THE GOOD: The 7th inning. Gary Glover was ginormous in the 7th with a man on second with no outs and Manny Being Manny up in a 4-1 game. There is a very big difference psychologically, between a 3-run lead and a 4-run lead. After working the count full on Ramirez, Glover got Manny to fly out to Gomes in right. He then got Mike Lowell to pop up to Carlos Pena who had to reach over the dugout railing. After an intentional walk, Jason Varitek went down on 3 pitches setting up the bottom of the 7th…In the bottom of the 7th Jason Bartlett did what he needed to do leading off the inning. The biggest reason Bartlett bats 9th is so Joe Maddon has 2 “leadoff” hitters in front off the heart of the lineup. Bartlett hit a double to right and got the rally started. And then in a very risky move, Bartlett stole third after getting a walking jump off second. Akinori Iwamura then beat the pitcher to the bag on a ground ball to first to score the first run of the 7th, and the Rally was on. The first 6 batters of the inning reached base. The big blow was a bases loaded 2-run double by Evan Longoria, of course (is it too early to start MVP chants at the Trop?)…The Top of the 9th saw several close calls. A great running grab by BJ Upton facing the wall in center field. A line drive by Jason Varitek that went just foul and then Dioner Navarro throwing out the tying run trying to steal second base. One of the more bone-headed base running plays we have seen in a while.
THE BAD: The Rays just swept the Boston Red Sox and now lead the AL East by 3.5 games. We repeat the Rays lead the AL East by 3.5 games with the best record in baseball. We dare you to try and come up with something bad.
THE TELLING: The Rays magic number to clinch a spot for the playoffs is 73 (3.5 lead over BOS, who has a 2-game lead in the Wild Card over MIN)
DEVIL RAYS WEBTOPIA…
- Mitch Talbot replaced Troy Percival on the roster when the closer went on the DL but Talbot is not expected to see much, in any playing time as he will be the Rays emergency relief pitcher. [Tampa Tribune]
- Since 1995, only one team had the best record in baseball on July 1 and failed to make the playoffs. That was the ’06 Red Sox. [Sully Baseball]
- Outs Per Swing offers their take on the recent rumors of the Rays interest in Rockies’ closer Brian Fuentes. [Outs Per Swing]
- Outs Per Swing also wonders if Freddy Garcia is a better option for the Rays than CC Sabathia. [Outs Per Swing]
- Earlier this week, we wrote that we thought Dioner Navarro was the Rays first-half MVP…Rays The Stakes counters with JP Howell. Their argument is solid, but we just can’t bring ourselves to give out an MVP honor to a middle reliever. [Rays the Stakes]
- “10 reasons to hate the Red Sox”…We hate the Sox and their Pink Hat nation, but this article is a bit of a stretch as you can tell Tom Jones had a little trouble coming up with 10 reasons. In fact, the various stretches needed to be made actually had us defending the Sox as we read it and that is something we never want to do. [St. Pete Times]
- Newsday comes up with “Top 10 reasons the Rays are for real.” [Newsday]
- David Ortiz says the Yankees are still the team to beat for the AL East title…That is fine by us and should be great news for the Rays players. We much prefer that the Rays keep flying under the radar. [Boston Herald]
- We love all the fans jumping on the Rays bandwagon, but this is one “fan” we are happy not to have. He is a Mets fan looking for a “secondary” team. He bashes the new surge in fans at the Trop and yet he is the one bailing on his team looking for a new team to root for. And of course he fails to realize that 90% of all fans become fans of teams when that team is good. We are willing to bet that this guy is in his mid- to late-20s meaning he was in his formative years when the Mets were the best team in the NL and the best team in NYC. It is Mets “fans” that actually booed Johan Santana on opening day in his first start for the Mets. And it was Mets “fans” that will regularly boo Carlos Delgado early in a game and then give him a standing ovation later in the game when he hits a home run. And then they wonder why he won’t come out for a curtain call. We are so glad to not be in the NL East. Mets fans make Red Sox fans look classy and that is not an easy thing to do. [200 Miles From the Citi]
- It used to be the worst day of his life, but now Scott Kazmir calls his trade from the Mets “a blessing”. [NY Daily News]