THE GOOD: James Shields. It had been a while since we had seen Shields paint one of his Shieldsian Masterpieces. When Shields is on his game as he was yesterday, it is like watching a young Greg Maddux. The Greg Maddux that actually threw fastballs in the low 90s and would work 8 innings. It really is a thing of beauty. 8 innings, 6 strikeouts, no walks. In only 1 inning (6th) did a runner even reach second base. We call him “James the Greater”. But maybe “Bulldog” is more appropriate.
THE BAD: In the nightcap, Ben Zobrist put the Rays in a position to win with his second career grand slam and then put the Rays in a position to lose with his 7th error of the season. Instead of an inning-ending double play, Zobrist threw an easy toss to second into right field, leading to 2 runs…The Rays had at least 2 runners on base in each of the first 3 innings and failed to score…Prior to Ben Zobrist’s grand slam, the Rays were 0-8 with runners in scoring position (if you count Fernando Perez’ “sacrifice” in the 2nd when he was trying to bunt for a basehit)…After Ben Zobrist’s grand slam with 1 out in the 4th, Yankees pitchers faced the minimum over the next 14 batters until Gabe Gross singled off of Mo Rivera to lead off the 9th…Matt Garza’s control. He only walked 3 batters in 5 innings, but of his 83 pitches only 47 were strikes (57%).
THE TELLING: In the first game of the double-header, both Ben Zobrist and Fernando Perez, switch-hitters, batted right-handed against the righty Mike Mussina. Joe Maddon told both players they could start as long as they went along with the plan. Combined, they went 2-5 with a single and a double against Moose.
DEVIL DOGS WEBTOPIA…
- Our good friends at The Serious Tip, turn 2 today…Happy Birthday! [The Serious Tip]
- Because Joe Maddon switched Matt Garza and James Shields in the rotation on Friday and Saturday and because of the subsequent rainout on Friday, the Rays are without a starter for Wednesday’s game against the Red Sox. That game would have been Garza’s start and Papa Joe could still decide use Garza despite only 3 days rest. Garza only threw 83 pitches last night. Or Maddon could decide to use one of the trio of starters just called up from triple-A, David Price, Jeff Niemann or Mitch Talbot…This is where we would normally make an educated guess as to what Maddon will do. However this time we have no clue. We could make an argument for all 4. Our gut says Niemann. Thoughts? [St. Pete Times]
- Reason number 705 that we love Stuart Sternberg and why the Rays are lucky to work for him. [Tampa Tribune]
“I just want to be there with the Red Sox fans when they cheer Jeter on, and A-Rod, and their former Damon, and Giambi, and the whole crew. All the guys that they love all year long, year after year, as they sit there and root for them to get hits and strikeouts and all that good stuff. I’d love to share a bar seat with a couple of Sox fans as they root for the Yankees.”
- Rays The Stakes wants to know why Troy Percival is still the Rays closer. [Rays The Stakes]
- John Romano thinks Francisco Rodriguez is a better comparison for David Price than Joba Chamberlain. [St. Pete Times]
- We saw in the nightcap that BJ Upton was sporting a fresh mohawk. And now we read that Evan Longoria went mohawk in between yesterday’s games. Anybody have pictures? [St. Pete Times]
- Jose Molina took exception to being hit by James Shields in the 6th inning of the opener with the Rays up 7-0. Molina gave a long stare to Shields and then was called for interference when he went out of the baseline to try and kick Jason Bartlett, while sliding into second on a double play. [Rays Report]
- The Charleston Post and Courier interviewed Carl Crawford, in which he states a strong desire to have a grass ballpark for the Rays. [Charleston Post and Courier]
- If there is any doubt that a sports franchise can survive in the Bay Area, Forbes ranks the Tampa Bay Bucs as tied for the 6th most valuable team in football at $1.1 billion. [Forbes]