THE GOOD: James Shields outside of the back-to-back home runs in the 2nd inning. After the 2 home runs, he retired 13 of the next 14 batters and faced the minimum over that span. Other than the 2 solo homers, he allowed only 4 hits and 1 run, striking out 7 and walking none, while working into the 9th inning…Ben Zobrist on the day he was to be demoted to Durham, drove in 2 runs, including a solo home run in the 5th that gave the Rays the lead and an RBI single in the 7th which proved to be the game-winner…Jonny Gomes one week before the Rays may trade for his replacement, hit a 2-run home run that got the Rays back in the game in the 5th…Huge double-play by Aki Iwamura in the 7th. With 2 on and no outs, a slow-roller was hit to second. Aki charged hard, scooped the ball and tagged the runner, before throwing to first. It was the only chance to turn two and killed the rally.
THE BAD: Troy Percival got his 20th save but looked shaky in doing it. He walked 1 batter, threw a wild pitch and almost had a second wild pitch if not for a great stop by Shawn Riggans, with a runner on 3rd…BJ Upton got picked off trying to steal 3rd in the 6th inning with 1 out. That was bad by itself, but as Joe Magrane noted after, we were screaming “Balk!” at the TV as the pitcher brought his leg back down, paused, and then spun towards second.
THE TELLING: Joe Maddon called for a sac bunt, and it wasn’t even an interleague game. After Willy Aybar led off the 7th with a double, Shawn Riggans laid down the bunt and moved Aybar to third. Aybar would later score on a Ben Zobrist single. That was only the Rays’ 14th sacrifice this year, which is the fewest in the majors. For comparison, the Rockies lead the majors with 63 and the Rangers lead the AL with 31…The Yankees are now alone in second-place in the Wild Card standings (3 gb), which means it is now a 3-team race for 2 playoff spots in the AL East…
DEVIL RAYS WEBTOPIA…
- In the end, it was Ben Zobrist that was sent packing to Durham with the activation of Jason Bartlett from the DL. That keeps Jonny Gomes as the right-handed hitting…hitter(?)…and Evan Longoria is once again the backup shortstop. [The Heater]
- Rays from across the pond finds irony in demoting Ben Zobrist, who has 5 home runs in the past month, with the offense struggling. [Rays from across the pond]
- This season the trading deadline means something different for the Rays. In the past the Rays would have 2-3 players that they were “selling” for prospects. Now that the Rays are in the other corner, most of the organization is in play and the Rays must decide “at what cost” do they trade for major league help. [St. Pete Times]
- One name that is getting a lot of press in regards to the Rays is Casey Blake, the Indians third baseman…If he comes to the Rays, they will almost certainly convert Blake to the outfield. He was the Indians right fielder in ’05 and ’06 and played 7 games there last season. Blake is hitting .288/.365/.488 for the Indians and will be a free agent at the end of the year. His best season came in 2004 when he hit .271-28-88. [Baseball Prospectus]
- If you are interested in this sort of thing, Marc Lancaster is live-blogging his life today…well, he is live-blogging a day in the life of a traveling baseball beat writer… [Rays Report]