THE GOOD: Good game for Akinori Iwamura offensively. In the 3rd, Aki had an RBI single, but more impotantly, with 2 outs, he advanced to second base on Carl Crawford’s sac fly. That allowed Aki to score on BJ Upton’s single…Jason Bartlett made two amazing plays in the field. The first came in the 5th when he charged and barehanded a slow grounder to get the runner. Later in the 8th in a 1-run game, he ranged deep into the hole to his right, stabbed a grounder, turned and made a strong one-hop throw to Carlos Pena. Make no mistake, that one-hop throw was as intentional play that shortstops often make on artificial turf, the same stuff Bartlett played on in Minnesota…Eric Hinske hit a lonnngggg home run. We pedicted two. One to go……Despite his struggles at the plate, Evan Longoria is still playing solid defense making a couple of good plays including the start of a very important double play. With 1 run in already and the Rays up by 1 in the 6th, the Jays had 1st and 2nd with 1 out. Dirtbag started a 5-4-3 to kill the rally.

THE BAD: We complained about the Toronto broadcast in the Orlando series and things were only worse this time. In the bottom of the third, the Jays scored on a close play at the plate. We are still yet to see a good replay or one that slowed the play down enough to get a good look. In the bottom of the 6th, Akinori Iwamura made a great play up the middle and made a good throw. Once again, we failed to get a good replay or one slow enough to see if the runner was indeed safe…The Rays struggled early on with 5 of the first 6 batters going down on strikes…In the 2nd inning, we saw our first incident in which Aki Iwamura looked lost at second base. With a runner on first, Aki fielded a ground ball only a few steps from the bag. He should have stepped on the bag himself, but instead tried to glove-flip the ball to Jason Bartlett. It worked, but it was awkward and eliminated a chance at turning two…Aki Iwamura also made a terrible baserunning play. On an RBI double in the 5th, he hesitated out of the box and then hesitated at second base and got thrown out at third for the first out, breaking a golden rule in baseball, never make the first out at third base…The Rays rarely sacrifice, but Joe Maddon tried in the 3rd with men on 1st and 2nd with no out. But Jason Bartlett failed to get the bunt down in fair territory…Evan Longoria is 2-19 and looks lost at times…Carlos Pena had the golden sombrero (4 Ks)…In the 9th inning, Carl Crawford swung at a pitch that almost hit his back leg. With 2 strikes that is almost acceptable. But not with 1 strike.

THE TELLING: What we love the most about the 2008 Tampa Bay Rays are wins like last night. The game was close, but there was little or no drama after the 6th inning. That has never happened before. If this game was in 2007, the Rays might have won, but not until after they blew the lead, and fought back, or at the very least, loaded the bases in the 8th and 9th innings…Joe Maddon went with Dan Wheeler for 2 innings again. We have to assume that he will not be available tonight…Troy Percival now has 7 saves, and 4 have come against the Jays…The Rays are now 7-8 on the road and 10-7 at the Trop…

DEVIL RAYS WEBTOPIA

  • Injury updates from Marc Lancaster: Cliff Floyd and Ben Zobrist played in extended spring training games yesterday. Zobrist may join Vero Beach as early as tomorrow and play there the rest of the week. He will have the pins removed from his thumb next Monday and he could join the Rays on Tuesday. Floyd could also return about that time. Al Reyes could also return as early as next week and Gary Glover could be back as early as this weekend. [Rays Report]
  • Interesting read from ESPN.com as they take a look at exactly how each member of the Rays’ 25-man roster was acquired and who was responsible for the acquisition. The point being that despite all Chuck LaMar’s failures, he deserves credit for a number of the players that have helped the Rays turn the corner…He may deserve credit, but he is not getting any from us out of pure stubborness. [ESPN]
  • Scott Kazmir will work on ironing out his mechanics in his bullpen session today. [Tampa Tribune]
  • Eric Hinske was booed continually last night and Joe Maddon can’t figure out why. [MLB]

“What’s going on with the booing,” said Maddon, with a huge smile. “One of the nicest guys in the history of the United States and he gets booed in Canada. What’s going on?…Don’t boo Eric Hinske,” he said. “He’s a great guy. I thought, what did he do? Maybe skip town with a couple parking tickets? I don’t know. And he gets booed. He’s a wonderful young man. One of the finest.”

  • Carlos Pena is the inaugural member of the “LBS Golden Sombrero Club”. That’s not a good thing. [Larry Brown Sports]
  • Evan Longoria is third after 5 weeks in the Baseball Happenings AL Rookie of the Year poll. [Baseball Happenings]
  • We are a little lost on this one, as we have no idea who Paul DiMeo is, but we do see the similarity. [Hugging Harold Reynolds]
  • Marc Topkin tosses a few names around if Andrew Friedman decides to keep playing musical chairs in the outfield…Jacque Jones does nothing for us, but then again, we still aren’t sure why Nathan Haynes is a Ray. [The Heater]
  • Andrew Friedman says that the Rays have narrowed their choice for the top pick in the draft to five players and signability may be a factor as Friedman says that they may try to sign a player prior to the draft. [MLB]
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14 Comments

  1. Kyle says:

    Kind of interesting (and Maddoning) how Maddon makes no mention of Aybar's impending return as well, isn't it? Needs to make sure Benny Boo Boo gets a chance to fail, while the guy who put up a .292/.370/.500 line for us through the first 7 games of the season gets the shaft. Seems fair to me.

