THE GOOD: Scott Kazmir was able to keep his pitch count in check and worked 7 strong innings. In fact, outside of a 20 pitch 7th inning, Kid K was only at 77 pitches after 6 innings. For comparison, Kazmir was 4th in all baseball last season with 3,609 pitches thrown and led the majors with 17.5 pitches per inning. Entering last night’s start, Kaz was actually worse in ’08 at 18.6 pitches per inning. Yesterday he was at 13.9 and only 12.8 in the first 6 innings…Despite their great start, it seems as if the Rays caught their first huge break of the season last night in the 8th inning. With 2 outs and the bases loaded, Dioner Navarro hit a line drive to left field that Emil Brown lost in the lights. The ball rolled to the wall and 3 runs scored…
THE BAD: Really Jason Bartlett? Really? Picked off first base? Just couldn’t go an entire night without committing at least one mental error on the basepaths, could you? And after all the nice things we have said about your baserunning skills and how you would be a passable leadoff hitter despite your inability to ever take a walk. Thank you. Just, thanks.
THE TELLING: Akinori Iwamura got the night off with Jason Bartlett moving to the leadoff spot and Ben Zobrist getting the start at second base….Thank goodness the Toronto Blue Jays are idiots and thank goodness Frank Thomas no longer plays in the AL East…Speaking of Frank Thomas home runs. We are not worried about Troy Percival, and the runs he has given up recently. We have no problem with a pitcher in a 2-run game just throwing pitches down the middle of the plate in the 9th inning in an effort to let the batter get himself out. All Thomas could do was make it a 1-run game. When he needed to, Percy bore down and got the outs…The Rays have a 2 game lead in the AL Wild Card race.
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]
- Don’t forget…the Rays Index Live Blog-A-Baloo of the week will be held this afternoon during the final game of the Oakland series. Last week we got our feet wet with a new format. Things should go much smoother this week. Be sure to stop by if you are stuck at work or if you rely on the Extra Innings package (today’s game is not on the Extra Innings package). Or just stop by and pepper us with poop jokes.
- The standard Associated Press article about the Rays-A’s game from last night that ran in hundreds of papers today, ran with this headline: “Rays take advantage of error to beat A’s 3-2″. Yes, Emil Brown should have caught the line drove off the bat of Dioner Navarro that scored three runs, but it was ruled a double, not an error. [Associated Press]
- Everybody has been thinking it. For the first time, a person of importance has said it out loud. Steve Raymund, co-chairman of the St. Petersburg Area Chamber of Commerce’s baseball task force, said that if the city of St. Pete does not approve a stadium for the Rays, the Rays will find a new stadium someplace else. [St. Pete Times]
- Typical male…commitment issues. [The Serious Tip]
- We touched on Willy Aybar yesterday in the comments section of the Power Rankings and his role with the Rays when he returns from the DL in the next 7-10 days. Today we have Rick Eymer of MLB.com writing about Aybar. Now, we know Eymer does not write the headlines, but…show of hands: who thinks there is even a remote possibility that Aybar will be in the lineup everyday when he comes off the DL? No? Then do we need the sub-headline, “Injured third baseman may see playing time cut upon return”? (emphasis ours) [MLB]
- Fox Sports says that the Rays are baseball’s most polarizing conversation so far in ’08. They list 5 reasons to believe the Rays are for real and 5 reasons the Rays will fall off the pace…Our feeling is that two or three on each side are true and will cancel each other out, keeping the Rays right on the cusp of the playoffs all season. [Fox Sports]
- Yes it is…Not a concern…Still very, very good. [Tampa Bay Sports Blog]