DRG here again to get you through the weekend. I can be reached here

Yesterday: Tampa Bay Rays.

  • The Good: In what might be the biggest series to date in the history of the franchise, the Rays played the best defense I have ever seen. The diving catches. The diving stops. Stops in the hole. Double plays. Nobody went for a potty break without calling time with a runner on third base….Joe Maddon’s crystal ball that predicted Nathan Haynes would win the game in the 11th. Inexplicably Maddening Maddon pinch ran for Carlos Pena in the bottom of the 9th inning with a runner on third base ahead of Pena. Pena’s run means nothing, so if Maddon was worried about Pena’s recent leg issues, Pena did not have to run and he was in the DH slot so he didn’t have to play the field. There was absolutely no reason to pinch-run there and yet Papa Joe proved he is smarter than all of us. Instead of having a top 10 MVP bat at the plate with a chance to win the game in the 11th, he went with his gut and put the game on the line with guy with an OBP near the Medoza line. And Haynes came through. I bow in awe to the genius that is Joe Maddon’s crystal ball of wackiness.
  • The Bad: Whiskey
  • The Telling: The last time the Rays won 5 in a row was August 21, 2005. The winning pitchers in that streak were, Chad Orvella, Trever Miller, Seth McClung, Scott Kazmir and Casey Fossum. No shit.

DEVIL DOGS WEBTOPIA

  • I love how Red Sox fans all of the sudden think it is their birthright to win. And boy do they not take well to losing to the “Devil Rays”. [Tales From The Ballpark]
  • Al Reyes will start a rehab assignment in the next day or two and will be back with the Rays next Thursday. Cliff Floyd will begin a rehab assignment next week and could rejoin the Rays on May 9th after their road trip. [Rays Report]
  • In an interesting twist, Dan Johnson cleared waivers and accepted an assignment to AAA Durham. Not sure who has been dropped, but Durham has some changes to make as all the recent demotions from the Rays has left the Bulls with a very crowded roster. [Rays Report]
  • Marc Lancaster says Evan Longoria is struggling against lefties. Dirtbag has an OPS of .951. I can’t wait to see how well he hits once he figures out lefties. [Tampa Tribune]
  • Jayson Stark looks a the lack of a long-term deal for BJ Upton and suggests that the Upton brothers may not be willing to sign at below market-value. [ESPN]
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16 Comments

  1. DirtbagFan says:

    What an awesome game to watch. I wavered back and forth on whether or not to go to the game, and unfortunately decided not to expose my son to the moron Sox fans... in retrospect i wish we would've gone.

    Hats-off to the Defensive effort (except for Aki's brain-fart), amazing! Even ol' noodle-arm Bartlett made a few plays.

    How about Wheeler manning-up and taking on 2 of baseball's best hitters with the game on the line and quickly proceeding to chop them down to size?!

    Random observation: Big Poopee is stressing during every at bat as if the pennant was on the line with every pitch... until he chills out I don't think he'll snap out of his funk- which is fine by me (now watch, he'll go 5 for 5 tonight with 2 homers just to make me look bad).

    As long as the wheels don't fall off of the "No-win-Jackson" Train tonight I think you may be looking at sweep of the Sox... how sweet would that be??!!

    sidenote:
    How infuriating is it to STILL have to listen to Red Sox Nation roar with every sox hit in OUR house...... grrrrrr

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  2. DirtbagFan says:

    Oh yeah, I almost forgot... did anyone else notice the Gabe Gross throw to third to hold Lugo at second (i can't remember if it was the 8th or 9th inning)... awesome!

    In fact, my wife even said it was "Delmon Young-esque", and I agree!

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  3. Robert Rittner says:

    My son and I were wondering about that substitution as well, particularly as there remained the possibility of that spot coming up again at bat. It is possible that the leg was the issue because Pena would have to run to second, and on a slow roller or hit in the hole might have been forced to stretch it out to beat the force. It was a risky move in terms of the game, but perhaps the safest move given Pena's leg problem.

