The 2011 Grapefruit League season is shaping up to be a difficult one for Rays fans hoping to see W's in the win columns as the Tampa Bay Rays traveled Sunday to Clearwater to take on the Philadelphia Phillies and dropped another one late by the score of 5-4. For the Rays that had hoped to get off to a hot start like they did in 2008, and 2010, turning March success into April success, things have not yet gone as planned as they find themselves with only 1 win, 7 losses, and a tie.
Wade Davis started for the Rays and pitched two strong innings, the only blemish being a solo shot to Phillies slugger Ryan Howard in the second inning. Bullpen hopefuls Juan Cruz and Jake McGee both had strong one inning performances, Cruz collecting two strike outs.The Rays pitching surrendered three home runs on the day and Brian Baker was called upon in the 9th with the game tied and promptly walked the lead off man whom would eventually score after a bunt was misplayed and the next batter singled.
It didn't help that they Rays had to take on Cliff Lee, who last time they saw him was busy vanquishing them from the playoffs. Lee was strong as usual, allowing just 2 hits over 4 innings of work with 5 strikeouts and no walks. One of the hits was a single to leftie Matt Joyce who is hoping to show the team he can be an everyday player in the Majors by handling southpaws as well as righthanders. Kelly Shoppach must have nightmares of Lee and did nothing to help his case today going 0-2 against him and 0-3 overall.
Sean "Mr. March" Rodriguez continued to tear up the grapefruit league with an 2 RBI double in the 5th, in the midst of a rally started by a Casey Kotchman double of his own. Desmond Jennings went hitless but showed his speed, scoring from 1st on Rodriguez's double following a walk. Felipe Lopez finished 1-3 with an infield single and Robinson Chirinos went 0-3 from the DH spot.
Despite another loss for the Rays its important to look at the positives and try and look more closely at the individual performances than the final score. For the Rays there were things to be happy with on this trip to Clearwater and at the end of the day no one cares in July if you lost a game in March.