FIRST INNING
A look back…
Last week Joe Maddon, with the off-day, switched James Shields and Matt Garza in the rotation. Garza was to pitch on Friday on normal rest, with Shields going on Saturday with 6 days rest. However, because of the rain-out on Friday, both pitched on Saturday. Now, Garza has to come back on Wednesday on 3-days rest…Would Maddon have been better off just skipping Garza on Saturday?

With the double-header, the Rays now have 6 games in 5 days, which means somebody has to pitch on 3-days rest. Unless, Maddon decided to use somebody else for one of the starts. It does seem like Maddon is being a little greedy trying to stick to his normal 5-man rotation in this situation. Whether it was the Saturday start or the Wednesday start, one should probably have gone to one of David Price/Jeff Niemann/Mitch Talbot…NOT LIKE MADDON TO OVER-REACH WITH HIS STARTERS

SECOND INNING
Headlines
Outs Per Swing was adamant that David Price should be in the rotation in place of Edwin Jackson…Isn’t this just a knee-jerk reaction to just one start?

Normally we would say “yes”. Just as you can’t judge a baseball team on one game, it is nearly impossible to get a complete picture of a starting pitcher in one start. But there was something about watching King David on the mound. It was more than the “stuff”, which is electric. He has a poise on the mound. A “presence” that is undeniable. The Rays only need 4 starting pitchers in the post-season, and it would not bother us if Price is the 4th starter ahead of both Edwin Jackson and Andy Sonnanstine. We think both of those pitchers have made great strides and if the chips fall the right way, either could win a post-season game. But we would have much more confidence in Price…WE HOPE JOE MADDON AGREES

THIRD INNING
Headlines
On Wednesday, Matt Garza will start against the Red Sox on 3 days rest…Is this a good idea?

Pick your poison. Garza on 3 days rest or Niemann making his first big league start in 5 months or Talbot making his first major league start. EVER. We guess that Garza is the best option, but we don’t like a young pitcher working on short rest, especially this late in the season and this close to the playoffs. We probably would have gone with a committee start. Give 4-5 pitchers 1-3 innings each. But in the end, none of the options are very appealing…NO, BUT WE DON’T HAVE A BETTER ONE

FOURTH INNING
Headlines
Troy Percival says he is taking some new muscle relaxers and is now ready to start closing again…Would Joe Maddon just throw him back out there and should we be worried?

Papa Joe is loyal to his players, but he is rarely loyal “to a fault.” Twice this season, Maddon has pulled Percy from a game against his will. We have a feeling that this time around we will see Percival in at least one non-save situation. Most likely a game in which the Rays are trailing in the 9th inning. If Percival can come out of that appearance unscathed, then he will get the job back. But the games are too important right now. Percival has to show he is ready…WE HOPE NOT

FIFTH INNING
Headlines
[RAIN DELAY: Queue the reruns of "Home Run Derby"]

SIXTH INNING
A look outside the box
With the Rays facing the Red Sox…what other series should RAYSHEADS watch closely?

There are other games this week? We thought the Trop was the center of the baseball universe this week. OK, OK. The only other series that matters it the Twins in Cleveland. The magic number for a playoff spot is now 8. If the Rays can win 1 or 2 against the Sox and the Twins drop 1 or 2 against the Indians, the Rays will be in a position to clinch their first-ever playoff spot this upcoming weekend when the Twins come to the Trop. On a side note, the Yankees tragic number is 5. Playing at home against the White Sox, the Pinstripers are on the verge of elimination…TWINS @ INDIANS

SEVENTH INNING
Over/Unders
Starts for Willy Aybar in this series: 1.5

Aybar has been one of the Rays best weapons over the past month. With Evan Longoria back, Joe Maddon will have to be creative to get Aybar playing time. Aybar has been much stronger as a right-handed batter this season. With Fernando Perez and Ben Zobrist (both switch-hitters) batting right-handed against Mike Mussina, we wonder if Aybar might be in the lineup against Wakefield, batting right-handed. Many switch-hitters prefer to bat right-handed against the knuckleballer. But other than that game, we are not sure that Aybar will get a start in the first two games of the series, both featuring rightiesUNDER

