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Time to bring back the GBT – The Good, The Bad and The Telling sandwich, where The Bad is nice and lean and the The Telling is ripe.

click above image for boxscore

THE GOOD: James the Greater. For the second straight start, we saw garden-variety James Shields. 8 innings, 2 runs, 8 Ks and no walks. Run support be damned. As long he continues to deliver games like this, he will get his fair share of Ws…Bossman is Backeth? That home run was classic BJ Upton. And it is amazing how much his good swing is similar to the way he runs. It is so smooth and so nonchalant, that you don’t realize exactly how much bat speed he is capable of generating. But that one swing got the Rays off the hook in a lot of ways. It was run support for James Shields. It gave the Rays a win in a one-run game. It gave the Rays a win without scoring 4 runs. And it gave the Rays a win over a team they should beat in a game they have lost too many times this season…Reid Brignac. We don’t know about the bat yet, but the glove is fine. We haven’t seen a signature play yet, but we have seen enough from Brignac to know that he is a major leaguer with the glove.

THE BAD: James the Lesser. No matter how great James Shields is, he is always good for one or two mistake pitches in a game. With the bases loaded and nobody out in the third, Shields induced a 1-2-3 double-play. But on the next batter, with 2 runners in scoring position and a full-count, Shields gave up a 2-run double on his 4th best pitch (slider). If you are going to throw a slider there, knowing first base is open, it has to be out of the strikezone…LOBs and RISP. Prior to BJ Upton’s home run in the 8th, the Rays had left at least 1 runner on base in every inning, including 2 in each of the first 4 innings, and were 0-12 with runners in scoring position…Blue on Blue. We like the new Navy blue alternates, but if the Rays are going to wear them, can they make sure the opposing team has another option besides their blue jerseys?

THE TELLING: James Shields faced CooCoo Crisp for the first time since the two exchanged missed punches last season. That is, if you don’t count the time that they hugged it out in the gym. And yes, that still bugs us…The same day that we mention that the Rays were 0-20 when scoring less than 4 runs, the Rays won a game by scoring less than 4 runs.

SUNBURST PLAYER OF THE GAME:  BJ Upton. Could have easily gone Shields, but that home run has a chance to be big for Upton and the Rays beyond this one game.

DEVIL DOGS WEBTOPIA

  • Evan Longoria hit in the cage yesterday and was available to pinch hit. He hopes to play tonight, but it might be Saturday before he returns…Also Jason Bartlett was jogging yesterday and hitting off a tee. [St. Pete Times]
  • Yes. Jeff Niemann threw a 2-hit shutout even though he used his fastball. Shocking! [The Rays Party]
  • Joe Henderson says yesterday’s start is a sign that the 2008 Rays are reemerging. [Tampa Tribune]
  • It’s Friday, so here is the latest group of the Top 177 Devil Rays Ever. [Bugs and Cranks]

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15 Comments

  1. Brett says:

    That felt like a little bit of the 2008 Ray’s magic last night. I think the next four games at TNODITB will be very telling. I’ve taken my finger off the panic button. If we win 2 or 3 from the Yankees, I’ll even flip the button cover back down. http://regmedia.co.uk/2007/06/27/usb_panic_1.png

  2. Jessica says:

    Glad to know I wasn’t the only one bothered by the fashion.

  3. Dirtbag Fan says:

    I had Brignac for SPOT-G, but if I’d have had Shields I’d feel raped, robbed, and stolen from…
    you should’ve at least split it (imo).

    • It was def a tough call. I talked to a few people that don’t participate and the general consensus was, based on how things have so far this year, everybody thought the game was over when the 8th began. So even though Shields kept them in it, Upton won it.

  4. TOBY says:

    Yesterday you said BJ’s bat speed isnt back yet because he didnt hit a HR on the first pitch of the game Wednesday night. He crushed THAT ball, but just got a bit under it, so it had nothing to do with his bat speed, which looked great on the double down the line Thursday night, and fantastic on the HR last night. He may not be 100% yet, but he is close.

    Secondly, you bring up the 3-2 breaking ball Shields threw last night that got hit for a double. I may agree that you dont throw your 4th best pitch there, but you said if he is going to throw it, he needs to throw it out of the zone. So is so wrong, I dont know where to begin. a 3-2 count is a fastball count. If he throws a good offspeed pitch down in the zone, it USUALLY ends in an out. Throwing a pitch out of the zpne on purpose on a 3-2 count should rarely if ever happen.

