THE GOOD: Getting on base in the bottom of the 7th inning. The inning started with 2 walks and a hit-by-pitch. Another HBP with Aki Iwamura at the plate drove in a run. That was followed by Carl Crawford’s second career grand slam, making it 6-3 and effectively killing the rally. Stupid home runs. That is, except it didn’t. These are the Rays and they are magilicious. BJ Upton followed with a triple and then an Eric Hinske double scored another run. Hinske stole third and scored on an Evan Longoria sac fly to make it 7 runs in the 7th…The bullpen got the last 8 outs of the game without allowing a run and without the availablity of Troy Percival and JP Howell, the Rays two most important relief pitchers.
THE BAD: Carl Crawford was thrown out trying to steal by 10 feet to end the 1st inning. This seems to be happening a lot with CC and BJ Upton…The Rays had first and third with only 1 out in the 5th and were unable to score…James Shields uncharacteristically broke down in the 7th inning after cruising for the first 6 innings. Shields does not usually give up leads late in the game. But 2 doubles and a walk led to 3 runs scoring in the inning and the Rays falling behind 3-1…Will somebody please tell Joe Magrane to stick to baseball and leave the jokes and the math AND especially the jokes about math to others. When talking about Hall of Fame pitcher Mordecai “Three Finger” Brown, Magrane “joked” that by reason, Antonio Alfonseca (who has 6 fingers on his pitching hand) should be “50% better” than Brown. Of course, 6 is 100% more than 3, not 50%. You could just feel Dwayne Staats tense up in awkwardness.
THE TELLING: Evan Longoria got his first career start at shortstop after Jason Bartlett fouled a ball off his foot in batting practice and had to be scratched from the lineup…The Rays lead in the wild card is now 3.5 games. Unfortunately, it is no longer the A’s that the Rays are looking down at. It is the Yankees. Look for this to be the race for the rest of the year. Three team for two spots…This was the 9th straight home series win for the Rays after starting 1-3. On the road they are 4-4-3…The attendance last night was 34,441 and they averaged 32,515 for the 3-game set. We will let somebody else do the legwork, but we are going to assume that this is a record for a non-Yankees, non-Red Sox 3-game series…
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]
- Didn’t mention this earlier in the first post of the day, but Tim Beckham’s signing bonus is a record for a drafted player. [The Heater]
- Matt Garza met with a well-known baseball psychologist at the request of Joe Maddon. [Tampa Tribune]
- Outs Per Swing has visual evidence that the Rays have been squeezed in the strike zone on several occasions. [Outs Per Swing]
- In this breakdown of the Rays-Cubs matchup, Baseball Prospectus shows that defensively Evan Longoria has already been worth one win over a replacement-level player, while Dioner Navarro’s defensive have improved drastically into one of the better defensive catchers in the game. Also, Jason Bartlett actually has a below average range factor this season. Certainly his throwing problems early in the season plays a factor, but reader Scott brings up a good point. Might a gold glove-caliber third baseman and/or second baseman lower the range factor of a shortstop by getting to balls that Bartlett would have otherwise reached? We have to wonder if that would be particularly meaningful on balls hit in the hole betwen second and third where the third baseman kinda has “first dibs” being closer to the plate. [Baseball Prospectus]
- John Romano breaks down why the Rays can no longer be considered a fluke. [St. Pete Times]
- One blog breaks down the 3-team race in the AL East by looking a little closer at each of the contenders. [No Regard]
- Bugs and Cranks is not at all pleased with Edwin Jackson’s taste in…movies? [Bugs and Cranks]
- The above link is in reference to an SI.com piece in which baseball players are quized on pop culture. [SI]
- Bud Selig did not dance around his feelings about the Trop and the Rays need for a new stadium. [Ballpark Frankness]
- Ken Rosenthal says that the Rays are one of several teams to express interest in Freddy Garcia who is a free agent and recovering from shoulder surgery…We have no doubt that the Rays are interested, but if a “bidding war” begins, as Rosenthal predicts, that is when their interest will cease. [Fox Sports]