Lack of unearned runs more than 'D'

'D' not all that limits unearned runs

ST. PETERSBURG -- The Rays are one of two American League teams yet to allow an unearned run. The other is Kansas City, and it's no coincidence that both teams are in the league's top four in team fielding percentage.

"I think to this point," said Rays manager Joe Maddon, "it's because we just play such good defense."

There is more to it, though. After all, the AL East-leading Blue Jays are second to the Royals in team defense, but Toronto has allowed four unearned runs in 13 games.

The average number of unearned runs allowed in the AL last season was 60, ranging from the Rangers' 107 to the Yankees' 42. Tampa Bay was slightly better than average in 2008, allowing 53.

A big part of limiting the damage after an error is the mentality of the pitcher.

"Oftentimes for me -- the unearned run -- I like the idea that a pitcher picks up a player after a mistake," Maddon said. "A lot of times, I look at pitchers' ERAs, and those that do give up a lot of unearned runs, sometimes when things don't go well, all of a sudden they lose their focus or their concentration."

Carter Gaddis is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.