers, it’s going to receive some additional attention. The roller coaster needs to stay firmly at the top for this one. Regardless of what happens, high or low, it’s going to be an interesting ride.