THE GOOD: The Garza Complex. You hold the Red Sox to 1 run in 7 innings at Fenway, that is always good. But he did struggle at times, walking 3 and needing 22 pitches to survive the first. We were impressed that he managed to make it through 7…Matt Joyce. Boy, that kid has a swing that was born to hit home runs, and yesterday he hit his first for the Rays. Might he earn a start against a lefty?…Carl Crawford. Stellar defense all-around. We have been hard on CC because he doesn’t have the best arm in the world, but we have always said he is one of the best from the time the ball leaves the bat, until the time it reaches his glove. He made two great running grabs, one each way yesterday…Defensive Shifts. We are all familiar with Joe Maddon’s shifts against lefties, but what about the shift yesterday against Mike Lowell in which he lined out right to Aki iwamura who was standing behind second base. With a runner on third, that shift saved a run.
THE BAD: Heartburn. As in that is what Troy Percival gives us every time he steps on the mound. He got the job done, but why can’t it ever be easy?…Umpiring. For the second time this series an automatic ball was called on the Rays starting pitcher for putting his hand to his mouth while on the mound. Yes, it is a rule that the pitcher must ask permission to do so. But in years past, it was just assumed that permission had been granted on cold days. It appears as though this is a point of emphasis this season in MLB to make sure pitchers start asking. Let’s hope this doesn’t turn into the balk-circus that occurred back in 1988, in which 26 kazillion balks were called as umpires were told to abide by the letter of the law…Missed RBI. The Rays stranded a small army yesterday on the basepaths, including 4 separate innings in which a runner was stranded at third.
THE TELLING: This was the first opening-series loss by the Red Sox since 1988, and it was the first opening series win by the Rays since 2002…Shawn Riggans may soon become Matt Garza’s personal catcher. Riggans was the catcher when Garza 1-hit the Marlins last season and he was the catcher when Garza threw a 2-hit shutout against the Rangers…Rain is in the forecast for Baltimore this evening.
SUNBURST PLAYER OF THE GAME: Evan Longoria. We know that yesterday we said that a strong pitching performance at Fenway gets your name here, but it did seem that part of Matt Garza’s “good” was luck as 43 of his 106 pitches were balls. And we did not like when he appeared to be worried about his pitch count in the 6th and instead of wasting a pitch, he grooved an 0-2 fastball that turned into an RBI triple. No, Longo is the one, literally. Another home run. Another double. Three more hits. But what we loved the most was the defensive play he made in the 9th, when he saved Percival’s arse. And the best part was how the crowd was chanting “M-V-P” for Dustin Pedroia when the play was made by Longoria. Foreshadowing of things to come?
DEVIL DOGS WEBTOPIA…
- We are once again running the “Down on the Farm” segment, looking at the Rays minor league affiliates. That post has its own “Webtopia” for minor league news. It will run daily in the AM, just before “The Hangover.” If you missed today’s, it can be found below this post.
- A new Rays blog. Go on over and welcome them to the neighborhood. [TheDevilSlips]
- “It doesn’t have to be an oil painting to be successful.” Joe Maddon on Troy Percival. [Tampa Tribune]
- Joe Maddon says there is “some kind of mental vibe” going on between Matt Garza and Shawn Riggans and Marc Topkin points out that Garza works well with Riggans because Riggans offers Garza a lower target. [St. Pete Times]
- We forgot to mention this a couple of days ago, but now that Matt Joyce has hit a home run, maybe it is a little safer today…When we first saw that Edwin Jackson was the Tigers #2 starter, our first reaction was to bet the under on the win total. Then we saw his first start and we thought, yep, could have seen that coming. A 1-hit shutout through 7, left after 8 having allowed only 1 run on 2 hits. [Detroit Free-Press]
- In their own unique way, Babes Love Baseball previews the Tampa Bay Rays. [Babes Love Baseball]
- Tim Brown keeps the Rays in the top spot in his latest power rankings…Normally we are a little more cautious (some would say pessimistic), but if the three best team in baseball reside in the AL East and the Yankees just lost 2 to the O’s and the Rays took 2 of 3 at Fenway, then it is hard to argue at this point. [Yahoo! Sports]
- Marc Lancaster has the Summer concert series schedule. [Rays Report]