THE GOOD: Finally, the Rays caught a couple of breaks. First was in the second inning after Matt Garza gave up a leadoff single. With the runner going on the pitch to stay out of a double-play, Lyle Overbay then hit a bouncer back up the middle that looked like a catcher trying to throw out a basestealer. The ball bounced chest-high right over the second base bag, right to a waiting Jason Bartlett, who caught it and threw to first for the double-play. Then in the 7th, after retiring the first 2 batters, Garza gave up back-to-back singles, the second of which went under the glove of Willy Aybar, essentially giving the Jays an extra out in the inning. Garza survived to get the next batter to pop out. Finally, in the 9th inning, with a 1-0 lead Joe Maddon brought in Dan Wheeler and looking like a genius, Papa Joe moves Justin Ruggiano from right to left field. With 2 outs, Rod Barajas hit a ball that if a foot farther is a home run. As it was, Ruggiano timed his jump perfectly and his glove and the ball reach the top of the fence at the same moment, and somehow the ball stuck in Ruggiano’s glove. Game over…We’ve been saying it for a while, but if there was any doubt, there shouldn’t be now. The Yankees are dead. The Yankees are roadkill.
THE BAD: Holes in the Rays’ bats. The 11 strikeouts isn’t terible. But when 9 of them come in the first 4 innings, that is terrible. It is hard to tell, how much of it was the Rays having a bad night or how much was just David Purcey pitching light’s out. He threw a complete game needing only 90 pitches. 72 of those pitches were strikes. A truly Madduxian performance. Just gotta tip the cap and be grateful for Carlos Pena’s latest home run, or else they might still be playing.
THE TELLING: The Rays magic number for the Wild Card is 25 over the Twins, with 31 games remaining.
DEVIL RAYS WEBTOPIA…
- Dioner Navarro had an MRI done on both of his hamstrings and no damage was detected. He is listed as day-to-day. [Rays Report]
- Evan Longoria hit off a tee and Joe Maddon said everything went well. [The Heater]
- We have been trying to defend the attendance for a while now. But after this week, we don’t know what to say anymore. John Romano is right: “And, in a remarkable display of grace under pressure, we continue to stay away from Tropicana Field in droves.” Matt Silverman has a couple of quotes that reveal the frustration of the team. [St. Pete Times]
“The TV ratings are high, and that’s a great sign, but it hasn’t translated to the number of people at Tropicana Field. It really takes the wind out of our sails,” Silverman said. “We’ve poured our hearts and souls into making this a great draw, and a great fan experience. And to come home after a great road trip and have … the smallest crowds in major-league baseball was discouraging.
- Baseball Mastermind takes a look back at their preseason preview of the Rays to see what they got right…As a side-note, we have a few friends that got the Rays over-under for wins prior to the season at 77. They laughed at how “high” it was, bet the under, calling it the best line they had ever seen. Like a broken record, they all chimed in, “I don’t care how improved the Rays are, they will never win 78 games when they have to play the Red Sox and Yankees 18 or 19 times each.” We warned them that it was not as impossible as they thought. Does anybody listen to us? Suckers. [Baseball Mastermind]
- This should put to rest any lingering thoughts that the Rays should have drafted Pedro Alvarez with the top pick in June. Turns out Scott Boras refused to do any negotiating until just hours before the deadline and when Alvarez finally stepped up and pushed the negotiations just before the midnight deadline, a deal got done. Only, now Boras and Alvarez are contesting the deal, saying it was not submitted in time and of course they want more money. In other words, Alvarez and Boras are not happy that Buster Posey got more money. [MLB]