THE GOOD: Andrew Friedman. Every single move this guy has made in the last year has been pure gold. Even the moves he did not make. There were lots of rumors this off-season of trading Edwin Jackson. In particular, the hope was to get a catcher back in return. Instead, Friedman stuck with Jackson and Dioner Navarro. The non-move may have been the best move of all…Edwin Jackson. His shutout streak now sits at 15 innings. In his last 2 starts: 15 ip, 11 hits, 2 walks, 8 strike outs, 0 runs. Only 2 walks?!? Seriously. If we hadn’t seen it, we wouldn’t believe it. He also seemed to get better late in the game. The 6th inning may have been the best pitched inning of Jackson’s career. With the Yankees top of the lineup up, he got Jonny Damon to ground out. That was followed by a misplay by Eric Hinske in right that turned a single into a triple for Der-ek Jet-er *clap-clap, clap-clap-clap*. With a runner on third and 1 out in a 1-run game, Nuke got Bobby Abreu to ground out to the drawn-in Jason Bartlett and then got Hideki Matsui to pop-up to end the inning. Then in the 7th, the last batter he faced was Shirley Duncan. After 5 straight non-fastballs, he came back with his hardest fastball of the night at 97 to get Duncan looking…Anytime a team gets to Mariano Rivera it is a ‘Good’, but the double play enduced by JP Howell to end the top of the 11th may have saved the game.
THE BAD: Eric Hinske turning a single into a triple in the 6th inning of a 1-run game. That is not the sort of thing Joe Maddon wasnt to see with Gabe Gross sitting on the bench. In fact, Gross replaced Hinske an inning later…Troy Percival owes Edwin Jackson a steak or two. That is the second straight outing in which Jackson did not allow a run and Percival blew the save.
THE TELLING: Edwin Jackson was not throwing as hard as usual. Normally, Jackson’s fastball sits 91-95 with the ability to crank it up to 97-98. Last night, his fastball was regularly 88-90. This happens to pitchers occasionally, but with Jackson, it appeared to be deliberate. This could be yet another golden move by pitching coach Jim Hickey, to get Jackson to ease up on the fastball a bit for the sake of location…Eric Hinske got the start in right field instead of Gabe Gross, against the right-handed pitcher. Of course, that might not happen again after the 6th inning blunder.
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! Bored at work? VOTE OR DIE! [MLB All-Star Voting]
- This is the typical reaction of a Yankees fan: “Matt Garza is not as impressive as he seemed”. In other words. It is impossible for a Yankees fan to conceive of a universe in which other teams beat the Yankees. Rather the only logical explanation is that the Yankees lost. We guarantee that this is a Yankees fan that is less than 30 years old and clearly does not remember a time when the Yankees used to lose on a regular basis and were considered one of the laughingstocks of baseball. When New York City was actually a Mets town…Winning is NOT a birthright. [Yankee Rage]
- Even the New York Times gets in on the fun: “Taking advantage of slumping Yanks…” because apparently the Rays can’t beat the Yankees unless they are slumping. Like we said before this series, the Rays are probably going to have to sweep the Yanks to get their attention. [New York Times]
- One blogger thinks the Rays’ celebration was over-the-top…Another Yankees fan we presume. If this was a Rays team that was 8 games back and they were playing the Royals, then we might tend to agree, but to criticize a young team for enjoying the game of baseball is ridiculous. And in a division where every game could be the difference between the playoffs and an early vacation, then beating the Yankees and Mo Rivera in the 11th inning with a walk-off win, is plenty worth celebrating. [The Sports Hernia]
- Baseball Analysts takes a closer look at the numbers and comes to the conclusion that the Rays are for real. [Baseball Analysts]
- The Big Lead tried to tackle the question of whether or not it matters the size of a team’s payroll…We have said this before. A team can win with a low payroll, but the room for error is less. If the Yankees lose a $14MM player, they go get another one. If the Rays lose one of their top paid players, they fill the hole with Nathan Haynes or JK Ryu. [The Big Lead]
- Let’s not get too excited about the report that Rocco Baldelli took batting practice. 1) He took BP off of Aki Iwamura’s interpreter; 2) This is not new, he has taken batting practice several times since being shut down; 3) Everything Rocco said about new tests and results just sounds like doctors trying to keep their patient optimistic; 4) the last statement may be the most telling: “I’m hoping that some of the medications that I’m taking are going to help me get on the field for an extended period of time without having the problems that I had. That’s kind of the next step, is just trying new things and experimenting. It’s like trial and error, and hopefully one of them works.”The key words are “hoping”, “trial and error” and “hopefully”. [Rays Report]
- It is hidden behind the “Insider” wall but Buster Olney praises the work of Andrew Friedman and co. He goes on to list 12 moves that the Rays have made in the past year that have turned golden. [ESPN]
[I]n the last year, Rays general manager Andrew Friedman and the Tampa Bay baseball operations staff has pitched the front office version of a perfect game, in keeping with a long-range plan that was begun long before that. Virtually every transaction that the Rays have made, going back to last year’s June draft, has worked out, and contributed to Tampa Bay’s strong start and ascension, for the first time, into the ranks of contenders.
- David Chalk has some choice words for the Rays’ PR Department. [Bugs & Cranks]