ANAHEIM, CA - AUGUST 16: Evan Longoria #3 and B.J. Upton #2 of the Tampa Bay Rays celebrate after the game against the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim at Angel Stadium of Anaheim on August 16, 2012 in Anaheim, California. The Rays won 7-0. (Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)
Felix Hernandez may have pitched a perfect game against the Rays, but getting back on track should not be too hard.
- Aug. 15, 2012 -- Felix Hernandez, Seattle, 1-0 (Perfect Game)
- June 26, 2010 -- Edwin Jackson, Arizona, 1-0
- May 9, 2010 -- Dallas Braden, A's, 4-0 (Perfect Game)
- July 23, 2009 -- Mark Buehrle, White Sox, 5-0 (Perfect Game)
- April 27, 2002 -- Derek Lowe, Boston, 10-0
So, even though the Rays franchise spent 10 seasons as the league whipping boy and had such disastrous lineups that included 35-year-old Al Martin at DH, those buckets-of-awful lineups never had a perfect game against them. And now that the Rays are on a streak of five-straight winning seasons, the opponents hurling a perfect game seems like an annual affair.
Of course, that is an oversimplification of, well, everything. The Rays' current successful has come on the merit of cheap offense (which oftentimes means low contact-rates, high walk-rates) and pitching and defense. So in some ways, getting no-hit is a natural by-product of their otherwise nontarnishable success. Also, league-wide offense has undergone a drastic shift in favor of low-scoring games, and thereby perfect and no-hit games.
Still, the no-hitters are a bummer. Especially in a playoff race.
One of the fears that linger following a perfect game or a no-hitter is that the team is just beginning a protracted slump. How can we not start to suspect something bigger is afoot after watching 27 straight outs? But the Rays quickly put that concern to bed on Thursday night when they hammered SP Dan Haren and the Los Angeles Angels for a 7-0 win.
The win actually put them at 3-2 for their anti-hangover games -- the games following their no-hit defeat. Let's take a look at those games.
On April 27, 2002, the Tampa Bay Devil Rays lost what might be the most terrible game in franchise history. Not only did SP Derek Lowe no-hit them, but they lost 10-0. The Devil Rays were down 7-0 but the end of the 3rd inning, and 29-year-old Lowe made the rest of the game zip by.
The following day, the Devil Rays -- who went on to lose 103 games that year -- lost again, this time 3-2 to the Minnesota Twins. It's hard to count this game against the Rays franchise. Heck, it's unfair to count anything pre-2005 against the well-oiled-death-machine that Stuart Sternberg and Andrew Freidman built, so let's not dwell on this one.
On July 23, 2009, SP Mark Buehrle twirled a 5-0 perfect game. OF Dewayne Wise, who entered as a defensive replacement, made the catch of the game, robbing RF Gabe Kapler of home run.
In the following game, SP Matt Garza pitched 9.0 impressive innings of 2-run baseball against the Toronto Blue Jays. But the game went into extra innings, tied 2-2. Fortunately, 3B Evan Longoria ended the suffering when he knocked a two-run double to left field and RP J.P. Howell pinned down his 11th save of the season and a 4-2 Rays win.
On May 9, 2010, not-terrible SP Dallas Braden threw a perfect game on 109 pitches. The Rays lost 4-0, and then in the next game, this time versus the Angels, the Rays lost 5-4. Longoria hit two doubles, but Garza allowed 4 ER to go with 2 HR, and the Rays could not overcome it.
On June 25, 2010 -- later that same season -- SP Edwin Jackson pitched perhaps the second-most frustrating game of Rays history. He no-hit Tampa Bay -- despite allowing an absurd 8 walks and a hit by pitch, with only 6 strikeouts. The Rays lost 1-0, even though they played better than the Arizona Diamondbacks on that day.
The next day, the Rays managed to collect 5 hits -- though only 1 extra base hit on a 1B Carlos Pena double -- and beat the Diamondbacks 5-3. SP David Price struck out 11 and went 8.0 innings, and RP Rafael Soriano collected save No. 18.
For those not keeping track, in games following no-hitters, the Rays are 3-2, and have outscored their opponents 23-13. Which is quite not bad.
So when the Rays players said before Thursday's game that they expected to put the perfecto behind them, I think it was fair of us to trust them.