Tampa Bay Rays Done? Evan Longoria Injury, Bad Start Doom AL East Chances

Mark E. SmithCorrespondent IApril 6, 2011

NEW YORK - SEPTEMBER 23:  Evan Longoria #3 of the Tampa Bay Rays looks on against the New York Yankees  on September 23, 2010 at Yankee Stadium in the Bronx borough of New York City.  (Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images)
Mike Stobe/Getty Images

I know it hasn't even been a full week since Opening Day, so writing off any team seems a bit premature.

However, the circumstances surrounding the Tampa Bay Rays' start appear very troubling and I am confident in saying that they are out.

First off, they did the unthinkable to start a season and were swept at home by the (ready for this?) Baltimore Orioles.

That was not a misprint—the Baltimore Orioles, who had not had a three game sweep of any team on the road since Boog Powell was around (not true, just a very liberal exaggeration), dominated the Rays' season-opening series.

In fact, the Rays were so bad that they managed only three runs in those three games.

Next, the Rays lost their first game against the Angels to make it an 0-4 start.

Only one team, the Cardinals in 1985, has ever started with that record and gone on to the World Series.

Now, I realize it's only four games. That doesn't amount to many when you consider the long season ahead. However, given the tough division in which they play and the players they lost, it may be gone already.

The Yankees and Red Sox (who also started miserably) are simply going to be too much to be able to keep up with this year. Losing guys like Carl Crawford and Matt Garza in the offseason did not help their chances.

The worst news for the Rays came when Evan Longoria went down with a strained oblique.

He was placed on the 15-day disabled list and is expected to miss three weeks.

The Rays are dead-last in the majors in most offensive categories. What's more, with the way the bats are going for them, by the time he comes back at the end of the month, Tampa Bay could be still looking for their first win (probably another exaggeration on my part).

Longoria will probably come back and be just as great as ever, be an undoubted All-Star and get his team to rally back to where they at least finish ahead of the Orioles. But their chances for this year just don't look good.

Among optimistic baseball fans, I've always heard people say, "Don't panic in April," or, "There's still a lot of baseball left."

For Rays fans, however, I think the panic is warranted—and while there is still a lot of baseball, that may just mean it's going to be a long season.