    Also, why wouldn't Bartlett lay down the sacrifice down 0-1 as well? It all worked out anyway that inning so I won't gripe about that too much....i guess.

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  2. The Professor says:

    Aybar seems like a mystery at this point. at the time his hamstring issues seemed minor as they were even hesitant to put him on the DL. but now it has been a month.

    and i hesitated even bringing up the bunt, bc as you said it ended up fine, but it worries me a bit about attempts in the future. this is a team that doesnt bunt very often. which may make it more difficult when it is needed. and that might be why Maddon called it off.

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  3. Tommy says:

    Remember when Maddon said Longoria struggled with the breaking ball? Maybe he was right.

    Don't forget Aki just holding the ball on the Overbay double off the wall. He could have made a play at home and maybe gotten the out.

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  4. kyle says:

    Aki took a mental vacation 3 times in that game.....in fact there were A LOT of things that went against us in this game and we still won! That's the huge difference from previous years.

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  5. The Professor says:

    you are right about the mental breakdowns and still winning.

    as for the Aki throw home. i hesitate to put all the blame on Aki for that. Keep in mind his back is to the plate until he receives the throw. it is somebody else's job to let him know where the ball is going. little league, high school and college, that is the catcher. might be somebody else in the majors with the crowd noise. somebody closer. either way, somebody needs to make it clear that the throw needs to go home so Aki doesn't hesitate.

    and actually in the third on the close play at the plate, Aki made a picture-perfect relay to the plate that made the play as close as it was. i mean it was perfect. he was already beginning his hop and turn when he was receiving the throw.

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  6. Michael says:

    I also don't blame Aki for the non-throw to home. As Staats and Magrane mentioned on the Rays telecast, Bartlett was supposed to be the cut-off man on the play but B.J. sailed the relay way over his head. Aki was backing up and it came to him on weird short hop, so he wasn't really in that great of a position to throw.

    And apparently it doesn't really matter if the Rays throw a guy out at home or not because the umps still won't give them the call.

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  7. The Professor says:

    did the Rays broadcast give a good replay on that call?

    as i said the Jays broadcast did not.

    and watching it live I have ZERO idea how he was safe. the tag appeared to beat him and he did not do anything to avoid the tag.

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  8. kyle says:

    hell yes.....they replayed it over and over again, while Staats and Magrane were just besides themselves.

    He was out.....no question about it. and again, the ump was right on top of the play. this is really starting to get ridiculous.

    all i know is that we better get every damn call through the months of august and september.

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  9. Tommy says:

    The Rays telecast showed the plate at the plate numerous times. He was clearly out and what makes it worse is the umpire was in perfect position to see the play. The tag was clearly appied before the hand touched the place.

    Also on the close play by Aki it appeared also on the numerous replays that the throw beat the runner.

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  10. The Professor says:

    on the play at the plate i kinda had a feeling as they only looked at it twice and only barely slowed it down and the announcers were like "oh, that was close". then the truck never showed it again. i now assume they knew what was up and decided not to offend the delicate sensibilities of the home fanbase.

    as for the umpires a couple of thoughts:
    1. i can forgive the play at first. that is bang-bang. but on the play at the plate, the throw and tag beats the arm so his first assumption should be 'out'.
    2. sometimes things happen and the umpire gets caught out of position. sometimes its their own fault, sometimes not. but neither was the case here. clearly in perfect position.
    3. if the runner did something tricky with the slide i could see being fooled into a 'safe' call, but the runner slid straight.
    4. and having just watched the replay in my own super-slo-mo, you might forgive the umpire if the tag is up the arm or at the shoulder. at that point it is a little difficult to tell which occurred first. but the tag was clearly on the wrist.

    finally. def not Aki's fault on the second. just watched that one again and you can see Bartlett start to jump for the ball before realizing it is way over his head.

    and again, the Toronto TV crew never even showed the runner crossing home, and never gave an indication that there could have been a play. A-Mazing.

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  11. Sean G says:

    is anybody following this A's/O's matchup on right now? not sure who i should be rooting for.

    Rays trail the A's in the wild card but are only 1.5 up on the O's in the division.

    should i just write off the Os and assume we will finish way ahead of them and start thinking playoffs? am i crazy?

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  12. kyle says:

    yeah...i'm following it. Are the A's for real? I keep expecting their starting pitching to come back to Earth.....but they look very good!

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  13. The Professor says:

    my guess is that Boston is going to run away with the division, so it might be time to start at least peeking at the wild card race.

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  14. Sean G says:

    they seem more "for real" than the O's so maybe they are the bigger concern

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