THE GOOD: Scott Kazmir. In the first 5 innings, Kazmir only allowed 1 hit. He went 6, giving up 3 hits and 3 walks. He struck out 3…Right off the bat, we get yet another gold glove play by Evan Longoria at third base, diving to his left to rob Jonny Damon of a basehit…We actually are not that big a fan of the shift that Joe Maddon uses on Jason Giambi and David Ortiz. We have seen stats that show that it really doesn’t make a difference, but it did yesterday. With Akinori Iwamura playing rover in shallow right, Giambi lined right to Aki in the 2nd inning. That was a basehit otherwise…Shawn Riggans made the most of his first start in almost 2 weeks. Diesel went 2-3, but the big hit was the 2-run, no-doubt-about-it, home run in the 4th that made the score 4-0.
THE BAD: Scott Kazmir’s fastball. In his first start of the season, Kaz struggled as his fastball topped out at 88-90. In his last start, his confidence seemed to come back as his fastball was back up in the mid-90s. But last night, he was once again topping at 88-90…Scott Kazmir’s pitch count. Once again, Kaz was at 100 pitches after 6 innings and could not come out for the 7th. Some pitchers have personal catchers. Kazmir needs a personal bullpen caddy to get him to the back end of the bullpen…Ben Zobrist was hit by a pitch in his first plate appearance of the season…Later on in that 3rd inning, the Rays would load the bases with no outs but only scored 1 run on a sac fly by Carl Crawford. That situation with the meat of the order up should be at least 2 runs. No excuse…When are the bad calls going to stop? Scott Kazmir had the runner picked off in the 4th inning, but called safe.
THE TELLING: The words “Gary Glover is in to pitch” scares us…Dioner Navarro got the day off for the day-game-after-the-night-game. He had started 9 games in a row…Jason Batlett was a late scratch for “personal reasons”…The Rays are now a full 2 games up in the loss column on the Sox in the East and the A’s and O’s in the Wild Card…
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]
- This past week has been a Rays Love-Fest in the New York Times. “Rays Provide Yanks Glimpse of What Could Be”. Nice. [New York Times]
- The Rays pitched their financing plan for the proposed waterfront stadium to the St. Pete City Council. Aaron Sharockman, who is to the new stadium what Pedro Gomez is to Barry Bonds, outlines the plan. [St. Pete Times]
- DRays Bay has an interview with Aaron Sharockman. [DRays Bay]
- Fangraphs takes a closer look at how much better the Rays bullpen has been in ’08. [Fangraphs]
- One site compares the Rays ’08 numbers to the AL playoff teams of the past two seasons. The pitching ranks near the top of the group but they don’t see the bullpen maintaining their dominance and so far the offense is not playoff-caliber. [Freedom, Glory, America]
- Rob Neyer predicts that the Rays will have BJ Upton signed to a long-term extension by the all-star break. He also, notes that after that, there will be no more excuses for the fans to not support a first-place team with all their young talent locked up. [ESPN]
Really, other than perhaps Matt Garza, the only remaining Ray who’s worth locking up is B.J. Upton. No, he’s probably not as good as his little brother. But he’s 23 and his best years are ahead of him, and he’s going to play in at least a few All-Star games.
Speaking of All-Star games, I’m guessing B.J. Upton’s locked up before this year’s Classic. At which point — assuming the Rays are still playing well — the locals will have no remaining excuse for not showing up to watch their team. At the moment, though, Tampa Bay ranks 13th in the American League in attendance. Not real good for a first-place team that’s locked up nearly all of its good young players.
- Her Rays has a picture of Scott Kazmir that is RI-diculous. [Her Rays]
- Sports Talk makes a comparison that we have screamed about in the past when naysayers say that the Tampa-St. Pete area won’t support baseball. They compare the ’08 Rays to the ’97 Bucs. We vividly remember a time when we would go see the Bucs play the Packers and seeing more Packers fans than Bucs fans. [Sports Talk]