THE GOOD: Carlos Pena continues his torrid pace, hitting another home run, his 25th and 10th in last 22 games…BJ Upton returned to the lineup and took out his frustrations on the Rangers, hitting a line drive double down the left field line and following later with a home run to right-center. It was only his 2nd HR since the All-Star break. He drove in 3…Winning series. After getting shutout on Saturday by the worst pitching staff in baseball, the Rays bounced back to take the rubber-match. The Rays are now 8-0-1 in series since the All-Star break and have stretched their lead in the East to 5 games in the all-important loss column. Remember, the Rays were a half-game behind the Red Sox at the All-Star break. So, while everybody has been predicting the imminent doom of the Rays, they have actually played 5 games better than the Sox in the last 29 games…Winning on the road. The Rays just finished their longest road trip of the year at 7-3 and are now 11-6 on the road since the All-Star break after finishing the first-half at 19-25 away from the Trop.
THE BAD: Unlike the rest of the league, the Rangers schedule Sunday home games at night, due to the unbearable heat of Texas in the Summer. But ironically, the high yesterday was only 88. But thanks to the scheduling, the Rays likely did not get home until about 5am…The Red Sox are on the road for the next 9 games, but unfortunately, they get the Orioles starting today, while the Rays must take on the best team in the AL.
THE BAT-SHIT CRAZY: Joe Maddon deciding to walk Josh Hamilton with the bases loaded in the 9th inning. It was good because it worked. Dan Wheeler got Marlon Byrd to strike out. It was bad, because it brought the winning run to the plate in the form of a player that had just hit a walk-off grand slam against the Yankees two weeks ago. It was bat-shit crazy, because it was only the second time in 60+ years that a player had been intentionally walked with the bases loaded. Not to mention, for about 0.04 seconds we thought Grant Balfour was going to go kangaroo on Papa Joe when Maddon came out to the mound following the walk.
THE TELLING: Juan Salas looks like he ate Troy Percival…Juan Salas is now the only member of the 2007 opening day bullpen that is still with the organization…BJ Upton was back in the lineup, and batted leadoff with Aki Iwamura getting a day off…Was anybody else worried about the safety of inanimate objects in the clubhouse after Joe Maddon pulled Grant Balfour?…The Rays now have a 96.6% chance of making the playoffs according to Baseball Prospectus, with a 74.0% chance of winning the division…Don’t look now, but the Rays are only 1.5 games behind the Angels for the best record in the AL…The Rays magic number for the playoffs is now 35 with the Red Sox, White Sox and Twins all sharing the same number of losses…
DEVIL RAYS WEBTOPIA…
- We had the honor of writing a “Rest of the Season” preview for the Rays at The Hardball Times…Most of the thoughts have been seen here previously, and it is a bit more long-winded than you guys are used to, but if you ever have a desire to see what Rays Index on amphetamines would look like, head on over. [The Hardball Times]
- So this is what BJ Upton apologists have turned to? They are sitting at home timing Rays batters to first base. We assume they are trying to show that Upton is not the only player that doesn’t hustle. Seriously. We can’t make this shit up. [DRays Bay]
- Troy Percival says his knee is feeling much better and he may not need the arthroscopic surgery originally scheduled. If this is the case, he could be back sooner than previously thought. [MLB]
- Marc Topkin does a nice job of breaking down the Rays and their remaining schedule. [St. Pete Times]
- Rake Blog wonders if the Rays should trade Carl Crawford this off-season, noting that CC may have a perceived value that is much higher than his actual value. [Rake Blog]
- The Rays say that today’s game will be played, but tomorrow’s contest is “in doubt”, due to Tropical Storm Fay. [The Heater]
- Gary Glover has landed a major league job with the Tigers. [Detroit Free-Press]
- The Rays are only the 4th team in MLB history with 5 starters 26 or younger with at least 20 starts. [Bradenton Herald]
- Bill Chuck agrees with us…The Yankees are roadkill. [Fox Sports]