The Tampa Bay Rays (11-13) are playing just below .500 baseball, but the bats are beginning to turn around. The Rays took two out of three against the Baltimore Orioles this week, but dropped the series against the Toronto Blue Jays (12-14) this weekend. Curt Casali supplied the first walk-off victory of the season on Saturday night at Tropicana Field with a base hit scoring Brad Miller. The Rays and were unable to get back to .500 on Sunday as Jake Odorizzi is still looking for his first victory. The Rays lineup didn’t help much though as they only came through with four hits. However, things are warming up as Longoria hit his fifth home run of the season on Sunday before Alex Colome blew the game in the ninth inning allowing a three run shot. The Rays finished under .500 in spring training and this average play has carried over into the regular season. The important part of spring training was that there was only one substantial injury with Brad Boxberger who should return in a few weeks.
The departure of James Loney was big news a few days before Opening Day. This really shows faith in what the Rays did this offseason with bringing in Steve Pearce and Logan Morrison, who have not looked good at the plate to start the first month of the season. Jake Odorizzi and the rest of the pitching staff look solid as Chris Archer only has one win this season, and fans know he can only improve. The offense needs to show improvement as they are still last in runs scored and are 4 for 39 with runners in scoring position this homestand. It has seemed to be the same old story for the Rays in the first month of baseball.
Morrison is off to a real slow start but Corey Dickerson has turned on a handful of fastballs and hit them out as he hit his fifth home run for the Rays last week. The Rays brought extra relievers to opening day roster with the departure of Jake McGee and the injury to Brad Boxberger. The Rays are all in for this new look offense and it needs to step up. Desmond Jennings started out hot but is now slumping big time. Brad Miller hasn’t done much at the plate either. Logan Forsythe has slipped right into the leadoff spot and is proving he is capable to be a leadoff batter as he is spreading the ball all over the field. The Rays have two games left of the eight game homestand at Tropicana Field as they welcome in the Los Angeles Dodgers (13-13) on Tuesday and Wednesday.
Steven Souza. Jr. is tied with Dickerson and Longoria for the most home runs on the team with five. Souza has shown great energy in the outfield as he seems to be making fantastic plays with Kiermaier out there. If Souza can keep this energy up all season it will be a great help to the Rays lineup. Morrison will need to be lifted from the number two hitter in the lineup as he simply just isn’t hitting the baseball. Kevin Cash made this switch a couple of times last week and it worked out well. Cash will have his work cut out for him this season making minor adjustments like this to the lineup when someone is slumping. But a month in and we have seen a little bit of everything. We saw the dramatics and great plays to end games. But fans also saw the horrible plays and bad offense go through some tough stretches.
Erasmo Ramirez has been terrific out of the bullpen. He has taken on his new role with great confidence and is really showing it on the mound. Alex Colome has been adjusting to the closer role just fine. Boxberger will return in a few weeks and it seems Ramirez will get back in the starting rotation. Alex Cobb will return in July from his Tommy John surgery which will be a boost to the starting rotation. Tampa Bay always seems to have a surplus of quality starters. If the bullpen can hold up and the offense stays hungry this team will certainly compete for the division, as the Baltimore Orioles (14-10) are leading the division but only a few games ahead of the Rays.