    Bartlett had a brief episode of poor throws this year, but he has a terrific shortstop arm as demonstrated by the wonderful play from deep in the third base hole. He is a joy to watch and a major reason the Rays' pitchers seem so much improved. He made at least 2 outstanding plays and another very athletic one as well as all the routine ones.

    It is irritating beyond belief to be flooded by Boston fans, but it was nice to shut them up, and as we were wildly cheering the finish, two Boston rooters shook our hands quite graciously on the way out.

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  4. DirtbagFan says:

    RR: You may or may not know more about baseball than me, but I can assure you that the pitching is not one little iota better because of confidence in Noodle-arm. He may have good instincts, but his footwork is horrible, and his defense is definately not good enough to offset his lack of offensive production (yet).

    Yes, he did have that one nice play, but his footwork was still aweful...

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  5. Jordi says:

    I went to the game. Let's me break it down Cork-style:

    The Good: the bullpen. Bartlett's defense. There is no way the 2007 Devil Rays win that game. You cannot convince me otherwise.

    The Bad: Baserunning, baserunning, baserunning. BJ Upton continues to get thrown out at 3rd base for no reason. The 3rd base side fans need those Forrest Gump "stop!" signs when BJ gets on second. If Upton doesn't try to steal 3rd he scores on Longoria's hit. Game over in 9.

    The Ugly: Matt Garza's control. For an inning, I thought I was watching Edwin Jackson circa 2007. Also, Sawx fans are annoying and are very sore losers, especially when you point out that Big Popi is barely hitting half his weight.

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  6. Anonymous says:

    Jordi, I'm sure it was hard to see live, but BJ was safe by about 2 feet. The ump started to call him out before the ball got to the glove.

    Which leaves me to wonder if we will ever get one call to go our way this year.

    I don't like to complain about the umpiring, but c'mon.

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  7. Anonymous says:

    and in that particular situation, it was a good play to try and take 3rd.

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  8. DirtbagFan says:

    Upton has done a fine job of base-running this year, he just can't catch a break...

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  9. Sean G says:

    Maddon said before the game that the only reason Pena wasn't in the lineup as because he was slumping and has a horrible stat line against Wakefield. Maddon said "it wouldn't be fair" to send him out there. It had nothing to do with his recent injury.

    it worked last night, but i sure hope Papa Joe doesnt try to pull that crap again. we have now oficially used up our "Count on Haynes to win the game in the clutch" cards.

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  10. WiNKy Oconklin says:

    Seeing that we've got some fans in here with some kids. Let me just say... don't ever be the guy who let's his son wear his Rays jersey, with a Boston hat. I see it every year at the Trop, and no, I don't care if he's only seven years old.

    And if you do see some douchebag allowing it, please accordingly teach your kids to beat up any kid that dresses like that. I know this sounds kind of harsh, but trust me, it builds character.

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  11. DirtbagFan says:

    winky:
    I agree- I understand that you were semi-joking, but in all reality what sort of psychological precedence are people like that setting for their children??

    Essentially teaching: if your current wife isn't that great then keep her around and go find a better version on the side, so you can have your cake and eat it too...

    Or, on a simpler level- at the very least- it denounces loyality in general...

    new bumper sticker:

    "my rays fan son kicks your rays/sox fan son's butt !!!"
    -winky

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  12. Robert Rittner says:

    I was only speculating on the reason Haynes pinch ran for Pena, but this quotation is from Scott at Rays of Light:

    "RE: Pena… I too was STUNNED when Maddon took him out for the pinch-runner. But then I heard that announcers mention that Pena’s hamstring was bothering him again. They made it sound like it was too much of a risk to even have him need to sprint from first to second on a ball up the middle/in the hole in which there might be a force play at second. I’m willing to give Maddon the benefit of the doubt there because of the injury concern."

    Apparently the hamstring may have been the reason, and if so, Maddon's decision is defensible.

    I usually object to criticisms of manager's specific moves because they are made in a vacuum of information, or at least a severely restricted arena of knowledge. Why not first puzzle out all the possible reasons before criticizing? At least then one can disagree while still respecting the argument for the other side.

