FIRST INNING
A look back…
Last night the Orioles, hit 3 batters and even slammed Aki Iwamura to the ground during a tag out between first and second base…Just “playing the game” or dirty baseball?

We actually didn’t have much of a problem with Ramon Hernandez taking out Iwamura. He did go right after Aki, but he had a chance to lay him out and did pull up a tad. On the other hand, go back and look at the second time Jason Bartlett was hit by a pitch. First, keep in mind that this is now the third time Bartlett has been hit by an Orioles pitcher since he hit his only home run of the season against the same O’s. The first one last night may not have been intentional, but the second one was as intentional as it gets. The catcher set up a foot outside and the pitch was 2 feet inside. We understand if the O’s are a little jealous of all the Rays success this season. Jealous of an owner that cares and a front office that gets it. While the O’s and their fans may have thought they would be the ones to someday dethrone the beasts of the East, it must kill them that it was the Tampa Bay Devil Rays. Trever Miller retaliated in the bottom of the 8th, but don’t think this is over. O’s hitters might want to wear extra protection next spring…DIRTY AS IT GETS

SECOND INNING
Headlines
Edwin Jackson came out last night and before he could even record an out the Orioles had 5 runs on the board…Is there still a chance he could start a game in the playoffs?

Earlier this week we actually projected Jackson as the 4th starter. It just seems that Joe Maddon has always preferred Jackson to Sonnanstine. And yet we still would not have been surprised if it was Sonnanstine. Now? We have to assume Sonny is the guy, but there is a catch. If both are on the post-season roster, Sonnanstine might be the better reliever. If only one is needed on the roster, then we now think it will be Sonnanstine making that game 4 start…NO

THIRD INNING
Headlines
The Twins have moved within a half-game of the White Sox with 1 game remaining head-to-head. The winner of the division will face the Rays in the first round…Who should RAYSHEADS be rooting for…

The Rays went 3-3 against the Twins this season and 6-4 against the White Sox. In reality, both teams scare us. The White Sox have 2 tough lefties in their rotation and a veteran lineup. The Twins on the other hand have Nelson Liriano and the Twins never lose playoff games at the Metrodome. Also, if the Twins win the division, they will come in riding a wave of momentum that could carry over…CHICAGO WHITE SOX

FOURTH INNING
Headlines
It is starting to look like Troy Percival will be kept off the post-season roster…What does this mean for the rest of the roster?

As for the playoff roster, it means Edwin Jackson, Andy Sonnanstine and David Price will all be on the roster. Unless of course Joe Maddon doesn’t think Price can be effective out of the ‘pen. Then Jason Hammel is the last guy in. As for closing in the playoffs, Maddon will go with a committee, playing individual matchups. And yet, it has been Dan Wheeler more often recently. Still, with Wheeler’s struggles, we expect to see other faces, with Grant Balfour being the first alternative…BULLPEN WILL BE FINE

FIFTH INNING
Headlines
James Shields is scheduled to start on Sunday. At this point that game may have little meaning…Will he make that start?

Joe Maddon has a tough decision regarding the rotation. If Shields starts Sunday, he will not be available until game 2 on Friday. If Maddon is OK with that, look for Shields to start Sunday but only work 3-4 innings. The other option is to skip Shields on Sunday and save him for game 1 on Wednesday or Thursday. If that happens, Shields will be working on 7 or 8 days rest. Extra rest is not always a good thing. Sometimes pitchers come out too strong and overthrow after extra rest. But if Shields waits until game 2, who goes in game 1. If game 1 is on Thursday, Matt Garza could go on normal rest, or Scott Kazmir can go on 6 days rest. If the series opens on Wednesday, Kazmir would likely go on 5 days rest, with Garza waiting until game 3. Of course, Shields and Garza have been much better at home. So the ideal setup may be Garza-Shields-Kazmir-Sonnanstine. But that is only if the series starts on Thursday. Follow that?…YES

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

With the magic number at 1, the only question remaining is the Rays first round opponent. You can be sure we will be following both the Twins and the White Sox. Minnesota is at home against the Royals and the Sox are at home against Cleveland…ROYALS @ TWINS; INDIANS @ WHITE SOX

SEVENTH INNING
Over/Unders
0.5 playoff games for Carl Crawford this post-season:

It looks like he is out for the first round, and there is no guarantee that there will even be a second round. And if there is, it could depend on how well Fernando Perez is playing. It doesn’t look good…UNDER

0.5 saves for Grant Balfour in the Detroit series:

This will be a good opportunity to give The Mad Australian a save opportunity or two heading into the post-season. If all the save ops go to Wheeler in this series, then we will know Wheeler is the guy in the post-season. But our gut says Maddon is looking for other options…OVER

3.5 wins in this series against the Tigers:

A sweep? If the Rays win all 4 games, they will finish with 100 wins. Not bad for a team that had never won 80 before. And if they win all 4 the Rays will go into the playoffs feeling well about themselves and it will give them a good shot at the best record in the AL. Of course, we are not sure that is too terribly important…UNDER

EIGHTH INNING
On deck
Four games are left in the regular season…What are the big things to watch for in this series?

Who closes the game in the 9th inning and how much playing time does Fernando Perez and Eric Hinske receive. That will give us a hint as to what Joe Maddon will do in the playoffs…JOE MADDON’S SCORECARD

NINTH INNING
Putting out the fire
Now that we have seen the Red Sox celebration…Should critics ease up a little bit on the Rays celebration?

Watch this VIDEO. And that is a team that has won 2 titles recently…YEAH

Natalie Portman and her boyfriend are splitsville…Thoughts?

Natalie, give us a call…ALL GOOD

Nobody seems to be worthy of who can throw out the first pitch in game 1 of the ALDS…Who is your choice?

A guy deeply entwined in the local sports scene. A guy that has won a championship. A guy that could probably give one hell of a motivational speech to the Rays prior to the game…JON GRUDEN

Her Rays is calling for Dewayne Staats to get a mohawk for charity…What is the downside?

Isn’t it obvious?…DEWAYNE STAATS WITH A MOHAWK

Drink of choice for the Tigers series?

Detroit is blue-collar America, so we gotta go import. We are in Texas this weekend for ACL, and close to Mexico…MODELO

 
 

3 Comments

  1. Anonymous says:

    Bring back Dungy for the first pitch.

    Gruden sucks. He’s proved that he’s no offensive genius, let along that he’s a good judge of character.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Nobody should ever mess with Dewayne’s man perm, not even D Wayne himself.

  3. David says:

    enjoy foo fighters on sunday, i know i will…

Leave a Comment