Desperate measures call for desperate remedies , in desperate times
In what, once looked like a an all-out single-handed race with a hare taking the lead in the race for one of the two AL wildcard berths for the postseason . It now looks as if the Tampa Bay Rays are looking to play themselves out of contention in the aforementioned two-horse race. For Joe Maddon and coaching staff , this now comes about getting this team to recommit themselves to the task at hand. .
Slide show, for your perusal.
Granted, the Rays were not major players in the trade deadline in making any major deals as they stood pat at the insistence of GM Andrew Friedman . With limited financial resources , there is no denying that Friedman has been able to work miracles over the past few years . So much so , that he has to be considered one of the better young front office executives in all of baseball. One of the really telling issues for the Tampa Bay Rays for this season has been the very fact that the pitchers are getting very little run support from the offense . And if that cannot be dealt with in a timely fashion , with a little more than thirty games left on the MLB schedule . It has to be said that desperation will set in not only amongst the Rays but also with a number of teams on the cusp of garnering a playoff berth and with those other franchises in locked into a tight divisional race .
The return of Evan Longoria from the DL , was seen as an added bonus for a team that was said to be desperate for run production. So erratic have been the Rays’ performances as they sought to narrow the gap between themselves and the New York Yankees (75-55) within the AL East. Now the Rays find themselves four games out of first place within the division and 1 ½ games out of the wildcard race . Coming off a heartbreaking 2-0 loss at the Rogers Center in Toronto , to the Toronto Blue Jays . The Rays will face the Blue Jays once again on Friday , with Jeremy Hellickson (8-9,3.42 ERA) on the mound facing his Jays’ counterpart Brandon Morrow ( 7-5, 3.06 ERA ) . A win , is a must for the Tampa Bay Rays , they embark on the final month of their schedule . Sunday , pits the Rays in the final game of their three game series against the Toronto Blue Jays. However, it will the highly anticipated upcoming home series against their divisional rivals the New York Yankees that may well determine how resolute the Rays are , as they seek to keep themselves apace of the other wildcard berth contenders , as well as within striking distance of the Yankees within the division. That series begins on the 3rd September ,with the first of three games of what should turn out to be a highly competitive series , which the Rays currently lead 7-5, in what is a year-long schedule of eighteen games that are normally played between the two teams.
On the mound for the Rays in the three set series against the New York Yankees will be James Shields (12-8,3.91 ERA) on 3rd September , Alex Cobb (8-8,4.39ERA) on the 4th September and in the final game of the series will be Matt Moore (10-8, 3.58 ERA) . Yankees’ manager Joe Girardi has yet to affix his starting lineup of pitchers for the series . The New York Yankees’ pitching lineup has seen a number of injuries sideline several of their starting pitchers , and it has left to Girardi and coaching staff to designate a starter for several of the team’s games according to readiness and availability at the time. Throughout much of the season , it has been the Yankees’ pitching that is and will remain their Achilles’ Heel . It is something that has not been lost on the Yankees’ opponents over the course of this season . However, with Girardi’s over-reliance on the team’s offense and the mere fact that their propensity for the “ long-ball “ (home runs) seems to be one of the team’s most effective weapons in their arsenal , and it has made it far easier for the New York Yankees to eke out their wins over the course of their 2012 schedule . Now whether or not this team can maintain its lead over the rest of their divisional rivals over the remainder of the season remains to be seen.
If there is one AL team that I would certainly like to see appear in this postseason , then it would definitely have to be the Oakland A’s ! This long-suffering franchise , often the butt of so many jokes , finally seems to living up to the potential that their fans believed that they had within them. What was once considered a two-horse race within the AL West between the Los Angeles Angels and Texas Rangers for the divisional supremacy , has now been gate crashed by the upstart A’s . So much so , that should there be the slightest complacency amongst the Rangers, then quite possibly the A’s could walk away with their first divisional title since 2006 and first playoff appearance since that year , when they made the ALCS , only to be swept by the Detroit Tigers (4-0) in four games .