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  13. Devil Ray Guevara says:

    "everybody lies"

    why are you so quick to trust when it is in their best interest to lie?

    if his legs were the issue, which goes against what Maddon said before the game, then answer me this:

    Why was it OK for Pena to run from home to first but not from first to second? and keep in mind he had to swing the bat and swinging the bat is 70% legs. it makes no sense.

    either Pena should not have been in there at all or he should have stayed in. Maddon did something else entirely.

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  14. WiNKy Oconklin says:

    Akinori Iwamura... you beautiful, beautiful small little Japanese man.

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  15. Robert Rittner says:

    It is not a question of believing or not. It is a matter of allowing for a variety of explanations and not assuming that the manager is an idiot or is doing things without a defensible reason.

    Maddon has been in the game for 35 years or so. Is it credible that he does not realize the danger of pinch running in that situation? I don't think so. Therefore, I have to at least consider other possibilities. Maybe the one I considered is wrong, but it is more reasonable than to assume Maddon was unaware of the situation.

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  16. Robert Rittner says:

    I am reposting this from a response I made to you on another site:

    "DRG, on another site you said this:

    “either Pena should not have been in there at all or he should have stayed in. Maddon did something else entirely.”

    You introduced that post with the statement “everyone lies”, referring I think to Maddon’s explanation for his decision, or perhaps to his earlier statement to the presss about Pena’s condition.

    Where I disagree is in the “either/or” view of the matter as if motivation is simply based on 2 alternatives or 2 factors. I think it the same oversimple approach as in the discussion over keeping Longoria in the minors to start the year. In fact, even that introductory statement, “everyone lies”, no matter what it referred to, reflects the same oversimplification in my view.

    I begin with this assumption. Maddon is an experienced baseball man and not stupid. Therefore, if he does something apparently inexplicable, while he may be making a stupid decision as we all do occasionally, it is also possible that his reasoning is legitimate.

    Perhaps he is balancing options and risk/reward. I commented at the time that it was ironic that having been quoted earlier as saying Pena needed to focus on hitting singles and the homers would follow, he put Carlos in a situation where he was obviously hoping for a home run.

    So at that moment, he is balancing the injury possibility with the possibility that Pena does not have to run at all, and that he can swing without injuring himself. Perhaps he has even instructed him not to run full out to 1B. In any case, the risk/reward may skew his thinking to hope for the reward. Perhaps the risk is really minimal or not even significant.

    Once on first however, there is nothing Pena can do to win the game, so now the risk/reward is different. Why take even a scintilla of risk when as you say his run means nothing! In fact, you may improve your chances of ending it here with the speedy Haynes beating a throw to 2B.

    As for his comments to the paper either earlier or afterwards, lying misrepresents what is going on. I may be oversimplifying his options too. He may have 5 different factors to consider and many combinations of motives. Do you really think he is going to explain the complex decision making process in a quick interview or press conference? Or that the papers want him too. They would not print it nor even listen; it could take 15 minutes just to begin explaining, so he has to distill the point, focus it quickly to the reporters can write something. Of course it is superficial and even misleading. He is not being dishonest. He is simply providing copy and probably informing us about some part of his thinking.

    It occurs to me that if I were to criticize Maddon’s decisions in that game, it would be allowing Haynes to take 2B on catcher indifference, because that took the bat out of Longoria’s hands. I might have preferred Longoria against the righty with 1st and 3rd than Hinske against the lefty with 2nd and 3rd. (although Hinske did hit that ball hard.)

    In fact, that is why I thought he did not bunt with Haynes in the 11th. Had he done so, I am sure they would have walked Longoria again and tried to get a DP from Hinske. This way, even if Haynes made out (the most likely event), unless he hit into a DP the Rays still had 2 men on and 2 chances with Longoria and Hinske to score one of them."

    As someone very accurately pointed out here before, I am extraordinarily wordy, but even were I to edit out all the extra verbiage, I still have only touched on the way real people make decisions. Can you imagine Maddon trying to explain even a small portion of this to the press?

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