THE GOOD: Matt Garza finally discovered the strikezone. He had shown improvement in his last start, but yesterday he was dominating. 10 strikeouts. 2 walks. 77 of 114 pitches for strikes (67.5%). He was also 23-30 (77%) in getting strike-one on the batter, and two of the batters in which he fell behind 1-0, were the final two batters he faced, when it was questionable that Garza should still be in the game. Garza was 60% strike-one in his last start and that was a huge improvement over the start before that in which he was ahead of the batter only 40% of the time. Also, one of the big knocks on Garza is that he relies too much on his fastball. Prior to yesterday’s game he had thrown his fastball 75% of the time. Yesterday, he did a better job of mixing in his other pitches, as fastballs accounted for only 64% of his pitches.
THE BAD: Seeing Troy Percival crumple to the ground after a pitch. We have been wondering aloud since the spring whether we could get an entire season out of Percy. The injury does not appear serious, but we would be surprised if Percival does not get a cursory trip to the DL just to be safe…Jason Bartlett batting 6th? Yes. It was a left-handed starter and Bartlett is hitting near .300 this season against lefties, but is this the guy we want protecting Evan Longoria in the lineup? Apparently it is the batter the Rangers wanted “protecting” Dirtbag as they intentionally walked Longoria in the first inning with 2 outs and got Bartlett to ground out to kill the rally.
THE TELLING: If Troy Percival does go on the DL (we have to think that Percy will have to talk his way out of a 2-week vacation), the Rays appear to have three options to replace him on the roster. Juan Salas and Kurt Birkins are already on the 40-man roster and Grant Balfour who is not. Balfour has dominated the IL this season. He has 39 strikeouts and only 5 hits allowed and 10 walks in 23.2 innings. He has given up only 1 earned run. Salas has 15 strikeouts in 11.2 innings, but has been touched for 6 runs on 10 hits and 4 walks. However, 5 of those runs came in his first appearance of the season…The Rays have three players on the roster that can be listed as “right fielders”, and yet Ben Zobrist got the start in right yesterday. This tells us that the Rays are leaning towards dropping one of their regular (too many) right fielders when Willy Aybar comes off the DL…The Rangers entered this series red hot with an 8-0-1 record in their last 9 series. The Rays are now 6-1 in their last 7 series…Stuart Sternberg wanted 50 home wins and we chuckled a little. After all, he wanted 50 home wins last year and the Rays finished 37-44. After yesterday’s win the Rays are now 21-9 at home, on pace to finish with a 57-24 home record in ’08…
DEVIL RAYS WEBTOPIA…
- Don’t forget to VOTE for Carl Crawford to start the all-star game. If you haven’t voted yet today, go NOW! [MLB All-Star Voting]
- Troy Percival underwent an MRI on his hamstring. [Rays Report]
- Marc Lancaster speculates that Grant Balfour could be promoted from Durham if Troy Percival needs a trip to the DL. Balfour is not on the 40-man roster, but there is an open slot on the roster at this time. [Rays Report]
- If you want to get on the attendance at the Trop, fine. But yesterday should not be cited as evidence the area won’t support baseball. It was a Wednesday afternoon game that started at 12:30. Schools are still in session and most importantly it was the TEXAS RANGERS. Not exactly a team that Rays fans are going to skip work for. [Fox Sports]
- For the first time in the history of the Rays franchise, we present to you a Power Rankings with the Tampa Bay Rays, as the #1 team in baseball. Great Googly Moogly. [Bugs and Cranks]
- Beyond the Boxscore takes a look at why Carl Crawford’s numbers are down this season. [Beyond the Boxscore]
- Tampa Bay Sports Blog feels that the Rays are winning in spite of Joe Maddon. They list several pieces of evidence, most notably from yesterday’s game…Our only objection is the notion that Maddon doesn’t utilize the bunt enough. This is a personal preference, but we are of the school that a team only gets 3 outs per inning, why waste one. That doesn’t mean Maddon should never bunt. Just be selective. [Tampa Bay Sports Blog]
- Poor Raymond. Comes in at #4, on the Maxim list of “5 MLB Mascots That Deserve a Groin-Punching”. [Maxim]
- DRays Bay counters a couple of claims by Protect Our Wallets and our Waterfront (POWW), who oppose the new waterfront stadium. [DRays Bay]