This season through sheer hard work, grit and determination the Oakland A’s are proving that this young team , that they have what it takes to challenge the might of the , Angels , Yankees , Tigers , White Sox and the Orioles . Bob Melvin and his coaching staff are proving that nurturing of the young talent and getting these players to apply themselves to the task at hand , is far more beneficial than spending countless millions on over-priced talent . At 72-57 , good enough for second place within the AL West, it has to be noted that the A’s would not have found themselves in such a position , were it not for the contributions of Brandon Inge , Coco Crisp, Josh Reddick , Jonny Gomes , Yoenis Cespedes and Brandon Moss . From a pitching standpoint , it has been left to the likes of Tommy Milone , Jarrod Parker , Ryan Cook and Brandon McCarthy to lead the way. Granted , with the 50 game mandatory suspension of Bartolo Colon for violating baseball’s drug policy , it does leave the A’s in something of a bind. However, with what appears to be the growing confidence of the team and the ingenuity being shown by Bob Melvin , there is no reason to believe why the Oakland A’s cannot overcome such a major adversity. Even without Colon , the team is proving that they are resilient enough to plow on through without their most experienced pitcher .
With a mere thirty-three games left in their schedule, and coming off a victorious 12-7 defeat of the beleaguered Cleveland Indians . Next up for the A’s , is a three game series at the O Coliseum , in Oakland , California, against the Boston Red Sox . If Bob Melvin’s players can at least come away with either a series’ sweep or a 2-1 series’ win . then it would bode well for the team , when they are due to meet the Los Angles Angels in what might is sure to be a highly anticipated and competitive series . To date the A’s are 7-5 in their head to head meetings with Mike Scocsia’s —– Angels this season . With their resiliency , this series with the Angels , which begins on Monday 3rd September with game one of the three-game match-up should prove to be eventful . And whoever, holds sway at the culmination of this three-game set could as such be viewed as one of the team’s said to be “in the driver’s seat” with regard to assuring their own fate. So tight is the bottle-neck atop of the AL wildcard standings , that one of the teams in question can now afford to have any major slip-ups between now and the end of the season , which culminates on the 3rd October , 2012. The A’s fate, now lies in their own hands , and it will be interesting to see how this ball-club deals with the obstacles placed in their way .
The Detroit Tigers’ owner Michael Ilitch is not an individual who is averse to spending money and in conjunction with team GM Dave Dombrowski , and in recent years the ball-club have spent a great deal of the owner’s money in assembling a competitive team . The biggest splash made in the off-season , came by way of the Tigers acquiring Prince Fielder as a free agent and then signing the first baseman to a lucrative nine-year $214 million contract that makes the first baseman one of the highest paid players in the game . That asides, the Tigers have simply struggled to be in recent years to make themselves part of baseball’s postseason fare. In 2011 , the team was brushed aside by the Texas Rangers in the ALCS 4-2 , and it left something of an embarrassing and unsavory taste in the mouths of the Tigers’ players.
Tigers’ manager Jim Leyland , the venerable sage of the game , along with his assistants have assembled a roster in 2012 , through free agency via their farm system . The challenge however , for 2012 , has been to main a consistency to their season , while challenging for divisional supremacy within the AL Central . That task is being made extremely difficult with the very fact that the Chicago White Sox (72-58) have been playing at a high-caliber , while not seeking to let the Tigers try to eradicate their three-game lead within the division . In their most recent game against the Kansas City Royals , Detroit did themselves no favors by simply letting that game slip from within their grasp on their way to a self-deprecating 2-1 loss to the Royals. . Clearly, it is games such as this, that the Tigers can ill-afford to lose if they are to have any chance of erasing the White Sox’s lead within the division.
