THE GOOD: The “Good” starts and ends with Matt Garza who pitched a 2-hitter for his second shutout of the season. One night after Joe Maddon was forced to use all 7 of his relief pitchers in an extra-inning contest, it was imperative Garza work deep into the night and he did not disappoint. Garza did not allow a hit until 2 outs in the 6th, when a blooper fell between Justin Ruggiano and Aki Iwamura…We should also point out that every starter had at least 1 hit, and the Rays “weak” offense produced 4 home runs, including number 24 for the red-hot Carlos Pena, who has now homered in 3-straight games and for the 9th time in his last 20 games.
THE BAD: BJ Upton. How angry was Joe Maddon that Upton failed to run hard twice last night? Papa Joe employed the harshest punishment a manager can do to a player. He embarassed him in the middle of the game. Having already decided to remove Upton from the game in the middle of the 6th inning, Maddon let Upton take the field in the bottom-half of the inning. Before Matt Garza was able to throw a pitch, Papa Joe sent Justin Ruggiano out to the field to replace Upton, foricing Upton to make the baseball-equivalent of the “Walk of Shame” back to the dugout.
THE TELLING: Jason Bartlett was back at SS last night for the first time in 12 days…Matt Garza and James Shields each have 2 shutouts which is tied for the major league lead. The Rays’ 4 complete game shutouts is tied with the Dodgers, Milwaukee and Cleveland for the most in baseball. The pitching staff now has 7 complete games and this was the 11th time the team has shutout an opponent. That is second only to the 12 shutouts by the Red Sox and the Indians…The Rays magic number for the playoffs is now 36 over the White Sox/Twins. And the Yankees lost. Again. They should be ashamed of themselves. It is not even September and they are very close to being an afterthought even for the Wild Card.
DEVIL RAYS WEBTOPIA…
- Thank you Marc Lancaster…Finally a local media member stood up and emphatically said Barry Bonds is not going to play for the Rays. Of course it took a telling report from Ken Rosenthal at FoxSports in which Bonds agent says he sent Andrew Friedman a text message asking if the Rays would be interested in Bonds and the message went unanswered. [Rays Report]
- BJ Upton will also be benched on Saturday. Joe Maddon would not talk to Upton on Friday after the game for fear of saying something he would regret…That is a side of Papa Joe we haven’t seen before. [The Heater]
- Troy Percival went on the DL with an injury to the cartilage in his knee. Juan Salas was recalled from Durham. Percival will miss 2-4 weeks. [The Heater]
- Joe Maddon said Grant Balfour will not be the de facto closer, instead choosing to go closer-by-comittee. [St. Pete Times]
- Andrew Friedman says Juan Salas has been prepped in Durham to give the Rays more than 1 inning at times. [MLB]
- The Rays finally signed their 2nd round pick, LHP Kyle Lobstein avoiding the possibility of losing him to the University of Arizona basketball team. Lobstein received a $1.5 million signing bonus. Of the players signed as of yesterday morning, that is the highest bonus given to any player outside of the first round, including supplemental picks between the first and second rounds. The Rays will will wait until next season for Lobstein to make his pro debut…The Rays signed 26 of their top 28 picks. [Rays Report]
- Joe Maddon, a former catcher, spoke with Peter Gammons about what makes a good catcher. [ESPN]
“A well above-average catcher for me would be Mauer,” says Rays manager Joe Maddon, a former catcher and noted catching mentor. “An average catcher would have to have the mental acumen to take charge of your staff and display a caring that can be felt by all the pitchers. Next, he has to have the receiving ability and stamina to play at least five games a week. Throwing, I would like to have at least average arm strength with a quick release and accuracy. He has to block balls well and is fearless on plays at the plate. He should be the best worker on the team, and hitting, I would settle for .250 hitter with around 10 home runs or better.” “We are,” says Maddon, “describing the player who wears ‘the tools of intelligence.’”
- One Red Sox blog feels the Rays are upsetting the natural order of things in the AL East and they are not happy about it. [RedSoxSoul]