THE GOOD: James Shields showed us that he is a winner last night. He struggled early without his best stuff and with shoddy defense behind him, but fought through it and still managed to give Joe Maddon 7 innings. For all the changes to the bullpen, the biggest reason the relief corps is better this year is because the starters are working deeper. Any bullpen will be better if it only needs to throw 2 innings instead of 3-4…And last night wasn’t any different. Shields handed the ball off in the 8th to Dan Wheeler (a role we expect he will keep once Al Reyes comes off DL) and then Troy Percival in the 9th. The two combined for 2 perfect innings…Eric Hinske continues to swing a hot bat, only this time it was against his former team and went to the tune of a double, triple and home run…Dioner Navarro added 3 hits in his return. We still can’t get over Navi. Nobody hits more line drives. And nobody hits the ball softer than Navi…Jason Bartlett finally did something productive with the bat, executing a perfect hit-and-run with Dioner Navarro running from second base.
THE BAD: James Shields walking the first two batters of the second inning, followed by the play that led to the Jays first run. On the play the Rays were only charged with 2 errors, but there should have been three plus a couple of mental errors. A ground ball to Eric Hinske’s right was bobbled after the runner on first distracted Hinske. Hinske then tried to backhand the ball to Shields covering first and missed him by 10 feet with the ball rolling towards the plate. For some reason, with a runner now on 3rd, Dioner Navarro left home to retrieve the ball. Shields sprints home to cover the plate. Throw from Navi was in time, but Shields dropped it.
THE TELLING: The Rays are now 4-0 all-time in Orlando…The Rays are 2-1 this season during our Live Blog-A-Baloos and 7-10 in all other games. Just Sayin’…The Rays need to sweep the Jays to get out of the cellar of the AL East and reach .500.
DEVIL RAYS WEBTOPIA…
- We commented on this last night during the Blog-A-Baloo, but the Rays traded for Gabe Gross from the Brewers, giving up single-A pitcher Josh Butler. Butler was the Rays 2nd round pick in the 2006 draft. Gross is a left-swinging outfielder that can play all three outfield spots…While Justin Ruggiano will likely be the first player to go, this move probably marks the end of the Nathan Haynes-era. Andrew Friedman announced during the game last night that the Rays had been talking to the Brewers about Gross since Spring Training. [Tampa Tribune]
- Outs Per Swing sees the Rays crowded outfield and wonders if the Rays should trade Eric Hinske while the value is at its peak…We say yes. [Outs Per Swing]
- Through 19 games the Rays have the best bullpen in baseball. Trever Miller says that the biggest reason is they are not walking anybody. [Bradenton Herald]
- New Ray Dan Johnson suffered from an infection in the spring that caused him to lose 30 pounds. He has since gained most of it back. [Bradenton Herald]
- Marc Lancaster notes that Dan Johnson’s injury history is quite extensive. [San Francisco Chronicle via Rays Report]
- While the Orlando Magic playoff game may have affected attendance, the Rays could not have been happy with the non-sellout or that a large portion of the crowd was not Orlando residents. [Orlando Sentinel]
- Brittany Ghiroli takes a look at the “Green” practices of the Tampa Bay Rays and notes the team will continue to make a commitment to environmental sustainablity after Earth Day. [MLB]
- The Serious Tip thinks they have figured out why Andy Sonnanstine has struggled at times this season…He’s is jinxed. [The Serious Tip]
- A couple of new renderings of the proposed waterfront stadium, with one that apparently gives a reference to how big the new stadium will be compared to existing structures. [The Heater]
- Matt Silverman and Joe Maddon were set to attend the Bruce Springsteen concert in Tampa on Monday but missed it after the show was postponed until Tuesday. [Orlando Sentinel]