THE GOOD: Eric Hinske hit his 4th home run and is red hot. That is a home run in back-to-back games and 3 in the past week, of which he has started 6 games. Since April 9, he is 9-24 (.375) with 3 home runs and 5 RBI…We would be remiss if we did not point out the great stop and throw made by Jason Bartlett for the 2nd out in the 3rd. With a runner on first and 1 out, Bartlett ranged to his right to grab a ground ball in the hole, spun 180 degrees and fired to Akinori Iwamura at second base for the force…The bullpen continues to shine. JP Howell picked up his first career save, of the 3-inning variety. He did not allow a run and gave up only 2 hits, no walks. The bullpen now has an ERA of 3.08, which is a little better than the 6.20 ERA posted in 2007…We don’t want to go crazy about Jason Hammel’s performance, 6 hits, 2 walks, 3 runs in 6 innings, but he has given the Rays exactly what any team needs from a 5th starter. He goes out and gives the Rays 6+ inning, and gives the team a chance to win.
THE BAD: Carlos Pena left the game in the 4th inning with “hamstring tightness”. He is listed as day-to-day…In the 4th inning, with the Rays up 3-1 and with Justin Morneau on second base after a lead off double, Delmon Young came to the plate. Why would anybody ever throw Young a first-pitch strike? There is ZERO reason. Hammel throws a pitch down, but in the zone and Young ropes it for an RBI single. Not smart…Will the baserunning brainfarts ever end? With 2 outs in the 6th, Carl Crawford was picked off first base.
THE TELLING:The Rays are now 1-2 in games started by Hammel, meaning that the Rays have lost at most 2 wins so far due to the injury of Scott Kazmir, but more likely only 1 win…Evan Longoria is not about to sell out on any pitches. With 2 strikes in the 5th inning, he nearly spun himself into the ground with a huge swing. He struck out…Jonny Gomes started for the 3rd straight game and the 2nd straight against a right handed pitcher, going 1-4 with a double and RBI…Mike DiFelice got his 3rd start in 5 games, and we have to wonder if he stays once Dioner Navarro comes off the DL and it is Shawn Riggans that is sent to Durham…The Yankees play in Baltimore this weekend and we have no idea who to root for? It depends on whether you are rooting for the Rays to finish 4th or if you think there is still a chance for the Rays to make a run for the playoffs…San Diego and Colorado did not score a single run for the first 14 innings last night. Considering the Rays offense, the offenses of the rest of the AL East and the still shaky nature of the Rays pitching staff, what is the over/under on most innings the Rays will go this year in a game with a scoreless tie? We say 6.
DEVIL RAYS WEBTOPIA…
- Another power ranking with the Rays in the top 10? Hell is a little colder today. [Bugs & Cranks]
- Jayson Stark takes a look at some early season performances and tries to determine which are real and which are not. Edwin Jackson comes in a third category “Hung Jury”. [ESPN]
“…while he had more “for real” votes than “not for real,” he even makes his supporters nervous. One scout praised his improved take-a-little-off-to-get-strike-one approach, quipping: “He’s like a NASCAR driver working the gas pedal. When he goes into the corners, he slows up. When he gets into a straightaway, he lets it loose.” But another spoke for just about everyone when he said: “I’d lean more toward ‘for real’ than not. But even when he’s good, your instinct is not to believe it because you’ve seen too much of the other way.”
- Juan Salas has finally arrived. It is like the Beatles landing in the U.S. for the first time. WooHoo! Salas was placed on the 30-day restricted list, in essence giving the Rays 30 days before they have to decide what to do with him. [MLB]
- If you are curious, Marc Lancaster explains why the Rays just played back-to-back 2-game series. [Tampa Tribune]
- In a move about as surprising as a Shawn Camp implosion, St. Petersburg’s Council of Neighborhood Associations voted against the Rays proposed waterfront stadium, 19-3…The council cited reasons such as “will block view of the bay”, “fear of crowds”, “fear of change”, “onorariness”, “worried other people will want to live in downtown St. Pete” and “a love of being pains in the ass”…OK, maybe they didn’t give those reasons, but those are the real reasons. [Bay News 9]