THE GOOD: Joe Maddon. Coach has a tendency to overthink games in NL parks, but with an off-day Monday, Maddon pinch-hit for Jeff Niemann in the 5th even though he had only allowed 2 runs up to that point. Niemann was not sharp, but with 2 on and nobody out, Maddon chose to pinch-hit with Willy Aybar as opposed to bunt with Niemann. Aybar came through with a single to load the bases. The Rays would eventually score 4 in the inning…Top O’ The Order To Ya. BJ Upton, Carl Crawford and Evan Longoria combined to go 11-16 with 7 RBI and 6 runs scored. …Willy Aybar. Think Willy Aybar knows how valuable BJ Upton is? After Upton crossed the plate in the 5th and Gary Sheffield’s throw sailed to the backstop, Upton was potentially in line of the throw to second base to get Carl Crawford. Upton ducked and Aybar immediately covered Upton’s backside (above). That’s love.
THE BAD: Jeff Niemann. When he doesn’t have control, there seems to be no hope of finding it that day. No strikeouts, 4 walks and 2 pitches to the backstop…Carl Crawford. With nobody out and the pitcher on the ropes after giving up 5 straight hits, CC was caught trying to steal 3rd in the 5th. CC can’t go there with Evan Longoria, Carlos Pena and Ben Zobrist due up…Carlos Pena. Yes, ‘Los likes to bunt against the shift from time-to-time, but with nobody on and 2 outs, Pena can’t bunt there. There is little advantage to the Rays to having a runner on first in that situation and Pena is no threat to steal second…Joe Dillionaire. Joe Dillon has not played since the opening game of the Rockies series and Joe Maddon even used Andy Sonnanstine as a pinch-hitter in the 9th with Dillon still on the bench (see comments for explanation).
THE TELLING: Yesterday’s game included two delays. The first for an umpire injury and then a 34-minute rain delay in the 7th…Sure, 4-2 would have been nice, but 3-3 on the road against 2 NL playoff contenders is not bad…The Rays now lead the AL with a .355 OBP…The Bullpen, despite early struggles, now has the third best ERA (3.56) in the AL…The Rays are 6 back in the AL East, but only trail the Yankees by 2 in the Wild Card. Toronto and LA are 1 back in the Wild Card.
SUNBURST PLAYER OF THE GAME: BJ Upton
DEVIL DOGS WEBTOPIA…
- Scott Kazmir will be limited to about 85 pitches tonight in his latest rehab start, this one for Durham. Also, Chad Bradford will pitch back-to-back games tomorrow and Wednesday and then again on Saturday. He is expected to be activated next week. [Tampa Tribune]
- Yes, there is a creature called Zorilla and it has nothing to do with a Gorilla or Ben Zobrist. [St. Pete Times]
- There does not appear to be much excitement for the upcoming World Series rematch and Marc Topkin reports that The Trop may only be half-filled tomorrow night. [St. Pete Times]
- A father’s day card for Elijah Dukes. [Trop It Like It's Hot]