Less than ten days ago, the Tampa Bay Rays were sitting in first place in the American League East. The Rays, without a doubt, owned the best record in the American League.
The Rays had a game and a half lead on the Boston Red Sox in the AL East. Life was good. The Rays were winning game after game.
How things have changed. As we enter the July 4th weekend, the Rays find themselves four and a half games behind Boston in the AL East. The team is on a downward spiral that shows no signs of ending.
The Rays have lost four in a row and are in the middle of a nine-game road losing streak.
The Rays have been outscored 26-7 in their last two games.
Friday night, it was the Toronto Blue Jays turn to tee off on the Rays pitching. The Jays pounded out an 11-1 win over the Rays.
things got so bad that outfielder Brett Phillips came in to pitch in the ninth inning. This was without a doubt the most fun part of this game, as Phillips’s first pitch was a 94 MPH fastball. He ended the inning with a pitch of 48 MPH.
Check out this clip of Phillips pitching mechanics.
So what is wrong with the Rays? It’s a combination of things. When you have a lineup that can’t hit consistently and a bullpen that has taken a beating during June, that is a recipe for disaster and they are the main problems on this Tampa team.
Losing their best starting pitcher Tyler Glasnow didn’t help either.
Relief pitcher Pete Fairbanks began the month of June with a 1.04 ERA. But after four poor outings, Fairbanks ERA stands at 4.96 after getting shelled in his last outing at Washington on Wednesday afternoon.
Michael Wacha has been a disappointment going 1-2 with a 5.26 ERA.
Josh Fleming has not pitched like the Josh Fleming of 2020, going 6-4 with a 4.48 ERA.
Since the Rays lost Tyler Glasnow to a partially torn UCL, the Rays starters have a 2-4 record with a 5.25 ERA in 15 games.
Nothing seems to be working for the Rays right now as they try to fix the rotation. Luis Patino was called up from Durham to face Toronto on Friday night. However, he was rocked early on before retiring the final ten batters he faced. Patino gave up seven runs in a little over five innings of work.
However, Manager Kevin Cash thinks the Rays are a good team that is just not playing well right now. “We’re a good team that’s not playing very well right now. I think that’s fair to say. I know we had a little bit better homestand where we won a series. These last two games, I don’t think, are an indication of who we are, but it’s ultimately up to us to try to turn things around. We need to do that.”
There is some help on the way. Manager Kevin Cash said pitchers Chris Archer and Oliver Drake threw live batting practice in Port Charlotte on Friday and will do the same next Tuesday. We could see them in Tampa after the All-Star break.
Surprisingly, the Rays are still holding on to one of the two wildcard spots after this poor stretch of games. The Rays are 47-35 and still holding down second place in the AL East. Tampa will look to snap that nine-game road losing streak in Buffalo today with Shane McClanahan starting for the Rays.