A recap of Friday night’s game can be found at the bottom after the jump…
THE GOOD: The Rays wore the very pleasant-on-the-eyes, throwback uniforms honoring the St. Pete Pelicans of the defunct Senior Professional Baseball League. The Rays went the extra mile and used throwback batting helmets. Most teams just use their regular batting helmets which more often than not clash with the throwback unis…Great grab by BJ Upton to end the 1st inning running towards the wall…A rare triple by Carl Crawford drove in the Rays first run in the 4th inning. It was only his 5th of the season and yet he is tied for the league lead…The first career home run for Justin Ruggiano…Edwin Jackson at times looked like the pitcher we all hope he can become. After giving up a home run and a single in the 4th inning, he retired the next seven batters. And just prior to the home run, he struck out Lance Berkman on what may have been the best slider Jackson has thrown all season…After trying to tie the game with his first swing in the 9th inning, Cliff Floyd did as needed and shortened his swing and took a ball just left of center for a leadoff single. Eric Hinske did the same thing taking a ball to left field for a bloop single. Dioner Navarro was hit on a 2-strike pitch to load the bases. Gabe Gross pinch-hit for Navi and kaplowie! Gross blooped the first pitch down the left line. Floyd and Hinske scored and it is yet another walk-off win for the Rays.
THE BAD: Jason Bartlett is only reinforcing what everybody already knows, that he is the epitome of “warning track power”. For the second straight day Bartlett “muscled” one to the track for an out. A guy as little as Bartlett kinda deserves half a run for the effort…Edwin Jackson in the 7th. With the Rays up 1, Jackson gave up 2 hits and after an intentional walk, he walked in the tying run…Shawn Riggans in the 8th. With the score tied, Riggans drops a third strike and then throws the ball into right field. One batter later, with Berkman on third, a hot grounder to Evan Longoria, who tried to turn two, only Aki Iwamura couldn’t get the throw off to first. The broadcast did not show a replay but Joe Maddon thought that the runner grabbed Aki as he tried to turn the double play.
THE TELLING: The Rays have stretched their wild card lead to 4 games over the A’s.
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]
- The Rays television ratings for the Cubs series were at an all-time high. [Rays Report]
- Joe Maddon made an appearance on “Pardon the Interruption”. [Bugs and Cranks]
- Grant Balfour is making quite the impression on Joe Maddon…Balfour has come a long way since complaining about the pressure of competing for a roster spot in Spring Training. [St. Pete Times]
- Marc Topkin says that it is unlikely that the Rays will place more than one representative in the all-star game. [St. Pete Times]
THE GOOD: The hot girls in the top of the 7th finding away to get on TV with a banner that said “Wanna Sign My Sweet Spot?”. Not really sure how that got on TV…BJ Upton did his first Tiger Woods impersonation, hitting a ball 1 inch off the ground and blooping it into left field for a single. Eric Hinske followed with an RBI single for first run…Matt Garza in the 1st inning and Garza in the 2nd was like night and day. In fact innings 2-4 were as good as we have ever seen Garza…It is only fair the number of times that BJ Upton has been thrown out on the basepaths that he occasionally return the favor. Of course throwing Miguel Tejada out trying to stretch a single into a double would not have been close if Upton had not been lollygagging after he cought the ball, running an extra 4 or 5 steps towards the wall.
THE BAD: Matt Garza should be a strikeout pitcher. He did have a 8 Ks last night but not when he really needed one. With 1 out in the 5th, a run already home and men on first and third, facing Lance Berkman, he went full and ultimately gave up a sac fly to make it 4-1. Garza has to find a way to get a K in that situation. A good strikeout pitcher would…In the 7th BJ Upton lollygagged after another basehit. Carl Crawford had to sprint over and cut it off to try and throw runner out at second. The throw was late.
THE TELLING: Joe Maddon went with Eric Hinske instead of Gabe Gross who was 6-11 lifetime with a home run against Roy Oswalt. Hinske was 2-4 and drove in a pair of runs…Teams that don’t yet have the experience of winning under their belt lose games like this. They sweep a very good team like the Cubs and then at home against a last place team they put up a stinker.