Rays Blue Jays BaseballThe Good, The Bad and The Telling sandwich, where The Bad is nice and lean and the The Telling is ripe.

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THE GOOD: Gabe Kapler. Kapler hit a home run last night that put the Rays up 2-0. It was nice to hear from him, we had forgotten he was still in the league. It was his first HR since the stretch in June when he homered in 4 straight starts. And prior to last night he had only 1 RBI since the all-star break.

THE BAD: Another Getaway Day Disaster. The Rays are now 4-15 in the final game of the last 19 road series and 23-21 in all other road games. And once again the offense took a while to wake up, not getting their first hit until 2 outs in the 6th…JP Howell. In his last 6 save opportunities, Howell has blown 3.

THE TELLING: The Rays now trail the Red Sox by 4 games in the Wild Card, but remain 1.5 behind the Rangers.

SUNBURST PLAYER OF THE GAME: Scott Kazmir

DEVIL DOGS WEBTOPIA

  • Way back in February we learned that before signing Pat Burrell, the Rays offered Bobby Abreu a one-year deal for $7.5 million. Now Lee Jenkins of SI.com spoke with Abreu and Jenkins says it was a two-year deal for about $16 million. We are splitting hairs here, but maybe the second year was an option? That might make both reports kinda correct. By the way, Abreu eventually signed for 1-year and $5 million. He is hitting .307-12-84 with 26 stolen bases and plays defense. Just sayin’(thanks Tyler). [SI.com]
  • Last night was a rough one for umpires. [St. Pete Times]
  • Carl Crawford’s back was feeling much better yesterday and he still hopes to play Friday. [Tampa Tribune]
  • John Romano wonders aloud if the pressure of being the closer is getting to JP Howell. He has not been the same since giving up the game-winning home run in Seattle. [The Point After]
  • Rays the Stakes takes a closer look at Carlos Pena’s recent surge. [Rays the Stakes]
  • Minor Leaguer Darin Downs, who suffered a fractured skull after being hit by a line drive has been released from the hospital. [Rays Report]
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20 Comments

  1. Don says:

    Howell turns out to be the "goat"... rightfully so...major league hitters are not going to be fooled by 80 mph curve balls for long...tee off time!
    Plus he has a Rays pitchers problem of getting too upset when something goes wrong (home run)... and goes off walking everyone!!
    But..the offense HAS to take a lot for heat for poor performance...
    Longo hits into double play and Burrell strikes out...WHAT...no runs!
    We can't depend on home runs from Kapler to win games or it will another three months before that happens...
    Plenty of blame to spread around......but Howell gets "poster boy" treatment!

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    • Dustin says:

      In fairness to Howell, the "fourth ball" to Wells was, in fact, a strike, which should have ended the inning. That said, I think, and thought last night, that he should've pitched around Barajas (at the same time, it looked to me like he hit the spot Zaun set up for him pretty closely, so maybe it wasn't totally Howell's fault). Howell has saved fifteen games for the Rays this year, and his stuff, as you correctly point out, is not ideally suited for the role of closer. He's been pretty darn good, though, most of the time (2.52 ERA, 1.10 WHIP this year). Let's not pile on the guy.

      I submit Longoria, supposed team leader and definite league leader in GIDP's (24), who sent the first pitch he saw in the third right to the shortstop after Rzepczynski had walked three in a row, as more blame-worthy.

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      • Beth says:

        I share the frustration with Longoria. Everyone's allowed to have a slump, but he doesn't seem to have shown any real progress from last year. Add that a few too many defensive lapses....my concern is that he's bought into the trappings of celebrity (ESPY award banquets, etc) and has forgotten he's still got something to prove on the field.

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      • Charlie says:

        The hanging curve to Barajas caused me to scream at the TV the minute the ball left the bat, but I totally agree that the offense let the pitching staff down in this game. Especially Longoria. AL leading 24 DP victim. He is flying open again, his front shoulder and head coming through long before the bat. I think he's trying too hard to make something happen instead of trusting his instincts and natural swing. He goes into that act in cycles throughout the year. But his BA did nothing but drop in the 3 Toronto games. Poor Gabe Gross also looked very bad at the plate in this series. Good news is Burrell is hitting ropes pretty consistently. I'm sure McDonald's wrist has a nice bruise on it for the next few days.

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  2. Gus says:

    The announcers last night noted that Howell has pitched more innings than any other reliever in MLB the last 2 seasons. More than Romano's speculation that the "pressure" is getting to him, I think he may be just wearing out. He's been a total gamer for the Rays and the most important relief pitcher the last 2 seasons. But I'm not sure his effectiveness may be wearing off. Plus, it was the 7th time Toronto had seen him this season. When you work only on deception (as opposed to gas), this may not be that surprising.

