Monday, 19 May 2008

Our own worst enemies

Just a quick note today on our two games with the Cards over the weekend, both of which I half-watched while doing other things.

Tampa Bay Rays 8 - St Louis Cardinals 9 (10 innings)
Tampa Bay Rays 4 - St Louis Cardinals 5

And, while St Louis played very well in both games, I think it would be fair to say that we played a very large part in our own downfall. On Saturday, we lost despite collecting a season-high 18 hits, in large part due to some catastrophic baserunning. We managed to make five outs on the basepaths, but even so managed to come back from four runs behind to tie the game up and send it to extra innings, only for Dan Wheeler to surrender a walk-off homerun for the bullpen's first loss in a month.

That became two in two days yesterday, following a solid, if not outstanding start from Edwin Jackson. E-Jax went only 5 1/3, but only had his scoreless streak ended after he had been removed from the game. The reason for his removal mirrored the downfall that was to follow for the Rays - after not walking a batter through the first four innings, he then walked 4 in the next 1 1/3 (he also racked up 7 strikeouts). Even after JP Howell allowed an E-Jax runner to score, and despite Wheeler giving up his second homerun in as many days (and as many pitches!) to Ryan Ludwick, we still should have been on for the win, thanks to a season-high 7 doubles and a Carl Crawford homerun.

Unfortunately however, our pitchers lost the strike zone completely - in all, 6 pitchers combined to give up 10 walks from the fifth inning onward - and it came back to bite us as the 10th one came round to net St Louis a second consecutive walk-off win in the 9th.

It was a good weekend at the plate for the Rays, making the pitching and baserunning struggles particularly frustrating - hopefully we can put it all together in Oakland starting tonight (James Shields on the mound). Particularly enjoying St Louis were our two shortstops - Jason Bartlett went 4-5 on Saturday, and Ben Zobrist got on the board for the year with a 2-4 day with a pair of doubles on Sunday.

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