The Tampa Bay Rays: Is Their Luck Beginning To Run Out In The AL East?

The Batters EyeContributor IMay 26, 2009

ST. PETERSBURG, FL - APRIL 13: Infielder Evan Longoria #3 of the Tampa Bay Rays bats against the New York Yankees on April 13, 2009 at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Florida.  (Photo by Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images)

With two months of the 2009 MLB Season into the record books, we are coming back to reality as we expected it to be this season.

The great starts of the Florida Marlins and the Toronto Blue Jays caught the eye of the public earlier in the year, questioning if they can stay on top of their respective divisions.

The Marlins went cold for weeks after their hot start, while the Blue Jays suffered a losing streak that has brought them into third place in the AL East.

Speaking of the great East, how about them Rays?

The Tampa Bay Rays, the current American League Champions, have been one of the bigger disappointments in the league this season.

Sitting under .500 with a record of 23-24, the Rays sit five games back of the first-place Red Sox.

A letdown thus far by the Rays is worth looking into, and from here the road does not get better.

In the past week, the team caught the injury bug, which severely hurts their chances for the postseason this year.

Their ace, Scott Kazmir, heads to the DL for a few weeks, while Troy Percival may be calling it quits after another setback this late into his career.

This past Sunday, another starter went down. Akinori Iwamura tore ligaments in his knee, which resulted in a season-ending surgery.

The staff is looking at which way to go, whether to start Willy Aybar, Ben Zobrist, or give talented youngster Reid Brignac a shot.

Either way, it is going to be tough to lose a gold-glove-type winner, and one who can also hit for average.

The Rays last week decided to call up David Price, a long but expected return to the majors to replace Kazmir.

In three innings, Price gave up two runs on four hits, walked five and struck out six.

Not a bad start for Price, however, he had a bit of trouble with command on some of his pitches. That allowed the Indians to get some damage done off him, before coming back from ten runs down to win 11-10!

Carlos Pena has begun to struggle after his early season success, hitting for just a .244 avg, while still having 15 home runs?

The catalyst for the Rays? Evan Longoria.

In his second year in the big leagues, Longoria is hitting .330, with 11 HR's and 49 RBI.

Talk about one man that is still producing, Longoria's season still gives the Rays a chance of bouncing back.

In the offseason, his work of trying to improve on less strikeouts and having a bigger swing has led to great production in April and May.

Unfortunately, he can't do it alone.

The rotation is a question mark right now, with the bottom struggling.

Kazmir needs to come back strong, and pitch like an ace, if the Rays want to still be in the race.

The Rays may have to go out on the trade market in getting another bat and a starting pitcher.

Is it to early to panic? Normally, you would say yes.

But when your in a division with the Red Sox and the Yankees, it's a whole different ball game.


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