The Detroit Tigers will play hosts to the Chicago White Sox at Comerica Park in Detroit, Michigan , for three games for what is sure to be three exciting match-ups in front of a sold-out crowd of rabid and vociferous Tigers’ fans. The first of those three games takes place today with Doug Fister (7-8, 3.67 ERA) taking mound for the home team against Jake Peavy(9-9, 3.09 ERA) . This series is likely to be one of pitching match-ups , than that of it being an onslaught of offensive power being on display. The pitching staffs in question are pretty evenly matched and their respective team ERA’s are only a few percentage points (0.62) apart . Whomever, holds sway at the culmination of the series should feel content with their situation , as the season slowly meanders to a close .
Picture gallery .
With the regular season of baseball now in its final quarter stretch run , what if anything has been the biggest surprise to you , during this season ? And which teams do you see or feel will be viable contenders for the AL and NL pennants ? To your mind which ball-club has been the biggest disappointment over the course of this year ? Simply leave a comment as you see fit on this, and anything else you believe to be pertinent to the subject matter .
Picture and slide show details .
Tampa Bay Rays pitcher Matt Moore walks off the field after giving up two runs against the Toronto Blue Jays during the first inning of a baseball game, Thursday, Aug. 30, 2012, in Toronto. The Rays would go on to lose the game 2-0 to the Blue Jays . AP Photo/The Canadian Press, Aaron Vincent Elkaim ….
(2) Tampa Bay Rays designated hitter Evan Longoria watches the ball sail toward the fence after hitting a two-run home run against Texas Rangers pitcher Matt Harrison in the first inning of a baseball game , Wednesday, Aug. 29, 2012, in Arlington, Texas. The hit also scored Ben Zorbist. AP Photo/Tim Sharp ….
(3) New York Yankees pitcher CC Sabathia (52) looks down as Toronto Blue Jays’ Adam Lind rounds third base on a two run-home run hit by teammate Yunel Escobar in the sixth inning of a baseball game , Wednesday, Aug. 29, 2012 at Yankee Stadium in New York. AP Photo/Rich Schultz …
(4) Yunel Escobar(5) of the Toronto Blue Jays hits a two run double against the New York Yankees during their game at Yankee Stadium on August 29, 2012 in the Bronx Borough of New York City. Photo by Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images …
(5) Oakland Athletics Josh Reddick , right, is greeted by Yoenis Cespedes after hitting a two-run home run off Cleveland Indians’ Justin Masterson during the fifth inning of a baseball game , Thursday, Aug. 30, 2012, in Cleveland. AP Photo/Ron Schwane ….
(6) Manager Bob Melvin(6) and < Seth Smith (15) of the Oakland Athletics argue strike three with home plate umpire Paul Emmel (50) during the fifth inning against the Cleveland Indians at Progressive Field on August 30, 2012 in Cleveland, Ohio. Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images ….
(7) Kansas City Royals’ Alex Gordon , right, runs past Detroit Tigers catcher Gerald Laird after scoring a solo home run during the sixth inning of a baseball game on Thursday, Aug. 30, 2012, in Kansas City, Mo. AP Photo/Charlie Riedel …..
(8) Home plate umpire Manny Gonzalez (79) , center, calls Kansas City Royals’ Billy Butler , left, out after Butler tried to steal home on a wild pitch during the sixth inning of a baseball game against the Detroit Tigers, Thursday, Aug. 30, 2012, in Kansas City, Mo. AP Photo/Charlie Riedel ….
(9) KANSAS CITY, MO – AUGUST 29 : Prince Fielder (28) of the Detroit Tigers and Mike Moustakas (8) of the Kansas City Royals laugh after colliding on a play at first base during the 6th inning of the game at Kauffman Stadium on August 29, 2012 in Kansas City, Missouri. Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images …
(10) Starting pitcher Justin Verlander (35) of the Detroit Tigers pitches during the 1st inning of the game against the Kansas City Royals at Kauffman Stadium on August 28, 2012 in Kansas City, Missouri. Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images …….
NB: To read more MLB pieces within this site just click on link provided , Tophatal’s blog MLB (Baseball)
Head to head series between the New York Yankees and Tampa Bay Rays in 2012