THE GOOD: Andy Sonnanstine. All The Duke does is win, improving to 13-6 on the season. Show of hands: Who thought Sonny would be leading the Rays in wins in the middle of August? Put your damn hands down. Of course, Duke did his best Scott Kazmir impersonation last night, lasting only one out into the 6th inning and needing 104 pitches to get there…Joe Maddon’s use of Trever Miller. Miller was signed to be 1 or 2 batter per game lefty specialist. In his first 52 appearances this season, Miller faced more than 2 batters 26 times. That is not necessarily Papa Joe’s fault. Injuries have forced him to alter his ideal bullpen. But in the last two games, Miller has faced 3 batters, including his 1 out performance last night, coming on getting the all-important leadoff hitter in the 8th inning…With Jason Hammel doing his best job trying to give us a heart attack, Jason Bartlett started a georgeous double-play, going up the middle behind the bag and back-handing the ball to Aki Iwamura who stepped back out of the path of the runner and fired a one-hopper to Carlos Pena who made a slick scoop to end the inning and the threat, preserving a 5-4 lead…Sac Bunts and ignoring signs. The Rays are last in baseball in sac bunts, yet, with a 5-4 lead in the 8th and Justin Ruggiano on first and no outs, Dioner Navarro bunted Ruggy to second. Gabe Gross followed with a single in which Ruggiano ran through Tom Foley’s stop sign to score the Rays’ 6th run and give the Rays a little breathing room.
THE BAD: There was a big difference between BJ Upton’s baserunning gaffe last night and the incidents that led to his benching this past weekend. Upton who hit what should have been an easy double, got caught jogging into an uncovered second base, when Mark Teixeira came from behind to field a throw and tag Upton out. According to Joe Maddon (and we agree), this was “not a lack of effort.” Rather it was “a mental mistake.” That doesn’t make it OK, but does explain why Upton will not be disciplined…Our stress level. Jason Hammel relieved Trever Miller with 1 out and nobody on in the 8th inning with the Rays nursing a 5-4 lead. Hammel walked the first batter and then settled down to retire the next 2 to get out of the inning. But, just seeing Hammel in that situation gives us agida. And he needed the double-play to survive. It has been a while since we needed to take Papa Joe Behind the woodshed, but if Hammel blows that lead…
THE TELLING: With 4 teams still in contention for 3 playoff spots, the Rays now have a 6-game cushion over the 4th team, the Twins. The Rays magic number for the playoffs is 33. The Rays are also now only 1 game back in the loss column behind the Angels for the best record in baseball.
DEVIL RAYS WEBTOPIA…
- As of last night, the Rays are planning on playing tonight’s game, but are obviously monitoring the situation with Tropical Storm Fay very closely. [The Heater]
- Cliff Floyd said that BJ Upton’s baserunning brainfart made “his heart hurt,” and added that Joe Maddon doesn’t need to address the situation because the players will take care of it. [MLB]
“You’ve got a guy who, in my opinion, is going to be different,” Floyd said. “I’m going to put my butt on the line by saying that. I’m going to do everything possible, and I think everybody in here is going to do everything possible to make sure it don’t happen again. It’s not in Joe’s hands anymore. It’s not in anybody else’s hands but ours as players.”
- Troy Percival will not need arthroscopic surgery on his knee. Even without the surgery, he is still scheduled to be out 2-4 weeks. [Rays Report]
- Tony Massarotti of the Boston Herald calls the Red Sox a “mystery”, saying that “suddenly, [the postseason] doesn’t seem so certain,” and that we “don’t know a thing about these Red Sox yet.” [Boston Herald]
- Brittany Ghiroli reports that Evan Longoria is progressing well and is still on schedule to return to the Rays on or around Sept. 1. [MLB]
- Al Reyes has cleared waivers and declined a minor league assignment. He is now a free agent. [The Heater]
- Rocco Baldelli who played the field in 2 of his first 3 games, said it was not easy on his body. [MLB]
“It was something I hadn’t done yet. It was difficult, not going to say it was easy, but I came out of it feeling good.”
- The Rays make a return appearance at The Dugout with Barry Bonds trying to convince Joe Maddon to give him a job, any job. [Fanhouse]
- Her Rays thinks Grant Balfour may need to visit the same psychologist that helped Matt Garza. [Her Rays]
- The odds of the Rays winning the World Series has dropped from 65:1 in the spring to 3:1 now. [Gambling911]