2014 Tampa Bay Rays
2014 Tampa Bay Rays / Franchise: Tampa Bay Rays / BR Team Page
Managed by Joe Maddon
History, Comments, Contributions
After earning one of two wild card slots in the American League in 2013, the 2014 Tampa Bay Rays were expected once again to contend for a playoff spot, but the season did not at all go as planned. After going 11-16 in April, putting them in last place in the AL East, the team went through a really bad skid the next month, bringing them to depths unseen since they were known as the Tampa Bay Devil Rays and had made the basement their home. From May 26-June 4th, they lost 9 consecutive games to fall to 14 games below .500, giving them the most losses and worst winning percentage (.383) in all of major league baseball at that time. An 0-8 road trip to start the streak was the worst in team history, and they had not been that far below the break-even mark since 2007. Part of the blame had to be placed on injuries, with starters Matt Moore, Alex Cobb and Jeremy Hellickson having made 8 starts combined, while RF Wil Myers was also on the disabled list. However, it was general mediocrity rather than a spectacular lack of production from key players that was fueling all the losses, a much more difficult problem to address.
The Rays did get their pitching untracked in June, when they set a new major league record for strikeouts in a month by logging 287 K's. The 2002 Chicago Cubs had previously held the mark with 286. The record-breaking strikeout came in the 12th and final inning of the last game of the month, a 4-3 win over the New York Yankees, when Brad Boxberger struck out Ichiro Suzuki. The turnaround continued in July, ending talk that the Rays would be major sellers at the trading deadline. On July 26th, they shut out the reeling Boston Red Sox, 3-0, for their 9th straight victory. They were now back within two games of the .500 mark, and could see the fringes of the wild card race on the horizon. More than that, they were only 6 1/2 games back of the division-leading Baltimore Orioles, as no team had been able to run away with the AL East lead in the first four months of the year. However, when the trading deadline did roll around, they traded away their ace, David Price, in return for younger and cheaper players - P Dan Straily and IF Nick Franklin were the key acquisitions, indicating that the front office did not believe the team was poised to make a run at the postseason.
On August 15th, the Rays made it back to .500 for the first time since April 22nd by shutting out the New York Yankees, 5-0, to even their record at 61-61. They were only the fourth team in history to have climbed back from 18 games below the break-even mark: the 2004 Devil Rays had also done so, while the 2006 Florida Marlins made it back from 20 below and the 1899 Louisville Colonels were 22 games below before returning to .500. However, climbing back to .500 turned out to be the highlight of the season, as the Rays could not maintain the pace afterwards. Their 83rd loss, 11-3 to the Red Sox on September 24th, ensured that they would have their first losing season since they were the last-place Devil Rays in 2007.
Awards and Honors
- All-Star: David Price