Post-season starts for Fernando Perez: 0.5

Perez was promoted in time to qualify for the post-season roster, and he is already getting much more playing time than we or Joe Maddon would have thought. The only concern is the return of Carl Crawford. Will Maddon need Perez if CC is back playing everyday? We still think Papa Joe has seen enough and Perez is now part of the regular rotation…OVER

Post-season starts for David Price: 0.5

We think Joe Maddon will need to see one more start, but you know the thought has crossed his mind once or twice since Price fired that first fastball on Sunday…OVER

Wins for the Rays versus the Red Sox in this series: 1.5

This could be an ugly series. Scott Kazmir versus Daisuke Matsuzaka is a toss-up, but Andy Sonnanstine against Josh Beckett is tough and Matt Garza on 3 days rest against the Rays-Killer Tim Wakefield is not much better. The good news is, the Rays only need 1 win to maintain a lead in the loss column…UNDER

EIGHTH INNING
On deck
It seems that every time the Rays play the Red Sox now, many call it the “most important series in franchise history”…Is this series the most important in franchise history?

We still think the sweep of the Red Sox back in late June was bigger. The Rays entered that series with a half-game lead over the Red Sox. That was supposed to be the series that put the Rays in their place. Instead they made clear to not only the Red Sox, but also to the rest of baseball and most importantly, to themselves, that they were in this for the long-haul. The second most important series was the Toronto series right after the all-star break. The Rays entered the break losers of 7-straight. Most were saying that the clock was about to strike midnight for the upstart Rays. Don’t get us wrong. This series is very important, but the Rays are going to the playoffs even if they are swept in this series. And after winning 2 of 3 in Boston last week, not even a sweep could hurt the confidence of this squad…NO

NINTH INNING
Putting out the fire
Bugs and Cranks produced pictures of Evan Longoria and BJ Upton, in their new Mohawk hairdos…Who looks worse?

This is an easy one. Dirtbag looks like something out of “Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome“…We once wrote that if we had a daughter, we would let Longoria marry her. We immediately regret that decision…EVAN LONGORIA

Bugs and Cranks also has the new postseason commercial from Fox featuring Evan Longoria, Carlos Pena and the Rays…Too soon?

Fox knows the Rays exist? We are surprised they are not still featuring the New York RoadkillsHELL NO, THERE IS ONLY ONE OCTOBER WHICH IS UNFORTUNATE SINCE IT HAS THE PLAYOFFS, OCTOBERFEST AND HALLOWEEN

Her Rays has an image of several Rays dressed in costumes, some in drag…Who has the best costume?

OUR EYES!!…OUR EYES!!

Drink of choice for the Red Sox series?

In an attempt to determine what the “Opposite of Sam Adams” would be, we recalled that Sam Adams (the person) was a key leader in the events that led to the Boston Tea Party. So obviously we should go British. Our favorite English beer is…BODDINGTON’S

 
 

3 Comments

  1. Anonymous says:

    I didn’t know you skipped an inning in the event of a rain delay. Slacker

  2. Clayton says:

    Mmmmmmm…Boddington’s.

  3. Chris in Raleigh NC says:

    Little late commenting here, but I think you’re overlooking Niemann here in the enthusiasm over Price. Jeff’s had a very good season in Durham, especially the last five starts. In those games he faced 142 batters and only gave up 20 hits, 9 walks, hit 2, and struck out 42. His OBP was .218. that’s pretty darn good. Included a complete game shutout and an 8-inning 2-hitter. So if I were looking for someone for a spot start, I’d look at Niemann before Price. Price’s numbers during same time frame and same number of games are: 129, 32, 13, no hit batsmen, and 32 strikeouts. OBP, .357. Niemann’s only weaknesses that I noticed were two. First, he can become completely unraveled in an inning. That may be as much due to having a weak infield behind him after departure of Brignac and Guzman at end of the season. Second, he isn’t very good at keeping runners on base. Don’t have the numbers on number of bases stolen, but sure seemed like it was fairly common (but maybe that’s an artifact of one of those meltdown innings — walks, steals, errors coming in bunches. Still, the OBP captures much of that and it’s very low (better than anyone oo the Rays by quite a bit–although it’s AAA, after all).

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