One game into the season, will you go back?

by Gary Shelton on April 4, 2016 · 1 comment

in general, Tampa Bay Rays

Chris Archer started slowly, but he had 12 strikeouts.

Chris Archer started slowly, but he had 12 strikeouts.

Monday, 6 a.m.

Of all of the questions that remain after the opening disappointment by the Tampa Bays, this one is at the head of the list.

Will you come back?

They were good in spots, and they were bad in others. They finished second in a two-team competition. On the other hand, it was the first step of the long journey that is a baseball team's.

So how about it? Were they good enough to leave you wanting more? Were they worth an encore? A sequel?

That's the thing about the Rays. They usually sell out Opening Day. They never sell out Day Two. They've sold out 11 straight Openers. They've had empty seats at every Second Night. Same weather. Same opponent.

So it begs asking again: Of the 31,042 fans interested enough to buy a ticket for Sunday, how many will buy another one for tonight? And Tuesday night? What? Eighteen thousand? Fifteen thousand?

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Oh, the Rays lost Sunday, 5-3, and yes, there was some disappointment to that. Still, there were moments.

Romero had no problems i throwing a perfect sixth.

Romero had no problems i throwing a perfect sixth.

Take Chris Archer. He started out shakey, giving up two runs, two hits, two walks and a wild pitch in the first inning. He threw 34 pitches to get out of the inning.

But Archer's stuff was pretty darned good. He struck out two to close out that first inning, then one in the second. Then he struck out the side in the third...and the fourth...and the fifth. Of the 15 outs he recorded, 12 were by strikeouts.

I think it’s pretty obvious that the first inning, I was a little off,” Archer said. “I always want to go more than five innings, but I understand you can’t be perfect every inning, every game.”

Take the hitters. The new, supposedly more potent Rays order had only four hits for the first eight innings. But it finished with three hits in the ninth, including a 387-foot home run by Corey Dickerson that said “hello” fairly convincingly. Evan Longoria had two hits, which shows he might be better.

If you consider that Toronto's Marcus Stroman was pretty darned good himself – he threw 27 first-pitch strikes to 32 batters, which is a heck of a way to start a batter off – then the Rays were scrambling for balance all afternoon.

“I like the way we stayed with an aggressive approach,” manager Kevin Cash said. “You're going to run into that sometimes. We don't care about the pitch count. Its more or less, if you think you can handle it, swing at it. So they maintained it and it's good to see.”

Ah, but there was a baserunning gaffe when Kevin Kiermaier was thrown out trying to steal third in the fourth inning. “A terrible baseball play,” he said. First baseman Logan Morrison certainly made you miss the recently released James Loney. The bullpen was pretty good in its four innings except for one pitch by Ryan Webb that was taken deep by Troy Tulowitzki.

So did the good outweigh the bad?

Before the game, Longoria was talking about how much he liked this team. He thinks its better than any playoff team he's played on. That remains to be seen, of course. The basic truth is that this is a flawed team, but all of them are.

You know what happened Sunday? The Rays made sure that they won't go 162-0. Not many of us thought they would. Baseball is an endurance game where you try to win more than you lose. It will be weeks, maybe months, before we know if this team is special.

Except for that, there was some good. There was some bad. There was some reason for hope. There was some reason to call for help.

Is there a reason to buy a ticket again?

Your call.

Longoria had two hits to lead the Rays' offense.

Longoria had two hits to lead the Rays' offense.

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{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Howard Powders April 4, 2016 at 3:45 pm

Longoria said the same thing last season.

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