THE GOOD: The Comeback Kids. Last year, the Rays entered the break reeling with a 7-game losing streak and fell to second place in the East. This year, it was just a 2-game losing streak, but it feels like the team has been reeling all season. Last year, it was a comeback win on the first game out of the break that got the team rolling once again. Might 3 straight come from behind wins and a sweep of the Royals do the same in ’09?…Double-Play to Save the Day. With the Rays trailing 3-2 in the 7th, the Royals loaded the bases with just 1 out. Grant Balfour enduced an inning-ending double-play to get out of the jam…JP Howell. 9 up, 9 down. Three straight saves. But he is still not the closer.
THE BAD: The Starting Pitching. The Rays started the second-half with their 3 most experienced starters, and none worked into the 7th inning. They allowed 11 runs in 17.1 innings. There is only so much the bullpen can do. The Rays will not make the playoffs unless they start getting more consistent work from their starters…Matt Garza. Garza loaded the bases with no outs in the second. He then got the next 2 batters without allowing a run and got ahead of David DeJesus 1-2. But 3 pitches later, Garza walked in the go-ahead run. A meltdown of epic proportions. Garza walked 5 in 5 innings and seemed to be battling himself all day…Pat the No Contact. Despite showing some flashes of brilliance recently, it wasn’t there on Sunday as Pat Burrell went 0-4 with 4 strikeouts and 5 runners left on base…
THE TELLING: Sure it was only the third game after the break, but the Rays don’t have an off-day this upcoming week. So it was a little surprising that Joe Maddon went with his normal starting lineup during a day-game…The Rays are now 51-41, 4.5 games back in the AL East and 3.5 in back of the Yankees who apparently never lose. The Yankees and Rays are also 1-2 in the Wild Card race with the Rangers 5 back and Seattle 5.5 back. Anybody think either of those teams are a threat?…CoolStandings.com gives the Rays a 41.7% shot at making the playoffs. PECOTA says it is 25.5%.
DEVIL DOGS WEBTOPIA…
- Scott Kazmir was pulled on Saturday with tightness in his forearm. Joe Maddon says Kaz will likely make his next start. [The Heater]
- Brian Shouse could be ready to rejoin the Rays this weekend. Tony Fabrizio also says the Rays will not rush the return of Shawn Riggans as they have been pleased with Michel Hernandez. [Tampa Tribune]
- Alan Schwarz of the New York Times has a piece on Ben Zobrist and his rise to one of the “most valuable assets in the league.” [New York Times]
- The hit didn’t go far, but it was huge for Carlos Pena. [St. Pete Times]
- The Negro League Museum in Kansas City awarded Joe Maddon with the CI Taylor award given to the AL’s top manager of 2008. [MLB]
- John Romano sums up the Rays closer situation nicely: “It’s not that the Rays do not want to name a closer. They just have no reason to.” [St. Pete Times]
- Tony Fabrizio writes that Pat Burrell is starting to look like he is past the next injury. [Tampa Tribune]
- Her Rays sends Matt Garza back to the Baseball Guru. [Her Rays!]
- David Chalk has the breakdown of Ryan Lefebvre comparing Dan Wheeler to a standing fetus. [Bugs and Cranks]