Tampa Bay Rays should be embarrassed by anemic offense

ST. PETERSBURG

They do not mash. They do not rake. They do not hit 'em where they ain't.

This, you knew.

They do not make pitchers weep. They do not make infielders flinch. They do not make opposing managers leave on the night-light.

This, you also knew.

On the other hand, you did not know they were this bad.

The Rays — the feeble, inept, powerless Rays — went down swinging Thursday afternoon, except when they went down looking, or when they went down hitting harmless ground balls and benign popups. However it took, they went down, and down again, and down so far they seem to be the weakest hitting team in playoff memory.

After two games, that has been the ugliest sight of them all. The Rays are being embarrassed, and they can't even hit back. As clubs go, this one has no clubs.

Two games in, and they have scored one run.

Two games in, and they have managed eight hits.

Two games in, and they have struck out 23 times, and 11 of those have come as the Rays looked at a called third strike.

Just asking, but does anyone know how many trees died for these bats?

Even by the low standards of the Rays, this has been an awful postseason for the offense. For crying out loud, Billy Ray Cyrus had more hits than this.

The way the Rays are swinging the bats, you wonder if they could hit a Hummer as it rolled through a car wash. (Yes, but not if a Lexus was on second base.) All in all, they look like a batting order trying to inherit the World Series by being meek.

"We can't do anything about where the ball goes," third baseman Evan Longoria said, "but we can do something about the strikeouts and the bad at-bats."

Admit it. You knew, I knew and the lumberjacks who work for Louisville Slugger knew the Rays could not hit. Heck, they spent most of the season proving that.

They finished the regular season with a .247 batting average, the worst of any team in Rays history, worse than the Hit Show and worse than the Ben Grieve Hitting Machine.

Put it this way, there hasn't been a postseason American League team with a lower batting average since the 1972 Oakland A's.

And guess what? During the regular season, the Rays were evidently overachieving. In the postseason, the average has fallen by 122 points. So far, the Rangers have whittled down the Rays' bats to the size of pencils. In two games, the Rays have one home run, two doubles and five singles, and very few of them have come when the game was in doubt. On Thursday, the Rays got their second hit of the game in the seventh inning when they were behind 6-0.

Two games in, and the Rays have a .125 batting average. Back in '98, the Rangers hit .141 while being swept by the Yankees. Looking back, that team had thunder in its sticks.

Two games in, and the Rays are hitting .077 with runners in scoring position, including nine strikeouts.

Two games in, and the Rays' batting order has a new nickname: Murdered Row.

Remind me again how this team won 96 games swinging with your grandfather's walking stick. The Rays have now been held to two hits or fewer nine times (and three hits or fewer 15 times) this season. They have now failed to get seven hits in their past nine games. They have now been shut out four times in those nine.

Again, the Rays haven't hit much all year. But they did walk a lot, and they came up with timely hits, and they managed to beat up on bad pitchers when they had the chance. In this series? The Rangers' outfielders are playing at softball distance, and still, home plate remains some mythological destination.

Consider the fourth inning, when the Rays trailed 2-0. Carl Crawford reached on an error, and Longoria — the team's other legitimate hitter — came up with a chance to tie the score. He turned the first pitch into a lazy pop to center.

Consider the seventh, when the Rays got runners to second and third with nobody out. And then got nobody in. That inning ended with the bases loaded when Jason Bartlett, too, swung at the first pitch and flied out to center.

And so it has gone. If the Rays are going to get a new stadium, they're going to need a lot more lumber before they can build it.

Two games in, and of the 16 hitters who have had plate appearances, nine are hitting .000.

Two games in, and the Rays have almost three strikeouts for every hit.

Two games in, and Longoria and Crawford are hitting .125 apiece. And they're still among the top five Rays hitters.

Yeah, this has been embarrassing. The Rays have been hapless, helpless and hopeless.

No offense intended. Or, for that matter, displayed.

Tampa Bay Rays should be embarrassed by anemic offense 10/07/10 [Last modified: Friday, October 8, 2010 8:21am]

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