Rays baffled by their unlucky run with perfection

Rays baffled by their unlucky run with perfection

Rays baffled by their unlucky run with perfection
ANAHEIM -- Twenty-three perfect games have been thrown in the history of Major League baseball and three have been thrown against the Rays in three of the last four seasons.

Translation: 13 percent of all perfect games have been thrown against the Rays.

So the question begs to be asked: Why?

"Yeah, good question," said Ben Zobrist, who played in each of the three perfect games. "I'd like to know, too."

B.J. Upton, Carlos Pena, and Evan Longoria, like Zobrist, all played in the perfect games thrown against the Rays by Dallas Braden (May 9, 2009), Mark Buehrle (July 23, 2009) and Felix Hernandez, who threw a perfect game against the Rays on Wednesday afternoon in Seattle.

"You want to think there's some kind of pattern that you could change, something to fix it," Zobrist said. "You guys have as good a guess as we do as to what we could have done differently."

Zobrist considered the question further and noted Matt Cain and Philip Humber both threw perfect games this season, prompting him to declare "the game is changing."

"Pitchers have a lot more intel and things to know what to do with [hitters]," Zobrist said. "And know that in particular counts we're not going to swing at a certain pitch if they can throw a first strike and get ahead, and then get to their nasty stuff easier than just throwing a fastball.

"They used to throw a fastball to get ahead. They might do that the first couple of innings of the game. After that we didn't see it. We didn't see it for a good pitch to hit, the fastball. And even that, a lot of guys aren't throwing a straight fastball, a two-seamer or a cutter. ... Other than that I don't see any particular pattern."

Jame Shields, who was the Rays starter against Braden, noted that the three perfect games were simply a case of the Rays running into "some really good pitching."

"There's no real rhyme or reason to it," Shields said.

Rays manager Joe Maddon said of his group, "Offensively we're not the group that's going to tear you up all the time.

"We're kind of spread out, we rely on the entire group to play offense," Maddon said. "If we're matched up poorly as we were yesterday, it can happen. ... If we match up badly, it can happen. It can happen to anybody, but with us, there are certain games going into them I know that we don't match up very well against that pitcher. Why? Poor us, I don't know. But I'm thankful it only counts as one loss and not five."

Maddon smiled and pointed out that Hernandez pitched a complete-game, two-hit shutout against the Yankees on Aug. 4.

"And that's not bad either," Maddon said. "Relatively speaking, two-hitting the Yankees and no-hitting us is probably the same thing."

Cursed or not, the Rays have done well in the past at being able to erase the stain of having a perfect game thrown against them. In 2009, the Rays won eight of their next 12 games after Buehrle's gem. And in 2010 they won 10 of their next 12.

"We're good at forgetting things quickly," Zobrist said.

Added Shields: "Our amnesia in this clubhouse is pretty good. We know we're in the race right now. We're in the hunt for the Wild Card. And obviously the American League East. I don't think [Hernandez's perfect game is] going to affect us at all. We've got a good group of guys here and we're ready to go."