THE GOOD: Say what you will about Aki Iwamura, but this guy was born to hit in Fenway Park. His first at bat of the game was a typical Aki flyball to left field, only in Fenway that is a leadoff home run. Aki would hit 50 doubles if he played for the Sox. Let’s hope he doesn’t figure that out after his playing days with the Rays ends…Carlos Pena had 10 home runs at the end of May in ’07. He had 10 home runs after May in ’08. He got his first of June last night on a ball that looked like it was off the end of the bat and yet kept going for a 2-run shot that gave the Rays a 4-3 lead in the 6th…Grant Balfour and Gary Glover who may be battling for a roster spot over the next week-plus, both pitched and pitched well. They combined for 2.2 scoreless innings of relief with 1 hit and 1 walk. Balfour did allow one inherited runner to score on a sac fly.
THE BAD: Matt Garza. It is all about command in the strike zone for Garza and last night he did not have it. Of his 96 pitches, only 55 were strikes. And amazingly he only threw 8 first-pitch strikes to the 26 batters he faced (31%). In his last start in which he struck out 10, he was strike-one to 23 of 30 batters (77%). This is especially important against a patient veteran team like the Sox. They are just going to sit back and wait for Garza to throw a strike, knowing there is a good chance he won’t. Of the 26 batters that Garza faced, only 3 swung at the first pitch, and one of those was JD Drew’s 4th inning home run. They were just begging The Garza Complex to get ahead 0-1 and he couldn’t do it.
THE TELLING: With Carl Crawford on the bench, Papa Joe Maddon had Dioner Navarro batting in the 2-hole, and Eric Hinske in left field.
DEVIL RAYS WEBTOPIA…
- This weeks Rays Index Live Blog-A-Baloo will indeed be held tomorrow (Thursday) night. And don’t forget that it is an early 6:05 start time, so be sure to make your beer run early.
- 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]
- Carl Crawford was not in the starting lineup as he flew to Birmingham, AL to visit Dr. James Andrews to have an MRI on his sore hamstring. There was no structural damage, and CC flew back and was used as a pinch-hitter later in the game. [MLB]
- With no David Ortiz in the lineup it would be tempting to just walk Manny Ramirez every at bat. But Joe Maddon says he will wait and see how the rest of the Sox lineup is hitting before making any decisions. [Boston Herald]
- Another power ranking has the Rays rated #1. This one is a bit different in that it is statistically driven, which seems like a good way of revealing the teams that have been lucky or unlucky so far this season. [WhatIfSports]
- Some blogger apparently stopped playing World of Warcraft long enough to comment on the Rays having better odds to win the AL East than the Yankees. [Sports Crackle Pop]
- The Rays just started a rather tough stretch of games. [St. Pete Times]
- Saber Scouting is split on whether the Rays will take Buster Posey or Tim Beckham with the first pick tomorrow. [Saber Scouting]