The GBT – The Good, The Bad and The Telling sandwich, where The Bad is nice and lean and the The Telling is ripe.
THE GOOD: Jeff Niemann. The Rays are now 13-2 the last 15 times Niemann has started a game. And yesterday was about as good as we have seen him. 7 strikeouts and no walks. The biggest moment came in the 7th when he loaded the bases with 1 out. He came back and struck out Scott Podsednik and Alexei Ramirez to get out of the inning and keep the Rays within 1. Right now? Jeff Niemann is the Rays best starting pitcher…Free Runs. Pat Burrell’s bases loaded walk to tie the game in the 9th was the Rays 11th of the season. They have also been hit by pitch 3 times with sacks full. Those 14 “free” runs are tied for 4th in MLB. The Rays led that category by a wide margin in ’08 with 29…Uncle Charlie. It is rare to see old-school curveballs these days. White Sox got 2 in one game with Jeff Niemann and JP Howell, and both were gorgeous. Sliders are easier to throw, but we think pitchers don’t appreciate how dominating a good 12-to-6er can be…Coming On Back. Prior to the All-Star break the Rays had won just 2 games in which they trailed in the 7th inning or later. They have now done it 4 times since the break….
THE BAD: Lefties. The Rays are supposed to be better against lefties this season and yet they could only manage 4 hits in 8 innings off of Clayton Richard. This was one reason the Rays went with Pat Burrell this past off-season over other left-handed hitting free agents. Burrell does have a very good .382 OBP versus lefties, but he is slugging a Cairo-esque .306. Actually, Miguel Cairo has a career sluggling of .356, so that is not fair, to Cairo.
THE TELLING: It was an unusual lineup for the Rays due to the tough lefty. Both Carl Crawford and Carlos Pena were on the bench, Tonight’s original starter, Gabe Kapler started in left, Ben Zobrist was in right batting cleanup and some guy named, hold on let me check again, “Joe Dillon“, started at second. If we had known Joe Maddon was just pulling people out of the stands, we would have volunteered…John Danks will not pitch tonight due to a blister. He will be replaced by a rookie, Carlos Torres…The Red Sox lost and are now a game behind the Yankees and 3.5 up on the Rays in the Wild Card.
DEVIL DOGS WEBTOPIA…
- Scott Kazmir will start Thursday. [The Heater]
- Jon Heyman was on WFAN yesterday and continues to say that the Rays are looking to trade for a closer. However, he said that the available arms do not offer an upgrade over what the Rays already have. [No Link]
- RotoInfo attempts to project Ben Zobrist’s future defensive abilities. [RotoInfo]
- Rays the Stakes offers a theory on how the Rays will handle Carl Crawford and Aki Iwamura. [Rays the Stakes]
- A bit ironic that one day after possibly causing the Rays a chance to tie a game by getting caught stealing third in the 8th inning, Jason Bartlett is quoted in a story about the freedom Joe Maddon gives the Rays to steal bases: “I think it all starts with Joe just giving us that freedom,” Rays shortstop Jason Bartlett said. “It’s an honor that he trusts us.” [MLB]
- After we read the first few words of this headline, we needed to change our shorts. [WIBW.com]
- The Orioles will be moving to Sarasota for Spring Training…This is likely a welcomed move by the Rays as it gives them a regular opponent in the Spring that doesn’t require a long bus ride. [Tampa Tribune]