The Tampa Bay Rays opened the first of a 3 game set with the Minnesota Twins with a 7-1 victory. SP Jeff Niemann went 5.2 innings scattering 3 hits, 1 ER, 4 BB and 4 K’s. Jeff looked good at times and struggled at times (hence the 4 free passes). He worked himself into a few dangerous situations but he maintained his composure and made the pitches when he needed them. Another solid performance from a cast of many in the BP for 3.1 innings gives hope that maybe they’ve worked out some of their early season issues. Joe Nelson has been a workhorse out of the pen putting up solid numbers (current ERA 3.00) and looking better each performance.
The offense had a few stars that carried this team on its’ shoulders. Carlos Pena belted his 8th HR while Jason Bartlett tripled his HR production of a year ago by knocking out HR #3. Pena was the offensive star collecting 3 RBI’s, scoring twice and lofting a 3B to add to his HR.
As I said the offense had a few stars but there are also a few that are still a concern. Pat Burrell, BJ Upton, and Dioner Navarro have not played even close to expectations. Yes, I know it’s early yet but with each unproductive out passes a missed opportunity we cannot get back. BJ was moved to #1 because he gets on base a lot – his current OBP is only .288. Pat was brought on board to knock some guys in – he currently has only 8 RBIs. Navi – well, Navi looks like the Navi of 2007 not 2008. His catching has been suspect – a lot of PB and he’s looking lazy behind the plate.
I hope as much as the next Ray fan that this victory is the one that starts the proverbial turn around. Being that we are exactly where we were at the same point last year that is a strong possibility. But as a realist I know that we cannot rely on 1 or 2 guys to carry this team into the post season. The rest of these guys need to get it together and start contributing.
Here’s to a winning streak of our own – Go Rays!