ST PETERSBURG, FL - MAY 14: Pitcher Wade Davis #40 of the Tampa Bay Rays pitches against the Baltimore Orioles during the game at Tropicana Field on May 14, 2011 in St. Petersburg, Florida. (Photo by J. Meric/Getty Images)

Wade Davis Struggles, Sean Rodriguez Makes Three Errors As Rays Lose 11-5

After defeating Tampa Bay in the 2010 ALDS, the Rangers and Rays meet for the first time this season.

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Wade Davis Struggles, Sean Rodriguez Makes Three Errors As Rays Lose 11-5

For all those wondering at the beginning of the year if Wade Davis could keep up his pace, it seems we have our answer: not so much. After starting the year with a shiny ERA down in the twos, after last night’s game, his ERA is sitting at a lofty 4.52, with a corresponding 5.38 FIP. Regression happens, and man, it stinks in this case.

To be fair, when Davis is on his game and is able to locate his pitches well, he’s been very good at inducing weak contact, getting the timely strikeout, and limiting damage. The only issue with this strategy is it gives him a very small margin of error; if his command is off at all, like it was last night, then things can get ugly real fast.

Davis’ final line from last night: 2.2 IP, 12 hits, 7 earned runs, 1 walk, 1 strikeout, 2 homeruns allowed. The Rangers were ripping balls off Davis all night, and it didn’t help that his defense let him down on a couple occasions. Sean Rodriguez made three errors on the night (although only one of them that affected Davis), and Longoria and Upton both botched plays they normally make. It was a pretty blah night for the Rays, one of those games you want to forget as soon it’s finished.

I blame those damn hats.

Game Notes:

- Zobrist and Ruggiano both hit homeruns later in the game, allowing the Rays to actually pull within four runs in the sixth inning. After Ruggs hit his blast, I thought the Rays might be making a comeback and make a game of it, but that was the last sign of offense we’d see from the Rays.

- Joyce went 2-4 on the night, which is awesome to see considering Derek Holland is a lefty. I’m glad to see he’s getting playing time against lefties, and even happier to see him succeeding. His second hit was a hard hit ball that

- Poor S-Rod. I felt bad for him after seeing him make his second throwing error, and then he bobbled another play at short not long after. By that third error, it just seemed like Rodriguez had gotten into his own head – so focused on the throw, he botched fielding the grounder cleanly. I still like him at shortstop, as his range has looked good and he has a strong arm, but we may have just seen part of the reason why Rodriguez was moved off short to begin with. I’m willing to deal with growing pains for now though; Rodriguez is so sure-handed at other positions, I find it hard to believe he’s an error machine at short.

- Juan Cruz just doesn’t look good out there. He had another performance last night where he walked two batters without getting any strikeouts, and he couldn’t get an out before allowing two runs and getting pulled. I was all for giving him a shot at the beginning of the year, hoping the Rays’ magic in relievers improving their walk rates would fix him too, but his shtick is starting to get old.

On the plus side, Adam Russell looked good out there again. He seems to be slowly getting things together.

- As we suspected, after the game Brandon Gomes was demoted and Alex Cobb promoted. I’m sorry to see Gomes go; he was effective out of the ‘pen, while now Sonny is back out there in his stead. Oh well…at least we’ll get to see Cobb pitch tonight.

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Tampa Bay Rays Host The Texas Rangers

After winning two of three against the major-league-best Cleveland, the Tampa Bay Rays continue their homestand with three games against the Texas Rangers. The Rays will see Derek Holland, who lasted a mere four innings against the Chicago White Sox in his last start, face off against Wade Davis - the only starter to get the win against Texas in last year's playoffs. 

Rays fans should remember a painfully unlucky series from the ALDS in 2010. This will be the teams' first meeting of since, without Cliff Lee this time. The Rays will still need to put up a fight, Texas is among the top ten teams in the majors for batting average, on base percentage, slugging percentage and runs scored. Luckily the Texas rotation is injured (Matt Harrison, Eric Hurley, Tommy Hunter and Scott Feldman are on the disabled list) and the bullpen has been all but sleeping on the mound. If the Rays continue to swing a hot bat it will be an even series. 

What To Watch For

  • Pitchers to struggle with command. Rays starter Wade Davis has sacrificed velocity for control in recent weeks and could try upping the speed as he's gotten more comfortable, but there's no guarantee the control will remain. Contrary, the former rookie-of-the-year closer Natalie Feliz has struggled, despite earning ten saves this season. Feliz has walked nine in 9.2 innings this month. 
  • Where Evan Longoria will bat. In two games at leadoff, Longo has hit 4-7 with 3 runs and 3 walks including one homerun. Longoria had five hits in ten games prior to the change. At lead off he will have more at bats but less opportunity to bring runners home. To stay would be very unconventional, but Maddon may keep him there until the magic wears off.
  • Casey Kotchman to sit. The veteran first baseman left yesterday's game with an ankle injury in the fourth on a slide into second. He is listed as day-to-day, but with a lefty on the mound he may be given the day off in favor of the switch hitting Felipe Lopez
  • Josh Hamilton to play the field. He returned to left on saturday after being sidelined with a broken arm. He would consider the DH position in the future, but with Michael Young and Adrian Beltre on the roster, the outfield remains the Rangers' best choice. 
  • The Rangers to be eager.  Texas will be on the road 17 of their next 20 games, starting tonight in the Trop, and will fight to start strong.
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