For the baseball fans in Tampa Bay who were expecting to see their beloved Rays battling it out with the powers of the American League East on a regular basis, this weeks series with the last place Toronto Blue Jays (13-22) must be at least somewhat frustrating. After losing the first two games of the four-game series on Monday and Tuesday by a total of just three runs, the Rays finally got a win against the visiting Blue Birds on Wednesday in a 10-4 victory.
Leading the way for Tampa was starter Matt Moore, who improved to a very solid 6-0 on the year with a 2.14 era, and gave the hometown fans what they’ve been waiting to see all week. Taking the loss once again for the Jays, was Ricky Romero who fell to 0-2 with a nauseating 12.46 earned run average in two starts. Since being called up from the minors last week in a move motivated by desperation, Romero once again blew what could have very well been his last opportunity to play for Toronto on any level.
Thursday’s game however, will feature two pitchers who less than a year ago were named baseball’s best and awarded the prestigious Cy Young Award, an award given to the best pitcher in both the American and National Leagues. Unfortunately, alot can change in less than a year.
Tampa Bay starter and 2012 American League Cy Young Award winner David Price (1-3), 6.25 era in 7 starts, will face Toronto’s newly acquired veteran knuckle baller, R.A. Dickey (2-5), 5.36 era through 7 starts, who won the 2012 National League Cy Young Award while pitching for the New York Mets.
While both pitchers were expected to experience some drop-off in their overall production from 2012, the decrease, especially in the case of Dickey, should definitely be cause for serious concern.
At the end of 2012, the 38 year-old Dickey had compiled a very impressive 20-6 record, with an earned run average of 2.73, a 1.05 whip, 230 strikeouts, three shutouts, and also five complete games.
Tampa Bay’s David Price who is currently 27 years old and 10 years younger than Dickey, also managed to win 20 games last year (20-5), while posting a 2.55 era, with 205 strikeouts a 1.09 whip, two complete games and a shutout for good measure.
The Blue Jays acquired Dickey this past offseason in one of several attempts to rebuild the franchise and also give the Jay’s a marquee-type name that could help the team compete with the Red Sox, Yankees, Orioles, and of course, Tampa Bay this season. Brought in to anchor the team’s starting rotation, Dickey has been at best, unreliable thus far and continues to be plagued by both tightness and pain, as well as other nagging injuries that are common in a player his age.
While the much younger Price isn’t having to deal with adjusting to a new team, he hasn’t been immune to the drop in productivity either. Not surprisingly, Price can relate to the problems that Dickey has been experiencing this year and likely recognizes the same struggles in his own situation.
” I don’t know what his record is or anything like that, but I know he can pitch better than how he’s been pitching and so can I.”
While fans in both Tampa Bay (15-18) and Toronto very likely marked their calenders upon the announcement of tonight’s starting pitchers, the fact remains that both of these hurlers are in desperate need of a win. With Tampa Bay currently sitting in fourth place, 5.5 games back of both Baltimore and Boston, the Blue Jays will once again be trying to claw their way out last in the A.L. East.
Next up for the Blue Birds will be a stop in Beantown to face the first-place Red Sox for a weekend series, while the Rays will continue their homestand and break out the good china for the San Diego Padres who will be in Florida over the weekend for a three-game series of their own.