Having gotten in quite late on thursday night, I was able to take advantage of the first televised Rays game of the spring, against the Cleveland Indians.
Well, take advantage may in fact not be the correct word. For I watched the first 4 1/2 innings, over which time, the Rays had amassed 0 hits, 0 walks, and one solitary baserunner – Jonny Gomes who was hit by a pitch (and then very nicely stole 2nd – I always forget with Jonny’s power that he’s a pretty decent runner too). To be fair over that time Jae Seo had pitched 4 innings allowing only a single hit, which is a very encouraging performance.
Unfortunately, after I went to bed, Big Seth McClung gave 5 runs in one inning of work – all that the Indians needed for the win. The Rays finally managed to pick up a couple of hits (Elijah Dukes and Joel Guzman) but never really challenged. Our hitting is really worrying at the moment – I would really have expected to see more of an improvement from the expected starters by this stage of the spring, but its yet to materialise.
Still, last night the horrible losing streak was finally snapped, as the Pirates were downed 8-3, for just the 2nd Rays win of the spring – and the first was in a game shortened to 5 innings because of rain! The team did rap out 12 hits though, which is an improvement, and CC, Delmon Young and BJ Upton all stole a base – CC is 6-6 this spring on the basepaths, and if the Rays are to do well this year, speed will have to play a big part. Pitching wise, James Shields went 5 innings, giving up 8 hits, but only 2 runs – for which I beleive the technical term is ‘effectively wild’. He’s going to need to put in some good performances this year, but if he can keep improving on his 2006 showing, then I’ll be pretty confident giving him the ball every fifth day.
Anyway, I shall finish by wishing you all a good St Patricks Day – I’m watching the BoSox as I do every year on March 17 – those green shirts are great! Plus seeing Jonathan Papelbon pitch is always interesting. Added to that is Josh Hamilton in centrefield for the Reds – he’s still hitting over .500 for the spring, which is quite frankly astounding. Good luck to him.