THE GOOD: We thought Joe Maddon had been out-managed in the 9th inning. With Cliff Floyd due up, Terry Francona was going to leave the lefty in. So Papa Joe put in Justin Ruggiano as a pinch-hitter. Of course, Tito counters with Jonathan Papelbon. At the time we wondered which was the better situation, Floyd versus a lefty or Ruggiano against one of the better closers in baseball. We chose Floyd. But then the depth of September came through. Papa Joe switched batters again, going with Dan Johnson, who had joined the team only minutes before the start of the game. We still wondered if this was a good idea. Using a player that has not had a major league at bat in months and didn’t even get a chance to hit BP prior to the game, against Papelbon. Seemed lose-lose to us. Of course Papelbon fed a steady diet of fastballs to a fastball hitter and eventually Johnson got the timing down and tied the game…It would be impossible for us to understate just how important this game was. Sure the Rays were still going to the playoffs, but the psyche of the team was in legitimate danger of being destroyed last night. It is not just losing. It is playing like the Rays do not even belong in the playoffs…The odds of making the playoffs is now 99.6% according to Baseball Prospectus and the odds of winning the division just went up from less than 50% to 61.9%.
THE BAD: Just knew Jason Bay was going to happen. It was too obvious. The guy that many RAYSHEADS thought the Rays had acquired at the trade deadline, only to have him go to the Red Sox instead. After walking a batter, and setting up a situation in which Bay had a chance to put the Sox up. The only possible ending to that situation was a home run…The Rays continue to struggle with runners in scoring position. The Rays left a runner in scoring position in every inning from the 2nd through the 7th.
THE TELLING: Dan Johnson was originally scheduled to start in left field, but did not arrive at the park until just before the first pitch. Ben Zobrist got the start in center with Gabe Gross moving to right field and Eric Hinske shifted over to left…How many times have the Rays scored a run when a player was hit by a pitch with the bases loaded?…Interestingly, Andrew Friedman chose to promote Michel Hernandez, rather than sign Mike DiFelice who is still a free agent…The Rays magic number to win the division is 18 and the magic number to clinch at least a wild card spot is 12*.
*The White Sox and the Twins play each other 3 more times. The most wins the second place team in the Central can have is 96. So technically, the Rays magic number is 11. We could mark off the “guaranteed” loss now or we can do it when it actually happens…We choose the latter.
DEVIL RAYS WEBTOPIA…
- In case you missed it last night, Dan Johnson and Michel Hernandez were promoted from Durham to give the Rays some added depth. [Rays Index]
- We also updated our 2009 25-man and 40-man roster projections. You can find those in the sidebar.
- Marc Lancaster says Shawn Riggans could be out a while, making the decision to promote Michel Hernandez instead of signing Mike DiFelice all the more perplexing. Hernandez has 5 games of major league experience and DiFelice has 13 seasons…Also Lancaster says Jonny Gomes is likely to be called up once the Bulls conclude their playoff series. [Tampa Tribune]
- Last night was could have been a demoralizing loss for the Rays. Instead it was a demoralizing loss for the Red Sox. Several Sox players refused to talk to the media after the game. [Boston Globe]
- Bugs and Cranks pushes the envelope in recapping last night’s game, quoting “Hamlet” and insinuating that the Rays did something naughty to the Red Sox…Our eyes…Our eyes!! [Bugs and Cranks]
- Joe Henderson may have said it best: “There are moments in any pennant race that transcend the ol‘ “one game at a time” bromide. Some wins really are bigger than others, just as some losses are as well. This is one of those moments…A loss that would have been devastating turned instead into the kind of moment that validates what the Rays have been saying all along. They’ve been knocked down and beaten up, but a baseball team such as this is rare. This team with the pint-sized payroll showed its 10-gallon heart again Tuesday night.” [Tampa Tribune]
- David Price has completed his season with the Bulls. If he is to be called up, it could happen as early as today. [Rays Index]
- Baseball Analysts take John Romano to task for predicting the Rays may be succumbing to pressure and “won’t have that pressure much longer.” [Baseball Analysts]
- The Rays will televised nationally on ESPN tonight and Friday. [St. Pete Times]