THE GOOD: Carlos Pena’s solo home run with 1 out in the bottom of the 9th inning to tie the game. Could this be the moment that gets El Gato back on track? Prior to that at bat, Pena had left 2 runners on in the 1st inning, 3 in the 2nd, 1 runner in the 4th and 2 more in the 6th.
THE BAD: Evan Longoria and Dan Wheeler in the 10th inning. You absolutely cannot lose that game. You are at home, going for a sweep against an inferior ball club and Carlos Pena had just bailed you out in the bottom of the 9th. You have to shut the Royals down in the 10th and give your team a shot to win. Longoria put Wheeler in a jam right off the bat with a throwing error that left the leadoff runner on 2nd and Wheeler gave up a 3-run home run to a guy who only had 3 coming into the game. This is one of those games that if the Rays miss the playoffs by a game or 2, we will look back and cringe.
THE TELLING: In order to give BJ Upton a day off, Joe Maddon penciled Carl Crawford into center field and CC was not happy about it…Reid Brignac did not play and is 0-4 with a walk and 3 strikeouts in his brief major league career…Remember that “reasonable goal” of a .500 season (81 wins)? The Rays need to go 27-47 over the remainder of the season in order to surpass that mark…Even though Boston has a 1.5 game lead in the Wild Card, the Rays magic number over the second place Twins is also 69 (for a playoff spot) as both the Twinkies and Red Sox have the same number of losses.
DEVIL RAYS WEBTOPIA…
- We are back, if ever so briefly. On Thursday Mrs. Prof (no longer just figuratively) and I will be on our way to the Islands for a week. There will be updates while we are gone, although we are still working on the exact details. More to come in the next day or two.
- The Rays have a 77.8% chance of making the playoffs this season. [The Heater]
- Al Reyes threw a simluated game and says he is ready to come off the DL. [Herald-Tribune]
- Dioner Navarro and Scott Kazmir were named to the AL All-Star squad and Dan Shanoff says the Rays got screwed by politics. [The Sporting News]
- Evan Longoria still has a shot to be named to the final spot on the AL roster, and is currently leading the voting. [The Heater]
- John Romano says that Joe Maddon should have been named an all-star coach. [St. Pete Times]
- Marc Lancaster says the Rays are more likely to make a small move before the trade deadline, rather than go after some of the big names that are being tossed around right now…We agree. As we have stated before, our prediction is Eric Hinske for a utility infielder that is an upgrade over Ben Zobrist and possibly a relief pitcher to add to the bullpen depth. [Tampa Tribune]
- The Rays appear to have interest in Brian Fuentes. Of course the Rockies want Wade Davis or Jeremy Hellickson. That doesn’t mean they will get one of those top pitching prospects. [The Heater]
- Bill Madden says that with the Rays on top of the AL East, the Yankees and Red Sox lack the “spark” from years past. [NY Daily News]
- The New York Daily News says the Rays are the new “beasts of the AL East.” [NY Daily News]
- Richard Justice says that the Rays could be even better in the second half…While there is definitely room for improvement, it will be difficult to keep up this torrid pace of wins especially with more games on the road in the second half. [Yahoo! Sports]
- Now that the Rays are on the lips of media outlets everywhere some are offended that the Rays are often referred to as the “Tampa Rays”. [St. Pete Times]
- The Rays surpassed 1 million in attendance in their 48th game this season. That is second fastest in franchise history, out-paced only by the inaugural season. [Tampa Tribune]
- A writer for the Aspen Times says the Rays are “not yet” this year’s Rockies (upstart World Series participant)…He is right. While the Rays may not make it to the World Series, this Rays squad is much better than the Rockies squad that got hot late and ran through a weak NL playoff field. [Aspen Times]
- Marc Topkin lays out 5 keys to the Rays playoff hopes. [St. Pete Times]
- Former Rays prospect Wes Bankston hit his first major league home run for the A’s. [MLB]
- Former Rays GM Chuck LaMar would like to take credit for the Rays success. We don’t have the energy to give this it’s proper beatdown. [The Heater]