    On the upside, Kazmir's return from the dead keeps hope alive. Need some Sept.1 call ups to bolster the fellas. They look a bit tired.

    Price to the bullpen.

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    • bobrittner says:

      Howell has been somewhat erratic the past 7 or so games but remains among the best relievers in baseball. He relies not just on deception but on great movement on all his pitches and generally excellent command. It is possible that he is a bit tired, although I don't know that his style would lead to that, and he actually had not pitched in 4 days before last night. Most pitchers go through rough patches during a season; Mariano Rivera is notorious for having at least one such stretch every year.

      I like Romano, but I think any speculation that Howell is succumbing to pressure is wild conjecture. Given how he has pitched in high leverage situations, the fact that he had that bad game in Seattle and subsequent failures is hardly evidence that he has suddenly lost confidence. Unless Topkin has reported something to Romano based on his locker room observations, I would discount such speculation as standard fare from mainstream columnists.

      As for Price in the bullpen, that is certainly possible were the Rays to get to the post-season, but not very likely or productive before then unless it is to limit his innings. Price is destined to be a starter, and the Rays need him to develop both his repertoire and stamina in that role, not set back his development by having him revert to the bullpen down the stretch. The bullpen has been good this year, not as good as last year, but still good, and I doubt the Rays will allow a failure here and there to panic them into sacrificing Price's development for very iffy short term gains.

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      • Beth says:

        I thought the whole "Price to the bullpen" discussion grew out of the observation that he probably won't get to make all his remaining starts this year without overshooting the cap on innings pitched the Rays (and other teams) often place on first year starters. So....IF Price is hitting his innings limit, and the choices are to let him get in a few more starts before shutting him down completely, vs. moving him to the bullpen and having him all season and (knock wood) in the playoffs, then the bullpen might make sense. And at the same time, the Rays would gain some bullpen depth.

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  3. Dirtbag Fan says:

    Let's not forget Zaun's mind-boggling steal attempt when the Rays had Rzepczynski on the ropes in the 6th...

    Gregg, you been hangin' out with BJ or somethin'???

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    • Brixology says:

      I assumed there was a missed call there. Certainly he didn't just go, right?

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      • Dirtbag Fan says:

        I didn't see what was going on from Foley or the dugout.

        Staats and Anderson didn't even comment on it, so we'll never know unless someone ask(ed) Joe... maybe they did, but I missed the postgame show.

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        • Ken Kandefer says:

          B.J. missed another hit and run sign last night just like the other day at the Trop when Gregg was also caught stealing. Foley just turned his back and walked away from B.J. and would not even look at him until he was back in the batters box.

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  4. Beth says:

    I'm a little surprised to read the details of Abreu's current deal -- I had assumed that the Rays didn't sign Abreu because he was too expensive. But looks from this report as though Abreu turned down the Rays to take a less lucrative deal. So -- now I'm offended! What wrong with Tampa Bay, Bobby?

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    • bobrittner says:

      It is possible that when he turned it down he thought he could do better after which the Rays moved on to Burrell and only then did Abreu discover the market for him was not competitive. At that point he may simply have been forced into the lesser deal.

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      • Ken Kandefer says:

        Abreu was never a serious consideration, because management wanted to address the 2008 weakness facing LHSP. The Rays wanted a RH batter. This is why we also did not consider Adam Dunn.

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      • cubfanraysaddict says:

        that seems about right, from what I remb. Abreu was seeking 3-4 years at 10+mil per.

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    • stunna says:

      Maybe he's mad that we thought Kevin Stocker was better than him, haha :)

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  5. David says:

    Our hitting last night was flat out awful. We did not deserve to win if it took us a 6th inning single by Pat to end a no hitter. Last night was the first night ever that I cursed at the TV during a Rays game. I'm always having the Joe Maddon zen like mind set during baseball games, but last night was just flat out rediculus.

    I'm not even going to use the excuse that they are still young. Last night, they hit like minor leaguers. You know what, I'm dissing minor leaguers just by comparing last night's hitting to that. Last night's game is a game we need to flat out dominate. I will never lose faith in the Rays, I still know, not think, know that the Rays will make the playoffs, but my faith is running very thin right now. I know that plenty of Rays fans share my mental situation right now. When your pitcher gives you 10 K's, six innings, and one run, and you have an All-Star calibur lineup. You need to win that game 10-1. I respect the Blue Jays, but we should be way better than them. Last night, fuck it I'm just going to stop typing.

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  6. Don says:

    Rays could be in the wildcard lead or "out of it" one week from tonight!
    09/03/2009 .... end of the Red Sox 3 game series at trop....
    all we really do is watch...and bitch about the stupid stuff the Rays do!

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