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]