07/21/08 7:30 PM ET
Rays' road woes common in AL
Only two Junior Circuit clubs are at or above .500 on road
By Bill Chastain / MLB.com
However, the fact they have a losing record on the road hardly sets the Rays apart from the rest of the teams in the American League, or baseball for that matter.
The Angels are the only American League team with a winning road record at 31-18 and the Yankees are the only AL team at .500 with a 23-23 mark. In the National League, only the Phillies (26-23) and the Cardinals (27-22) have winning road records and there are no teams at .500, which means 26 teams in baseball have losing road records.
"I can only speak from our perspective," Rays manager Joe Maddon said. "Obviously, when we come [to Tropicana Field], we're just more comfortable. I've talked about that from Day 1. I wanted us to make this into that kind of place and we have. We're among the top two or three teams in baseball in regard to home record. I'd love for it to stay that way in years to come.
"On the road, to me, it's about experience. You look at the Red Sox, they're just chock full of experience and they're having trouble on the road [21-32 record on the road]."
The Rays actually had a winning road record at 19-18 before losing seven in a row during their last road trip to New York and Cleveland.
"I always thought that if you played better than .500 on the road, you needed an experienced group," Maddon said. "That's what I've thought. Now for us, we were there prior to this last road trip, which was a nice indication [they are moving in the right direction]."
Maddon said they, as an organization, have discussed a lot of possible factors for why winning on the road has been so difficult.
"I think our starting pitching is more comfortable here than it has been on the road to this point," Maddon said. "And again, I keep bringing it up because I want them to dwell on it just a little bit, because we are driven by our starting pitching. And as we pitch better on the road, we're going to win games on the road."
Andy Sonnanstine is the only Rays starter with a winning road record at 5-2 with a 4.47 ERA.
Maddon said it is difficult to narrow down the team's road woes to one aspect other than experience.
"We just lack a little bit of experience, that's all," Maddon said. "You look in the dugout [when they are on the road], it's not like there's this big angst or concern. A lot of teams are just playing better at home and we're victimized by that. I don't know. But again, I still believe experience matters, especially late in the season during a hostile moment. You need that experience to get through it."
Bill Chastain is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.