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Saturday August 7, 2010 8:30 pm

The Tampa Bay Rays pitching is driving the ship




Posted by Adrien Griffin Categories: Athletes, MLB,

David PriceThe Tampa Bay Rays are picking a poor time to go through a team-wide slump. After a 17-11 thrashing from the Blue Jays on Saturday afternoon, the Rays have now lost four in a row; the longest losing skid of the season for the American Wild Card leaders. Despite the 17-run outburst, the Rays have some of the best pitching in baseball. The night before they lost 2-1, but both were unearned; just the second time in club history they have lost without giving up an earned run.

The Rays have only used six different starters all season. They have their core five of James Shields, Matt Garza, Jeff Niemann, David Price and Wade Davis. The only other start was a one-off appearance by Jeremy Hellickson, who made his major league debut on August 2 against the Twins when he went seven innings, giving up two runs on three hits, walking two and striking out six. Think about it, as good as the five starters are right now, the team has guys like Hellickson waiting in the wings.

The five regulars have a combined 54 wins. Throughout baseball, there are 11 other teams with fewer wins credited to either starters or relievers. They also shared a 3.82 ERA with 548 strikeouts before Saturday’s game against the Jays. Garza is also responsible for one of this season’s no-hitters; which is also the first in Tampa Bay history. At the bank end of the pitching staff, closer Rafael Soriano has been holding his own, converting 31 of 33 save opportunities.

The Rays will look to their starters to turn things around. While they hold a comfortable lead over the Red Sox for the AL Wild Card, it’s not a large margin and they would love to expand on it or possibly even overtake the Yankees for the divisional lead. They still have 29 games against opponents in their division so a lot can change between now and the end of the season. The last four games are no indication of what the Rays are capable of, and with a starting five like they have, they’ll be awfully tough to overcome.

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