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THE GOOD: 3 more bases loaded walks. This is starting to get ridiculous. That is now 24 on the season which leads all baseball, to go with 4 hit batters in the same situation. The Rays now have a .376 OBP with the bases loaded, which also leads the majors. On the other hand, the White Sox (Rays likely first round opponent) lead the majors with 11 home runs with the bases loaded…Foiling the double-steal. The biggest play of the game may have been a flawlessly executed thwarting of the O’s attempted double-steal in the 5th. With 1 out and men on first and third, the O’s attempted a double-steal. Dioner Navarro’s throw went threw to second. Aki Iwamura, seeing the runner on 3rd break for home, cut off the throw and nailed the runner at home. It was perfect. A play practiced by every team from little league on and yet rarely do teams pull it off. That kept the Rays within 1 and killed a rally.
THE BAD: When the playoffs start, can the Rays risk a first inning performance like last night from Edwin Jackson? The Rays were lucky that they ran into a pitching staff as poor as the Orioles or they would not have overcome a first inning in which Nuke gave up 6 hits and 5 runs before an out was recorded. At least with Andy Sonnanstine, his bad outings are the type where he gets nit-picked to death. A run here. 2 runs there. In the playoffs, Joe Maddon will be able to recognize that early and get him out of there. On the other hand, Jackson’s bad outings are nuclear meltdowns. At this point we have to assume Sonnanstine will be the game 4 starter. Then again, if the Rays play their first game on October 1, they could bring the game 1 starter back in game 4 on normal rest.
THE TELLING: According to Baseball Prospectus, with the magic number now 1, the odds of winning the AL East is now 99.5%…The Minnesota Twins beat the Chicago White Sox for the second time in 2 days. They now trail the Central leaders by one-half game. They are 1 back in the loss column, so they need to win again tonight to have a realistic chance. The Rays will likely face the the winner of the Central division in the ALDS…The Angels came from behind in the 8th inning last night and the Rays still trail by 2 for the best record in the AL. The Rays do have the tie-breaker between the two clubs having won the season series.
DEVIL DOGS WEBTOPIA…
- The magic number is 1 and today’s game is at 1:00 in Detroit. Hell yeah. We gotta do a Live Blog-A-Baloo!
- In case you missed it yesterday afternoon, we ran a bunch of “Webtopia” links in the evening “Happy Hour” feature. [Rays Index]
- Another name to throw in the first-pitch mix: A guy that knows something about winning championships, Jon Gruden…Just sayin’.
- Uh-oh. Attack of the Fennellyisms…Something about Troy Percival and pitching in the post-season. Hard to tell. [Tampa Tribune]
- John Romano takes a look at some of the post-season roster decisions that are looming, including the bullpen (will Troy Percival be ready, and if not will Grant Balfour get a chance to close in the final series against Detroit?), the rotation (3- or 4-man rotation) and outfield (Fernando Perez and/or Carl Crawford). Joe Maddon makes it clear that even though he and Percy have a long history, the decision will be based on what is best for the Rays. [St. Pete Times]
- Praise for the the Rays these days is coming from all corners of the MLBiverse. [MLB]
- Both St. Pete and Tampa are planing celebrations in honor of the Rays. [St. Pete Times]
- Another example of how improbable this run has been for the Rays…Camden Chat put together an All-AL East team and there are only 2 Rays on the list, and that was only because they decided to take a middle reliever, JP Howell. The other was Dioner Navarro. [Camden Chat]
- Dick Scanlon says that Jason Bartlett is just one of the Rays MVPs. [Lakeland Ledger]