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Tuesday, March 31, 2020

Articles tagged: Tampa Bay Rays

Evan Longoria zings Rays in response to coronavirus question

Evan Longoria

Like other sports leagues, Major League Baseball is at least considering the possibility of having to play games in front of empty stadiums in response to the coronavirus outbreak. As Evan Longoria reminds us, the Tampa Bay Rays may already be used to that.

Longoria, who spent the first 10 years of his career with the Rays, was asked on Tuesday about the possibility of MLB not allowing fans to attend games in order prevent the spread of coronavirus. The third baseman took a swipe at the Rays before saying he hopes it does not come to that.

It’s no secret that the Rays struggle to get fans to attend games. They rank at or near the bottom of baseball in attendance every year, and they averaged less than 15,000 fans per home game last year despite winning 96 games and reaching the postseason. This is a franchise that has explored the idea of playing half of their home games out of the country, so Longoria has a point.

Some will say Longoria’s joke was in poor taste, as the coronavirus outbreak has become a serious concern worldwide. However, we highly doubt Longoria’s intention was to make light of the situation. He was stating a fact, after all.

Watch: Brandon Lowe error allows two runs to score in Game 1 of ALDS

The Tampa Bay Rays fell behind 2-0 in the fifth inning of Game 1 of the ALDS on Friday when postseason stud Jose Altuve blasted a two-run homer, and they then proceeded to make things worse for themselves with a brutal error.

The Houston Astros had runners on second and third with two outs in the inning, and it appeared Tampa was going to escape the frame without further damage. Yuli Gurriel lifted a lazy fly ball to shallow right field that should have been a routine play for Rays second baseman Brandon Lowe, but he misplayed it and allowed it to drop.

Two runs came around to score to give the Astros a 4-0 lead. In a five-game series, those types of mistakes can have massive consequences.

We already saw a fielding error help decide which team advanced beyond the NL Wild Card Game, and that miscue from Lowe will surely be a play the Rays look back on if they’re unable to pull off the upset against Houston.

Look: Rays use five outfielders in extreme shift against Matt Olson

Rays shift

The Tampa Bay Rays are known for being one of the most creative teams in baseball, and some of their creativity was on display during the AL Wild Card Game on Wednesday night in Oakland.

When A’s first baseman Matt Olson was batting in the third inning, the Rays went into an extreme shift that included five outfielders and only two infielders.

Olson walked in the at-bat, so we didn’t get to see how well-placed the fielders may have been.

Tampa Bay obviously believes Olson is a pull hitter who also tends to hit deep fly balls, which explains why they had so many outfielders near the warning track. They also had two infielders to protect against potential bunts as well.

We saw an even more extreme shift used by the Houston Astros during the season. As teams acquire more and more data, they are able to place their defenders accordingly, just as Tampa Bay did for Olson.

Yankees had celebration prep ruined by Rays’ comeback win

New York Yankees

The New York Yankees will have to wait at least another day to celebrate their impending division title.

The AL East-best Yankees came entered play on Wednesday needing either a victory over the Los Angeles Angels or a loss by the Tampa Bay Rays to the NL-best Los Angeles Dodgers to officially clinch the division. Unfortunately, the Yankees could not take care of business and suffered a 3-2 defeat to the Angels several hours before the Rays-Dodgers game.

Kristie Ackert of the New York Daily News reported that the Yankees spent three hours watching the latter game on the clubhouse television. Bryan Hoch of MLB.com even added that workers came out of the clubhouse at one point to get more plastic sheeting in anticipation of a celebration. Lo and behold though, the Rays rallied from a two-run deficit in the top of the ninth and pulled out the 8-7 win over the Dodgers in 11 innings.

The Yankees still seem likely to clinch the division crown, their first since 2012, when play resumes again on Thursday. However, between their failed celebration prep and the news that they just received, it hasn’t exactly been the best week for them.

Rays have creative way of announcing 2020 schedule

Tampa Bay Rays logo

Major League Baseball announced its 2020 regular season schedule on Monday, leaving it up to individual teams to decide how they want to present that information to their fans.

So far, the Tampa Bay Rays are standing out for their efforts. They opted to reveal some key parts of their schedule by jumping in on the meme about storming Area 51 and looking for the aliens, and it seems they found some.

Schedule announcements have become quite the production in recent years, though the NFL has really leaned into things. Kudos to the Rays for trying something different, and it actually ends up working fairly well for them.

Marlins, Rays in funny Twitter fight

Tampa Bay Rays logo

It’s become customary for team Twitter accounts to become a bit less professional and more playful in recent years, and the Miami Marlins’ and Tampa Bay Rays’ social media teams got in on the action Sunday.

The Rays swept the Marlins in the in-state rivalry, which led to the Marlins trying to crack some jokes in the face of the Rays’ gloating.

It’s tough to top being able to tell your foe to log off because you just got swept.

These are two teams known more for their attendance issues than their on-field exploits. At the very least, maybe a fun Twitter beef can bring them some attention, especially for the struggling Marlins.

Jesus Aguilar traded from Brewers to Rays

Tampa Bay Rays logo

The Tampa Bay Rays have been looking for a right-handed bat in advance of Wednesday’s trade deadline, and they have found one with some pop.

According to multiple reports, the Rays have acquired first baseman Jesus Aguilar in a trade with the Brewers. The Rays are sending right-hander pitcher Jacob Faria to Milwaukee in the deal.

Aguilar is hitting just .225 with eight home runs and 34 RBI in what has been a down year for him, but the 29-year-old was an All-Star last season. He posted career highs across the board in 2018 with 35 homers, 108 RBI and an OPS of .891. Aguilar is hitting .298 in the month of July, so he could be finally starting to come out of his prolonged slump.

The deal falls under the low risk/high reward category for the Rays, who are 7.5 games back of the New York Yankees in the AL East and just a half-game back in the wild card.