THE GOOD: Little Ball and Long Ball. The Rays are not big on “Little Ball”, but it sure helped in the 6th inning. An infield single by Ben Zobrist (OK, it went to the OF, but it bounced over Scott Rolen’s head), a bunt single by Aki Iwamura, a dribbler down the line by Carl Crawford (it was fair no matter what the Jays announcers said), was followed by a Carlos Pena bloop single to score the first run of the game. Of course, funny thing about silly “Little Ball”. That only gets you one run. One out later, Evan Longoria connected on the 10th pitch of his at bat for his first career grand slam. Game Over.
THE BAD: Bean Balls. With 2 outs in the 6th inning, and up 5-0, Dioner Navarro bunted for a basehit. Roy Halladay then tried to hit Ben Zobrist. Two innings later, Navi would be hit by a pitch. Since when is a 5-0 lead in the AL an “insurmountable lead” in which a team should no longer try to score? That was BS by Halladay and even more BS that they would still be fuming 2 innings later. The Jays announcers talked about how “you just don’t [bunt] in that situation”. This peeves us to no end. As a longtime proponent of the “unwritten rules” the one “unwritten rule” that is idiotic is the “no bunting with a big lead” rule. In the 70s a 5-run lead might have been insurmountable, but how many 5-run leads did the Rays blow last year? If the Jays think that a 5-run lead is “too big” for bunting then we suggest they stop throwing breaking balls and go take an effin’ shower. The Rays better sweep these bitches. And if Sunday’s game is a blow out in the 7th inning or later, a Blue Jay is going down and they are going down hard…Anything produced by the Blue Jays. Whether it is the in-inning commercials (no shit, they actually show commercials during an inning) or the runner in the 9th inning that went from first to third and then was apparently thinking about “tagging up” and going home on the same play. You can tag up on a basehit? Seriously? We can’t make this shit up.
THE TELLING: Of the players in the top 15 in baseball in stolen bases, only Alex Rios (14) has hit into more double plays than either BJ Upton (10) or Carl Crawford (9)…Despite assertations by several websites this week that BJ Upton was not struggling, Joe Maddon moved BJ Upton down to the #7 spot in the order…What? The national media doesn’t notice that the Rays once again have a 1.5 game lead in the Easy despite a 7-game losing streak? Of course not. So much for those, “Rays are coming back down to Earth” stories from last week.
DEVIL RAYS WEBTOPIA…
- Joe Maddon was also a little upset about Dioner Navarro being hit by a pitch in the 8th inning. [St. Pete Times]
Maddon said. “Maybe in 1922, you wouldn’t (bunt) because nobody is going to hit a home run. But in the year 2008, people hit home runs. And you could see how they came back. Once again, in baseball, for me, there are moments when people definitely mentally move at a glacier pace, and they really have to get beyond it. That’s what I think about that situation. And it stunk.”
- We are not really sure what this writer is talking about. Les Levine is critical of those that blame Terry Francona for using Scott Kazmir in the All-Star game. In fact, we don’t recall anybody blaming Francona. We said that Francona and the Red Sox benefitted, but we also understand he had to use Kid K. And the Rays actually praised Francona…This is just another example of a writer in the mainstream media trying to invent a controversy. [News-Herald]
- Man, Yankees fans hate Seth McClung more than we do. [The Big Lead]
- Jon Heyman says the Rays have not talked to Oakland about Houston Street although he suggests the Rays would have a good shot at landing the A’s closer. [SI.com]
- We proposed the question a couple of days ago, now Joe Maddon is emphasizing the point…Grant Balfour is closer material. [MLB]
“He’s got that kind of stuff,” Maddon said. “And the biggest thing to me is the makeup. The closer makeup — it’s different. Those last three outs of the game are different. People can argue as much as they want, but they are. And the last out of the game is always the most difficult. … I think, from my perspective, [Balfour is] growing into that makeup where he could do that one day. Definitely his stuff is good enough.”