Devil Rays 4, Indians 3 (12 innings).
PLAYING A LIL’ PEPPER WITH THE RAYS (random thoughts on yesterday’s game)…
Joel Guzman hits singles? When did that start happening?
How many people watched the game-winning hit and thought there was no way Jonny Gomes was going to score. We still aren’t sure how he managed to cross the plate after Guzman hit the ground ball up the middle and Gomes’ first move was to start running back to second base.
We have talked a lot recently about the horrible Rays defense. In the 10th inning we saw a perfect example of how bad the defense can be without committing an error. With a runner on first base and 1 out, Trot Nixon is facing Al Reyes with the score tied 2-2. Reyes is not a hard thrower, so a lefty is more likely to pull the ball through the hole on the right side, so Brendan Harris was cheating a little in the direction. Nixon hit a routine ground ball to Harris’ right. Harris basically took one step and then fell down in what we can only assume was an attempt to dive for the ball. It should have been a tailor-made double play. Rather, it was now first and third with 1 out. Harris not only showed perhaps the worst range ever for a second baseman, but he also showed a lack of natural baseball instincts. While he needs to cheat a little towards the hole with Reyes on the mound, he should have noticed that Dioner Navarro had set up about six inches off the plate, away, from the batter. Even at 87 mph, there is no way Nixon is pulling that ball. Harris should have been leaning up the middle before the pitch was even thrown.
We know this is unlikely, but it was hard not to watch the game yesterday and wonder what if Joel Guzman could hit well enough to be a major leaguer and play defense well enough to be a 6’6″ shortstop? It would settle a lot of issues with the Devil Rays lineup in 2008 and beyond. Evan Longoria at third, Goose at short, Iwamura at second, Upton in center. Rocco in another uniform after being flipped for a middle of the rotation starter, and Brendan Harris as the utility infielder. Not a bad lineup…Not bad at all.
It is fun watching BJ Upton in center field, and it looks like BJ Upton is having fun playing center field. He must be kicking himself for being so stubborn about switching positions the last two years. He is basically Alfonso Soriano with a better glove.
James Shields needs a nickname. The problem is he is almost boring on the mound. But that is a good thing. He is a professional. Yesterday, he walked the first batter of the game, and Shields actually showed a little emotion, that we don’t recall ever seeing from him before. He was right to be upset. That walk led to a run, but he settled down and did not walk another batter.
DEVIL RAYS WEBTOPIA…
- Ben Zobrist was placed on the DL with a strained oblique. Joel Guzman was called up from Durham to take Zobrist’s spot in the roster. [tampabay.com]
- Joel Guzman could see playing time at all four infield positions. [TBO]
- Some guy named Rocco Baldelli will begin a rehab assignment this week with the Vero Beach Devil Rays. We vaguely remember hearing about this kid. Supposed to be pretty good, but something happened to him…He will play four games this week, and will play a grand total of three innings in center field. The rest of the time will be served as a DH. [Devil Rays]
- Joe Henderson believes that bringing Joe Maddon is the right move. [TBO]
- Manny Stiles is back on the radar and he has set out to debunk 12 myths about the Devil Rays, including “Tropicana Field is horrible”, “Joe Maddon isn’t a good manager” and “The Devil Rays are the worst team in baseball.” We agree with most of Manny’s points, but know that the argument will fall on deaf ears to most. [Armchair GM]
- We are big fans of Paul Lukas of ESPN and UniWatchBlog. In his most recent ESPN column, Lukas tackles uniform prototypes for professional teams that never made it onto the field or the court. Two of the local teams were mentioned in the article. First, we are all familiar with and likely scarred by the Devil Rays Rainbow Warriors uniforms. And most probably remember the hideous patch that adorned the sleeves in the inaugural season as seen HERE. Apparently that trumped a patch that as produced, but never used, which would have been easier on the eyes, as seen HERE. Lukas also points us to some prototype helmets that the Buccaneers toyed with before settling on their current design. This reminds us too much of the Tampa Bay Bandits…The Black design is hideous…But we kinda like the white, that reminds us of the South Carolina Gamecocks helmets. And apparently distance does make the heart grow fonder, because sometimes we do miss Bucco Bruce. [ESPN]