Shaky starting pitching, lack of hitting and getting on-base, questionable calls by the umpires, lather...rinse...repeat. That's basically what has happened in the first two nights of the Rays homestand. Andy Sonnanstine wasn't awful, but he wasn't particularly effective either. The Rays did have eight hits, but no big hits with runners on. Brian Knight was last night's Hunter Wendelstedt, making more than one questionable call at first base.
On the Mound:
Sonnanstine went six innings giving up four runs on seven hits and two walks. He did strike out three. The start was similar to the one he had last Friday in New York when he also went six giving up four runs. The biggest difference on this night was the offense scored one run, not the 13 they put up on Friday. Sonnanstine threw 22 pitches through the first two innings, but threw 71 over his final four frames. The problem isn't control with Sonnanstine, it's hard hits. The Mariners, like the Yankees, were spraying hits into gaps and the wheels fell off from there. J.P. Howell pitched 1.2 innings and was touched for three runs, two earned, on a home run by Jamie Burke. JK Ryu made his 2008 debut throwing a scoreless, but mostly unimpressive 1.1 innings. Ryu threw 26 pitches half of those were out of the strike zone.
At the Plate:
This pretty much sums it up...The Mariners had one more hit than the Rays, but scored six more runs. Willy Aybar was the star at the plate and in the field. Aybar went 3-4 with two doubles and made numerous web gem type plays in the field. All three Aybar hits came as a right-handed batter. Justin Ruggiano make a splash in his first AB, lacing a double and earning free checkers for section 115 WOO! He misplayed a ball in RF, but after watching Eric Hinske and Jonny Gomes in RF nobody seemed to notice. Jason Bartlett is the only other Ray to register a multi-hit game going 2-2 with a sac bunt. Aki Iwamura had the lone RBI on a Sac Fly. The Rays had 11 LOB as a team.
Tommy's Take: The offense the past four games(all losses) has been awful. The Rays have scored seven runs during the losing streak and can't seem to get anything going. On the season The Rays are last in the American league in hitting with a .229AVG and tied for last in OBP at .301. They are 10th in team BA/RISP with .246. The top of the order is especially struggling. Aki Iwamura is has an OBP of under .250 and Carl Crawford's is even worse at .189. The cleanup hitters can't clean up if there is nothing on the table. I know Maddon likes to have Aki,CC,Pena at the top, but maybe a little shakeup for a game or two might breathe some life into the order. Maybe have Bartlett bat 2nd and move CC down a little in the order.
Erik's Take: It was a frustrating game all around. The only bright spot was Aybar, who seemed to respond well to the "We Want Evan" chant. He was a vacuum at the hot corner and looked great at the plate. Justin Ruggiano looked great as well in his first action of the season. He had a double and would have had a single if Willy Aybar didn't get called out at home on a close play in the 7th. Can someone explain to me why Maddon feels the need to play the lefty/righty matchup at EVERY opportunity? In the 9th inning the Mariner's brought in a left handed pitcher and Maddon pinch hits Eric Hinske for Shawn Riggans, and I'm ok with that. But after Hinske walked Maddon pinch hit Nathan Haynes for Ruggiano, the only Ray besides Aybar who had shown anything at the plate all game. Ruggiano has some power, Haynes has none. I know Ruggiano doesn't hit lefties well, but Haynes doesn't hit well in general. Why not let Ruggiano hit and put Haynes in to pinch run for Hinske? I might be wrong, but I see that as the better move.
Some News and Notes: We've heard Garza's time table is anywhere from 2-6 weeks, and Floyd's injury is now 4-6 weeks instead of the 6-8 weeks that was reported yesterday.