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Rays can't hit, Rangers can't miss

If you're a fan of the Tampa Bay Rays, it's been a pretty rough six months.

After losing in the ALDS to the Texas Rangers, ownership cut payroll, letting go of Carl Crawford, Carlos Pena, and just about every member of the bullpen.

Things have gone from bad to worse to open the 2011 campaign, as the Rays are 0-5 for the first time in franchise history.

They are the second team in AL history to start 0-5 after having the best record in the American League the previous season, joining the 1905 Red Sox.

Notable Ray-placements
This Season

While it's still early, the players tasked with replacing the departed Rays' have struggled mightily, most notably Manny Ramirez and Johnny Damon.

The Rays as a whole have found it difficult at the plate. They are batting just .136, and have scored only seven runs through the first five games.

Even worse, they are hitting just .111 with runners in scoring position, with four hits in 36 at-bats. It appears the Rays’ hitters are starting to feel the pressure, especially with two strikes in the count.

According to Inside Edge, in Wednesday's loss against the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, the Rays’ batters chased 62 percent of pitches out of the strike zone when there were two strikes in the count. The major-league average is 36 percent.

Things won’t get any easier for the Rays on Thursday against the Chicago White Sox as they face Edwin Jackson, who no-hit Tampa Bay last season while he was with the Arizona Diamondbacks.

On the opposite end of the spectrum from the Rays are the Texas Rangers who completed a sweep of the Seattle Mariners to improve to 6-0 this season.

It is their best start since opening a franchise-best 7-0 to start the 1996 season.

They needed to get past reigning AL Cy Young winner Felix Hernandez to do so. The Rangers scored four of its seven runs off the ace who is now 5-7 all-time in Texas.

Texas has been tearing the cover off the ball leading the majors in runs scored, and extra-base hits. More importantly though has been how well the Rangers’ starting staff has pitched early, despite the loss of Cliff Lee.

Collectively they have a 2.63 ERA through six games this season. In five of those a Rangers’ starter has produced a quality start (gone at least 6 IP, allowed 3 ER or less).

This has helped make the Rangers look pretty smart for moving Neftali Feliz back into the closers role. Oh, and by the way, Feliz has made four appearances having allowed no hits and picking up two saves.