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First Week of the Season Has Been a Mixed Bag for Tampa Bay Rays

ST. PETERSBURG - APRIL 11:  Outfielder Carl Crawford #13 of the Tampa Bay Rays steals second base as shortstop Derek Jeter #2 of the New York Yankees is late with the tag during the game at Tropicana Field on April 11, 2010 in St. Petersburg, Florida.  (Photo by J. Meric/Getty Images)
J. Meric/Getty Images
JC De La TorreAnalyst IIIApril 11, 2010

Week one of the 2010 baseball season was a bit of everything for the Tampa Bay Rays. Dramatic come-from-behind wins over the Orioles, a blow out of the Yankees in game one, then finishing the home stand with two ugly defeats at the hands of the Evil Empire definitely leaves a foul taste in the Rays' mouths as they head out for a 10 game road trip.

Starting the season 3-3 at home, while playing four of the six games in front of crowds of nearly 30,000, is not what the Rays were expecting. Tampa Bay usually excels when the Trop is filled.

Not this time, though, as Tampa Bay played .500 baseball in the big crowd games.

This just in folks: the Yankees are quite good. The Orioles aren't half bad either, and that's where Tampa Bay will begin one of the longest road trips of the season.

The 10 game trip will take Tampa Bay to Baltimore, Boston, and Chicago before coming home to face the AL East leading Toronto Blue Jays (we'll see how long that lasts).

If there's anything the Rays cannot afford in 2010, it's a slow start.

Tampa Bay was 17 games under .500 on the road last season. They need to be a lot better this year if they hope to keep up with the Yankees and Red Sox.

The big bugaboo for the Rays thus far has been the bullpen, which has sorely missed setup man J.P. Howell (shoulder). Tampa Bay's relievers have managed an awful 7.78 ERA thus far, and blew a lead in Sunday's 7-3 defeat to the Bronx Bombers.

Randy Choate, forced into the setup role with Howell's absence, has given up six earned runs in the past two games.

"I really can't explain the last two days," Choate told the Associated Press . "Physically, I'm fine. But I'm a sinker ball pitcher, and the ball wasn't sinking."

It wasn't staying in the ballpark, either.

The good news for the Rays is that this was just one series in many and there's still 156 games on the schedule to get the ship righted.

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