    • I agree that recently we have seen signs that the batspeed is coming around but it still seems inconsistent to me. Maybe I am wrong.

      As for the 3-2 pitch…he had first base open. My point is, if he can’t leave a slider up and out over the plate. Ultimatey you want to bite the corner, but if it is going to miss it has to miss out of the zone. That way re batter either chases or he walks to an open base and try again with the next batter. Bad pitch selection. Bad pitch.

      • TOBY says:

        Shields should have thrown his best pitch(CH) i that situation. But a slider is also a good pitch, as long as it isnt hung. It isnt a matter of burying it ou of the zone. Throw a quality breaking pitch for a strike in a FB count, and the hitter usually gets out.

        • Dirtbag Fan says:

          TOBY:
          You’re sidestepping one of the biggest aspects of this particular situation; which is that 1st base was open. Its always better to give up that base rather than give up a hit regardless of which pitch is or isn’t the pitcher’s best.

          Try to make him chase it out of the zone or hand him the base and get the next guy…

          If first is occupied then the whole situation changes.

  5. Joe D. says:

    I thought that it was Telling that after Shields went 8, and the Rays took the lead, JP Howell was the guy to come in to pitch in the Classic, 1 run lead save situation.

    • KillaTapes says:

      I honestly would love to see J.P as the closer, he’s not your typical closer, but I think he would thrive in the position… On the other hand- is that a waste of perhaps our most consistent bullpen guy? What if Bradford looks solid upon his return and Sonny moves to the pen upon Kazmir’s return? Then would it work?

      • Joe D. says:

        I don’t know if Maddon himself has used the term” Ace of the Bullpen” or not, but I know that that term has been thrown around on here before. Right now I think that JP is the ace of the ‘pen, and do think that it might be a bit of a waste to see him be a true closer, I’d much rather see him come in the 6th or 7th inning with a man on second no outs and have to face a the oppositions 2-3-4 hitters with 2 or 3 of the next 4 hitters due up being lefties.

        I think if Bardford is ready, and once again, as it’s been mentioned on here before, the Rays would probably like to move one if not both Wheeler and Bradford off of the payroll via trade. But lets say that they can’t move Bradfor or move Wheeler instead, I think that Maddon uses him the way he did last year, and the 2 seasons prior to that he “tried” to use Camp, as a “ground ball specialist”. I still think it’s closer by committee, at least until *gulp* Percival returns…

        • I think most of us prefer Howell to be used as an “ace”. But the one thing Maddon has to be careful (I am sure he is) is with a bullpen ace you don’t want him warming up 3-4 times a game just because a team looks like it might be starting a rally. That is where at least loosely defined roles help. But with the bullpen-by-matchup approach you can have roles but still maintain some flexibility.

          As for Percy…if/when he comes back I think we will see him used much differently. Maybe he still gets ball in 9th with 3-run lead, but those will probably be his only saves. Before he had some leverage over Maddon. I think that is gone.

          • Joe D. says:

            I agree with you on Howell, and I think Maddon does a decent job of timing up having his ‘pen ace going against the better hitters , and in the most needed times.

            I have a feeling if/when Percy comes back, Maddon will do what he did when Percy came back last year, pitch him in the 7th then the 8th, and before you know it he’s pitching the 9th inning again and is the closer, (once again) if he is healthy, and can be effective in his first trials in the earlier innings…

  6. KillaTapes says:

    I’ve been picking Upton so much, and he finally got one for me! I agree that he looks to have the bat speed back, but maybe just not in every hitting situation, if that makes sense. That at bat he knew he had one thing to try and do and that was to drive the ball, so he let it fly. Maybe the whole slump/recovery/added lead-off-pressure has messed with him mentally a little bit? Let’s hope he’s on the up and up now.

    And that at-bat with Butler really got me mad- he threw two really good pitches that had been called strikes for Meche (one in an earlier Upton at-bat) that were called balls there. None the less, that’s baseball, and I agree that he should have tried to get Butler to chase something either down and away, or up and in.

    It’s only the Royals, but that victory felt good.

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