Make us your home page

Get the quickest, smartest news, analysis and photos from the Bucs game emailed to you shortly after the final whistle.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Weird lineup doesn't help as Tampa Bay Rays lose to Texas Rangers

ARLINGTON, Texas — The move can be defended with data, statistics showing that Rays manager Joe Maddon's surprising decision to move rookie catcher John Jaso to the leadoff spot was actually a logical progression of thought.

But it can be perceived as an act of desperation, his latest and most extreme attempt to invigorate an offense that has become inconsistent and too many times, as again in Saturday's 6-1 loss to Texas, stunningly ineffective.

It was the 40th lineup Maddon has used in 56 games, and he plans to stick with the plan (against right-handers), though the initial results were hardly encouraging. Jaso went 0-for-4 and the Rays got five hits total against Tommy Hunter in his season debut and were 0-for-5 with runners in scoring position.

A rough first inning by starter James Shields — including a two-run homer to onetime Rays prospect Josh Hamilton — and an overall sloppy day on the bases and in the field didn't help. The Rays — still with the majors' best record at 36-20 and a two-game AL East lead — need a win today to avoid their first losing road trip.

Maddon turned to Jaso because of his team-high on-base percentage and penchant for working good at-bats, hoping it would create more scoring opportunities.

"We still don't have like an offensive identity," he said. "We're still searching for that based on some guys not hitting at their normal levels right now, and then you've got (Jason Bartlett) being injured, which throws a wrench into the whole thing also."

They don't hit for a high average (.255, eighth in the league) or hit a lot of homers (49, seventh), and they could get on base more (.333, sixth) and strike out less (442, 13th).

Their early season prowess was the product of an unusually high success rate with runners in scoring position, as well as extraordinary pitching, and it wasn't realistic to expect either trend to continue.

After hitting a major-league-best .336 with runners in scoring position through April 30, they have hit .228 since, which ranks at or near the bottom, and just .173 (19-for-110) in their current 4-8 skid.

Maddon believes it will be a two-step process to recovery,

First, he said, "We've gotten away from really working good at-bats in some situations." Second is for Carlos Peña (down to .169) and B.J. Upton (.218) to be content taking small steps back, "to really suppress the urge to try to get it all back at once."

Though there were some looks of disbelief around the clubhouse about the lineup — Jaso became the first catcher to lead off in team history, and first in an AL game since Oakland's Kurt Suzuki on May 4, 2009 — the players get Maddon's drift.

"He's trying to find a way to make this whole entire thing run the right way, and I don't blame him," Peña said. "The ideal thing would be to put one lineup up there and just know things are going to work out. But I know what he's trying to do: He's trying to light a fire some way."

"It really all depends on what kind of identity he wants us to have; with the guys we have, there's a lot of different ways he can go with it," Evan Longoria said. "As time goes on throughout the season, maybe he finds that one lineup or two that are a little different, and that will become part of our offensive identify. But I don't think we've really had a chance to develop one yet."

Marc Topkin can be reached at

Rangers 6

Rays 1

Weird lineup doesn't help as Tampa Bay Rays lose to Texas Rangers 06/05/10 [Last modified: Saturday, June 5, 2010 11:13pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Roger Mooney's takeaways from Saturday's Rays-Rangers game

    The Heater

    Judging by those who were asking for them before Saturday's giveaways, those who tried to get an extra one or two once inside the Trop and those who quickly slipped theirs on before finding their seats, the DJ Kitty Onesie might be the Rays' most popular giveaway. Ever.

  2. Rays vs. Rangers, 1:10 p.m. Sunday, Tropicana Field

    The Heater

    Today: vs. Rangers

    1:10, Tropicana Field

    TV/radio: Fox Sports Florida; 620-AM, 760-AM (Spanish)

    PORT CHARLOTTE, FL - FEBRUARY 26:  Pitcher Jake Odorizzi #23 of the Tampa Bay Rays poses for a portrait at Charlotte Sports Park during photo day on February 26, 2014 in Port Charlotte, Florida.  (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)
  3. Gators pick up commitment from 5-star QB Matt Corral


    Florida has picked up a major commitment toward its 2018 recruiting class, getting a pledge Saturday night from quarterback Matt Corral, rated a five-star recruit by Rivals and Scout.

  4. Warren Sapp has firsthand advice as Bucs try to toughen up


    TAMPA — It was a molten morning, surface of Mercury, on the football field at Skyway Park, near Tampa International Airport. Hall of Fame defensive tackle Warren Sapp was working with some of the Bucs' defensive linemen. HBO Hard Knocks crews followed them. Training camp was a week away. Sapp pointed to …

    Bucs defensive tackle Warren Sapp made it clear as a rookie that he wasn’t backing down from anyone, mixing it up with the Dolphins during summer scrimmages. [Times file]
  5. Rays Tales: With Rays surprising buyers, a look back at previous deadline deals

    The Heater

    The buildup to this July 31 trading deadline is different for the Rays, for the rudimentary reason that they are working — feverishly, from what we hear — to add on to a team they feel has a legitimate chance to make a playoff run.

    Tampa Bay Rays starting pitcher David Price (14) throws a strike to open up the first inning of the Pittsburgh Pirates at the Tampa Bay Rays in Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla. on Wednesday, June 25, 2014.