THE GOOD: Evan Longoria made yet another great defensive play in the first inning. These plays seem to happen on a daily basis now and Dirtbag probably should be the favorite to win Rookie of the Year based on his defense alone…After the 5th inning, the Rays trailed 5-4. It could have been worse if not for the arm of Gabe Gross who saved a run by gunning a runner down at the plate…Darren Oliver, the Angels only lefty in the ‘pen was unavailable after pitching 1.2 innings on Saturday. Mike Scioscia could have used him on Sunday. Scioscia pulled Ervin Santana from the game with 2 outs in the 6th inning with the top of the order due up. The next two batters were lefties. Aki Iwamura doubled followed by a Carl Crawford 3-run home run that would be the difference in the game…JP Howell was simply terrific shutting down a very good offensive team for 3 innings, giving up only 1 hit. In particular was getting Vlad the Impaler to end the 7th. He wasn’t a threat at the time with the bases empty and the Angels down 3, but Vlad never looked comfortable during the at bat and that does not happen very often.
THE BAD: This is Andy Sonnanstine. Although it does appear that these versions of Duke are fewer and farther between recently. When he is hittable he is very hittable…Granted the Rays had a 3-run lead at the time, but if a team gets the bases loaded with no outs as they did in the 8th, 1 run should be automatic and a team has to try pretty darned hard not to score at least twice. The Rays did not score.
THE TELLING: A miscommunication play in the 9th between Carl Crawford and Jason Bartlett led to a pop up being dropped and an error charged to CC. That was the first error charged to the Rays since the previous Sunday in Boston…The Rays are starting to get more efficient on the base paths. We haven’t seen a serious branfart in a while and in the last week the Rays are 8-10 (80%) in steal attempts. Prior to this week, the Rays were only 28-42 (67%)…With no runs allowed in the first 2 innings, the Rays had set a record with 24 consecutive scoreless innings from the pitching staff…Cliff Floyd was back in the lineup for the first time in over a month. He had 2 hits and and 2 RBI…The Rays have now swept the Red Sox, the Angels and the Jays at home and now sit at 13-7 at home…Despite playing in a dome, Rain was not kind to the Rays yesterday. The Yankees game in Detroit was postponed. Without the rain, the Rays would have likely faced Kei Igawa and Darrell Rasner in games 3 and 4 of the series. Now the Rays will face Andy Pettite in game 1 with Rasner bumped to game 4 and Igawa will be skipped…Despite being swept in Boston, the Rays have earned at least a little respect from the Sox. They have yet to earn any from the Yankees. And to be honest it would probably take a sweep to get some. But if the Rays can win 3 of 4 we can at least shut them up for a while…Oh yeah, if the season ended today, the Rays would be the American League Wild Card representative.
DEVIL RAYS WEBTOPIA…
- Gary Glover has been activated off the DL and Kurt Birkins has been optioned to Durham…Marc Lancaster also indicates that Ben Zobrist could come off the DL as early as today, with Andy Cannizaro sent back to Durham. If that happens that would leave only Willy Aybar on the 15-day DL. [Rays Report]
- Ben Zobrist is to have the pins removed from his left thumb today and has been told that he will be cleared to play immediately after the procedure. [MLB]
- Troy Percival says that defensively, this is the best team he has ever played with. [MLB]
- Roger Mooney notes that the Rays starting pitchers have grown up and are holding themselves accountable for the first time. Mooney notes that the most impressive feature has been their ability to rebound from bad starts. [Bradenton Herald]
- The St. Pete Times has a new blog dedicated to covering the progress of the Rays’ proposed waterfront stadium. [St. Pete Times]