THE GOOD: Aki Iwamura’s 2-run home run in the 3rd. How did that get out of the park? That looked like a lazy flyball off the bat. In fact, it was Aki’s 200th career home run…The Top of the 8th could very easily fall in the bad category if not for a little help from the Marlins. Down 1 with top of order up. Aki Iwamura did what he had to do. He got on base with a ground ball single through the right side. Willy Aybar then laid down a perfect drag bunt down the third base line that never went foul. Carl Crawford then tried to sacrifice the runners over or tried to drag bunt. Either way, it was a rare site to see CC try to bunt and it went foul. After fighting off several pitches, CC eventually hit a chopper in between first and second that was fielded by the first baseman. Crawford beat the pitcher to the bag to load the bases with no outs with BJ Upton and Evan Longoria due up. This should be 2 runs easy. Two batters later it is still bases loaded, 2 men are out and the Rays failed to score. Good times. But Dioner Navarro saved the day. While Upton swung and grounded into a force out on a questionable 3-1 pitch, Navi held up on a 3-2 pitch that was called ball-4 and the Rays tied the game. And then Eric Hinske followed with another bases loaded walk to take the lead. And that folks is why the Marlins are not long for the penant chase…The defense in the bottom of the 9th. With a 3 run lead and the bases loaded with only 1 out in the 9th, Evan Longoria dove to his left and barely snagged a ball and forced a runner at second. A run scored. But it would have been two with only 1 out and a man on third if Dirtbag doesn’t make that play. Then with the tying run on second and 2 outs, a ground ball between first and second is snagged by Aki Iwamura in shallow right field. He threw to first to end the game.
THE BAD: Andy Sonnanstine needed 102 pitches to get through 5 innings and was pulled early, again. This is the 6th straight start in which Sonnanstine could not finish at least 6 innings…Evan Longoria losing a pop up in the 4th inning and Jason Bartlett not getting there in time to make the play and letting a run score to tie the game at 2. That really should have been Bartlett’s ball all the way…Jorge Cantu hit what should have been a single on a ground ball into left center with a man on first. Only the ball went to the left of Carl Crawford’s glove and then bobbled by BJ Upton. The runner would score the go-ahead run all the way from first base…The Rays won another game in which Troy Percival sucked. This time he actually closed the door despite walking 4 batters in the 9th. Eventually the Rays are going to lose one of these games.
THE TELLING: Andy Sonnanstine sacrificed in the 5th. It is strange to see the Rays attempt a sac bunt. They are currently last in the majors in sac bunts, with 10…Troy Percival has the hardest 89 mph fatball we have ever seen. Is it a slow gun? An optical illusion? We have no idea. But it sure looks to be cooking a lot faster. And the batters seem to agree when he is in the strikezone…The Rays are only scoring 4.53 runs per game. Last year the Rays scored 4.83 runs per game.
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]
- Joe Maddon was none-to-pleased after the game, which is a sign that we are seeing a new Papa Joe. Last year he would have been dishing out sweet-nothings left and right after a game like this. [Rays Report]
- Despite 4 walks, Troy Percival moved into sole possession of 9th place on the all-time saves list. To celebrate Bugs and Cranks gave Percy a new mustache. [Bugs and Cranks]
- The Rays are expected to announce a 2-year delay in their push for a referrendum for a new stadium…The biggest hurdle appears to be the desire by the City Council to explore other locations for a new stadium. [Ballpark Frankness]
- Jason Bartlett will miss the next two games to be with his wife who is expecting. Aki Iwamura is expected to begin serving his suspension on Friday when Bartlett returns…Also, Troy Percival says his hamstring is still bothering him and is the reason he is struggling with his control. [St. Pete Times]
- Ken Rosenthal says that the Rays are one of several teams that are interested in Rockies closer Brian Fuentes, who is a free agent at the end of the year. [Fox Sports]