THE GOOD: There is a video on YouTube in which Dwayne Staats compares Evan Longoria defensively, to Mike Schmidt, who won 10 gloves. But we wonder if Schmidt ever made a play to win a game the way Dirtbag did last night. Playing deep, with the tying run on third, Reed Johnson tried to bunt his way on first pushing the ball just to the left of the mound. Longoria ran in, barehanded the ball and made an off-balance throw to first base that was scooped on one bounce by Willy Aybar. Game over…What a top if the 9th. What a great catch heading face first into the wall, by Justin Ruggiano in left field for the first out. That out was just the first play that may have saved the game. Later on was not the best time in the world for Dioner Navarro’s second passed ball of the season as it lead to a run to make it 3-2, but another passed ball took a Rays bounce off the backstop to hold the runner at third and saved the lead…Scott Kazmir did not allow a hit until 1 out in the 5th inning, despite not having his best stuff…The Rays are lucky that the Rays tank beyond the right-center field wall is shatterproof as Evan Longoria’s solo home run to lead off the 6th went off the side glass…With 2 outs in the top of the 7th and a runner on second, Dioner Navarro threw out Reed Johnson trying to steal third. It even looked like Johnson got a bit of a shuffling lead before the pitch and he was still thrown out to end the inning…In the bottom of the 7th, a ground ball that would have been a single up the middle hits the pitching rubber and jumps straight up in the air. The pitcher tried to field the ball and throw to first. Aki was safe by a mile, but the throw went into the right field corner and Aki was on third to lead off the inning. Aki would later score what ultimately would be the decisive run.
THE BAD: Scott Kazmir may have not allowed a hit until 1 out in the 5th, but he would only record 1 more out after that, as he was pulled with 2 outs in the 5th. Yes the bullpen is better, but the Rays cannot afford too many nights with the bullpen having to throw 4+ innings…BJ Upton’s stolen base to end the first inning wasn’t bad on paper. With 2 outs, he has to try and get into scoring position. But for Upton to be thrown out by 10 feet was pretty bad…Bases loaded in the 3rd with only 1 out. A dribbler in the mound by BJ Upton led to a force at the plate followed by a strikeout by Eric Hinske and the Rays couldn’t score…In the 7th, the Rays had 5 batters reach base and only scored 1 run including the second runner thrown out at home in the game.
THE TELLING: The attendance for last night’s game was 31,607. We are just guessing, but that seems like it would be a record for a non-home opener, non-Red Sox, non-Yankees, weekday contest…Carl Crawford will be back on the field tomorrow night after completing his suspension. Aki Iwamura and Edwin Jackson have both appealed their suspensions. Jackson will make his next start on Saturday…
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]
- With Andy Sonnanstine and Carlos Zambrano on the hill tonight, there will only be one batter in either lineup that has faced the opposing pitcher. Carl Crawford faced Zambrano and struck out in the ’04 All-Star game. [MLB]
- Carlos Pena expects to be back in the lineup on the next roadtrip. [Tampa Tribune]
- A Cubs blog takes some shots at Joe Maddon for his love of wine and Dr. Seuss, and uses these as examples as to why it is easier to manage in the AL…True story: We once had an Ecology class in college in which all the lessons were based on either Dr. Seuss or Monty Python. Best. Class. Ever. [The Ted Lilly Fan Club]
- Rays the Stakes makes a strong case for Aki Iwamura to make the All-Star squad. [Rays the Stakes]
- Maybe they should…But they won’t. [DevilRays Locker]
- Badsnap makes a strong, in depth case for Ken Griffey Jr coming to the Rays. [BADSNAP]
- According to Vegas oddsmakesrs, the Rays are now the 6th favorite to win the AL, behind Boston, LA, New York, Chicago and Cleveland. [LA Times]
*If we ever have one