Rays Vs. Athletics: David Price Pitches Poorly, Rays Lose 6-1

The Rays and Athletics face off in a four-game, West Coast series. Pitching failed the Rays in the first game of the series, as their bullpen gave up three runs in the seventh inning to lose the game.

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Rays Vs. Athletics: David Price Pitches Poorly, Rays Lose 6-1

There isn’t much to say about this game: the Rays simply stunk. David Price pitched one of his worst outings of the year, allowing 11 baserunners and four runs in only six innings, and the Rays’ offense never managed to put a rally together. It was a lackluster performance all around.

The Rays managed to scrape together nine baserunners last night (seven hits, two walks), but seven of those baserunners came from three players: Ben Zobrist, Matt Joyce, and Casey Kotchman. When two thirds of your offense isn’t contributing, it can be rather tough to hold and sustain a rally. Sadly, though, this has been the problem plaguing the Rays for the past month.

The Rays and Athletics face off again tonight at 10:10pm. The Rays have to win tonight and tomorrow to prevent them from losing their fifth series in a row.

Game Notes:

- Ben Zobrist had a good day, going 1-2 with a homerun and two walks. He’s quietly putting together a very solid season this year and ranks among the league leaders in WAR. It’s a shame the rest of the team around him isn’t playing as well as he is.

- Poor B.J. Upton. Trade talks and rumors keep swirling around his head, and it’s got to make it tough to concentrate on playing ball. He went 0-4 last night, and I can’t really blame him.

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Tampa Bay Rays To Set MLB Record Tuesday Night By Starting David Price

This news from Aaron Gleeman at HardBall Talk:

It’s no secret that Tampa Bay believes in young (and cheap) starting pitching, but Bill Chastain of MLB.com notes just how strong that belief is: Tonight the Rays will set an MLB record by starting a pitcher under 30 years old for the 704th consecutive game.

Honestly, I’d expect this streak to continue for a while longer. There’s no way the Rays start a player this season that is 30 years old or older — that is, unless they sign someone currently outside the organization to fill in randomly — so it comes down to if James Shields starts the season with the Rays next season. Shields will be turning 30 this December, so if he starts the season with the Rays, the streak will be over quickly. But if the Rays decide to trade him during the offseason (which is unlikely, but possible), who knows when the streak will end? It could be years.

But anyway, this is merely a fun fact that highlights how youth-focused the Rays are. They put an extreme premium on developing their own starting pitchers, to the point where it’s almost absurd how many solid young pitchers they have developed. I mean, really, this is ridiculous (per Bill Chastain):

In the 702 games since starting their streak, the Rays have used just 14 starters, which is the fewest in the Major Leagues. Each of the 14 was either drafted and developed by the Rays (eight) or acquired by trade (six).


Pitching Matchup: David Price vs. Brandon McCarthy
Game Time: 10:10pm
Lineup: From Marc Topkin, St. Pete Times

Jennings lf
Damon dh
Zobrist 2b
Longoria 3b
Kotchman 1b
Upton cf
Joyce rf
Chirinos c
Rodriguez ss

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Rays Vs. Athletics: Jeremy Hellickson, Bullpen Falter As Rays Lose 7-5

Talk about interminable. I thought that game would never end. Whenever you're in the 7th inning at the three hour mark -- and your team is in the process of blowing the lead -- it's not going to be a fun night.

The Rays have been a struggling team for the past few weeks, just sneaking out enough wins here and there to keep it from looking like they're in a huge slide. They had the excuse for a while that they were facing the Yankeesand Red Sox, but four games into their road trip, it's becoming pretty evident that their problems are deeper seated than that. The Rays are now 1-3 over their last four games, losing a series to the Royals and blowing the lead last night against the Athletics. What can go wrong has gone wrong -- they're just in one of those funks.

Jeremy Hellickson had one of his roughest starts of the season last night, struggling to last through five innings while allowing four hits, four walks, and three runs. Brooks Baseball isn't letting me access the game at the moment (so I don't have Pitch F/x data to share), but it's pretty obvious what his issue was last night: Helly simply didn't have his normal control. He was missing his spots, falling behind on hitters, and working deep into counts all night long; it was a very un-Helly like performance.

And yet, Hellickson battled and made it through five innings. He doesn't have a David Price fastball to lean on when his command fails him, so I'm always impressed with his tenacity when he doesn't have his best stuff. Even when his control is off, he doesn't seem willing to throw pitches down the heart of the plate in order to keep from falling behind on hitters; he may walk four batters, but he'll keep trying to hit the edges and his spots.

When Hellickson left, the Rays were leading the game 4-2 thanks to Ben ZobristDesmond Jennings, and a weird series of events in the top of the fifth inning (including a triple from B.J. Upton). But then the seventh inning happened.

The score was 5-3 going into the bottom of the seventh inning, as Kelly Shoppach hit a towering homerun in the sixth and the Athletics scored a run off Brandon GomesJ.P. Howell entered the game to get the final out in the sixth, and Maddon had him start off the seventh inning. Unfortunately, something still isn't right with Howell: he got one quick out before allowing a single, walk, and another single. One run scored, and then Joel Peralta came in and allowed those two inherited runners to score on a double by Conor Jackson. And just like that, the Athletics had the lead and ended up winning the game.

There's so much you can blame right now. The bullpen is starting to show cracks, regressing hard after posting an unsustainably low ERA in the beginning of year. And the offense continues to struggle, going 8-53 with runners in scoring position over this road trip (h/t Transplanted). Take your pick really -- it's been a rough couple of days.

The one person I wouldn't blame: Desmond Jennings. He continues to be nothing short of phenomenal, going 2-5 last night with a double and stolen base. That's three doubles for him already, tying Reid Brignac's total number of extra base hits this season.

Oh, and that Ben Zobrist guy is pretty nifty. He went 3-4 with a walk and homerun -- not a bad day from Zorilla.

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