Tampa Bay Rays: The First Week Of May

BALTIMORE, MD - MAY 06: Johnny Damon #22 of the Tampa Bay Rays celebrates with Ben Zobrist #18 and B.J. Upton #2 after hitting a home run in the ninth inning against the Baltimore Orioles at Oriole Park at Camden Yards on May 6, 2011 in Baltimore, Maryland. (Photo by Greg Fiume/Getty Images)

The Rays began April with an 0-6 record. This is hard to swallow for Rays fans, so you might have lost touch... Well, while you were out, here's a round up of the first week of May for the Tampa Bay Rays. (Does first place sound alright!?)

Yes, April started horridly for the Tampa Bay Rays but it ended with the Rays in second for the AL East, a 15-12 record and averaging about five runs per game. How did the Rays fare in the first week of their second month?

Game Recaps

May 1: Rays Lose 6-5 on the night Osama Bin Laden was announced to have been killed. 

May 2: B.J. Upton hit a walk-off homerun and Evan Longoria returned from a month on the DL as the Rays Win 4-3.

May 4: Jeff Niemann injured his back after four innings, letting the Rays Lose 3-2. Skipper Joe Maddon and outfielder B.J. Upton were both ejected in this game. (details here).

May 5: David Price dominated the Blue Jays in a 3-1 Rays Win with a near complete game. 

May 6: The Rays Win 6-2 as workhorse James Shields pitched into the seventh inning for his fifth straight appearance. 

May 7: The Sunshine spanked Baltimore with an 8-2 Rays Win. With this victory the Rays tied for first place in the AL East. The following night they would take sole possession!

The Rays were 4-2 in the first week of May, and have a record of 19-14. That's right - after starting the season 1-8, the Rays have gone 18-6. Tampa now has a mere 14 losses in 33 games played. 

Only five teams in major league baseball have fewer losses than the Rays: The Yankees (13 in 31 games), Cleveland (10 in 32 games), Philadelphia (10 in 32 games), Florida (13 in 32 games), and Colorado (13 in 31 games). 

The Rise of Minor Leaguers

May 1: Starting pitcher Alex Cobb was promoted from AAA Durham to keep the starting rotation on schedule. He held the Blue Jays scoreless for four innings but broke down in the fifth. He did not receive the Loss, but was primarily responsible. 

May 2: Reliever Brandon Gomes (who had struck out 22 men in 13.1 innings at AAA) was promoted when Alex Cobb was sent back to Durham. As of May 7th, Gomes has allowed one walk and no hits for seven batters faced. 

May 3: Third baseman Felipe Lopez was demoted to make room for Evan Longoria. He cleared waivers and accepted his assignment to AAA.

May 5: Former closer J.P. Howell has his first or five AAA appearances as he rehabs from shoulder surgery in 2010. He could be major league ready in the near future. 

May 6: Outfielder Brandon Guyer was promoted after Jeff Niemann went to the DL and proceeded to hit a homerun in his first at bat. Long Reliever Andy Sonnanstine will take Niemann's place as needed until his return. 

May 7: Reliever Rob Delaney was called up and pitched a scoreless inning in his first game. Brandon Guyer was sent back to AAA as the carousel continues. 

To read about other minor leaguers tearing it up, check out DRaysBay 's recent recap

The Bullpen

Most commentators were quick to call the bullpen Tampa's weakest link before the season started. The Rays had lost six of seven men to the offseason, and most scoffed at the front office's acquisitions of low cost, formerly injured players and low level trades. 

... So how well did the front office do? 

Bullpen_medium

(in other news, don't forget the Lightning SWEPT the Capitals! The Stanley Cup Eastern Finals begin next week.)

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