THE GOOD: Jeff Niemann is close. Not sure we will tolerate too many more Edwin-esque one-bad-inning nights, but at this stage it shows promise. Outside of the 2-run home run to Jermaine Dye, Niemann was good, if not great. And he impressed us by striking out Dye the next time around…Carlos Pena. Is he hot? We actually aren’t sure. 4 home runs in 5 games is pretty darned good. And a 9-game hitting streak is nice. But in 8 of those games, he had only 1 hit. On the plus-side, since his 4-strikeout opening day, he has 6 Ks in 9 games and 5 walks…Gabe Kapler. We have been a little hard on one-half of the Gabe-of-the-Day, so it is only fair that we recognize his defensive performance last night. A nice running grab, taking away a double and then later, threw out Jermaine Dye trying to stretch a single into a double…Grant Balfour back? His velocity is still only 92-93, but that is a little better than where it’s been and after walking the first batter he faced to load the bases, he kept the Rays in the game by striking out Jim Thome and Jermaine Dye…Jason Bartlett. Barty had 2 more hits and now has 14 in 10 games and 2 walks.
THE BAD: Dioner Navarro. In the 4th with guys on 2nd and 3rd and only 1 out, Navi popped out. Gotta find a way to get the run home in that spot with the defense playing back…Kevin Kennedy. Maybe he is an acquired taste and maybe some of you guys like him, but we are not there yet. And last night with two close calls going agains the Rays, we actually thought Kennedy was a little too homerific on the umps. On the play at first, if you have to slow the replay down to a frame-by-frame, that is not a bad call. It is a missed call. The umpire doesn’t get the benefit of the freeze-frame. And we actually think the umps got the Dye hit-by-pitch right.
THE TELLING: In Evan Longoria’s absense, Willy Aybar started at third and Ben Zobrist started at second base to give Aki Iwamura the night off…The Rays have now dropped 5 of 7 and in the 5 losses have scored a total of 11 runs…Joe Maddon was ejected after the umpires changed their ruling on a Jermaine Dye hit-by-pitch. We think Maddon was upset more for the lack of consistency from the crew than the actual call.
SUNBURST PLAYER OF THE GAME: Carlos Pena
DEVIL DOGS WEBTOPIA…
- The Rays Baseball Foundation will hand out grants to 29 local not-for-profit organizations today. [St. Pete Times]
- With his 10th career ejection (5 against the Angels) Joe Maddon has passed Lou Piniella on the Rays all-time list, which is pretty impressive considering the Rays were managed by not just Piniella, but also Hal McRae. Seemed like that guy would get ejected twice every night and then go back to the clubhouse and get ejected again. [The Heater]
- Joe Henderson says there is not a lot the Rays can do right now except hope the bullpen gets better. [Tampa Tribune]
- No idea why a team that is 2-5 in last 7 is still on top of Tim Brown’s power rankings. [Yahoo! Sports]
- Rays Revolutionary writes an open letter to Joe Maddon about Troy Percival. [Rays Revolutionary]
- Her Rays offers a bribe for the Rays bullpen. [Her Rays]
- Rays the Stakes wonders why Andy Sonnanstine was pulled after only 78 pitches in his last start. [Rays the Stakes]
- The Rays Party sums of the Rays offense from the first two weeks…They don’t use the word “sucks” anywhere. [The Rays Party]
- A look at submarine-style pitchers, including the Rays own Chad Bradford. [hurty elbow]