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: Shades of 2008. We just have a good feeling about this team. Last year the Rays never win that game. Last night we were never worried. And Carl Crawford came through in his walk season with a walk-off 1-out, 2-run double to turn a loss into win #1…James Shields. James the Greater gives up home runs. Always has, always will. But he usually does a good job of keeping runners off base in front of the bombs. And last night it was 3 solo home runs as the only runs allowed…Catchers. Dioner Navarro didn’t exactly rake last night, but he did have 2 hits off of right-handed pitchers, which may or may not have equaled his 2009 total. And Kelly Shoppach pinch-hitting in the 9th and facing a lefty nearly ended the game when he missed a 2-run HR by about 6 inches…Defense. It started with BJ being BJ running down a flyball to the wall in center and saving a run and included Evan Longoria gunning a runner down at the plate to save another run in the 9th…Evan Longoria. Spring training doesn’t mean anything? Longo turned up the pop in his bat the last two weeks and it translated to a monster HR last night…Pat Burrell. He had some rough moments last night, striking out twice and killing a rally in the 6th by grounding into a double-play in the 6th with 2 on and no outs. But he also had a double and an excellent first at bat that lasted 10 pitches and included 5 foul balls.

THE BAD: Baserunning. We are all for being aggressive on the basepaths, especially with 2 outs, but why was Dioner Navarro sent home in the 3rd inning with little chance of scoring and Evan Longoria due up? And yes, Pat Burrell scored, but let’s hope he doesn’t run through too many stop signs in which he probably would have been thrown out with a good throw…Percivalian…Rafael Soriano came on in the 9th to keep the game close and almost failed miserably. 3 of the 6 batters he faced reached base and only a great defensive play by Evan Longoria kept the O’s from increasing their lead…Kevin Kennedy. We forgot how much we did not miss Kennedy.

THE TELLING: Evan Longoria’s HR (video) was the third longest (473ft) in the history of The Trop (Vinny Castilla 478ft, Jonny Gomes 474ft) and only the second to land in the left field Party Deck (Castilla)…Randy Choate indeed got to face a righty in a high-leverage situation getting Miguel Tejada to ground into a double-play to end the 7th inning…Kelly Shoppach will start today and possibly tomorrow. No decision has been made on who will start at second. Ben Zobrist will play second base tomorrow against the lefty.

DEVIL DOGS WEBTOPIA

  • MLB has changed the blackout restrictions for the FOX Saturday games. Now, if the first FOX game begins at 3:10pm ET, any Rays games that begin at 6:05 or later will be televised. This is significant as the Rays typically start games with a postgame concert at 6:10 and in years past those games were blacked out. If the FOX game starts at 4:10 or later, a Rays game starting earlier than 7:05 will be blacked out. [The Biz of Baseball]
  • Is the city of St. Pete in the early stages of planning a new stadium for the Rays? If so, the Rays may not know about it. [Shadow of the Stadium]
  • Stuart Sternberg said that he agrees with most of what was written in the ABC report about a new stadium. [St. Pete Times]
  • Nevin Ashley has left the Biscuits to tend to a family emergency. [Biscuit Crumbs]
  • The Rays announced that Bright House Networks will air 63 Rays games in Spanish on channels 154 and 900 in Tampa and channels 130 and 613 in Central Florida.
  • A look at how some Rays bloggers feel the Rays will perform the first week of the season. [Tampa Bay Rays Fan]
  • Aubrey Huff is one strange cat. [7th Inning Stache]

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29 Comments

  1. Mitch Lubitz says:

    Loved the game last night! But there was only ONE out when Crawford got his game-winning hit.

  2. MikeD says:

    Hey Prof – great game. A lot of the things I love about baseball happened last night. Are you thinking of doing the Sunburst Player of the Game or something similar this year?

  3. Rich says:

    I’m not so sure baserunning was that bad of a thing ….

    Yeah Navi was thrown out at the plate on a good throw and it killed a rally. BUT more often than not that “good throw” doesnt happen and you have a very good chance of adding a run. BTW over the years I have had many love-hate moments over Foley for the same reasons (but that is another story).

    As far as Burrell running thru a stop sign is concerned ….
    At first I was upset about him heading home (even though he got away with it and we got a run). But the more I thought about it I was glad he did it. For the first time in 2 seasons I really felt that his head was really in the game and he was trying (although maybe a bit too hard here) to make a difference. I may be reading too much into a single event but I have to tell you I gained a new level of respect for him last night.

    • That’s a fair point.

      • TheRevTy says:

        I read a comment that said in both of those situations, you force the defense to make the play. The odds of a good throw, a clean catch, and a good tag are on the side of the runner.

        What is curious is how Foley handled the situations in an opposite fashion, despite being nearly identical situations.

        • Your last point is an interesting one. Did Foley get gunshy after the first one? I almost wonder if he got both wrong (even ignoring results). If you are just going to send one of those two runners it was probably better to send Burrell. Late in the game you never know when you will get another shot. But early on there is less desperation not to mention Longoria is due up. While it is still less than 50% Longo drives in the run, that is his job.

          • Brixology says:

            I agree. Foley always gets it wrong. It’s uncanny. You noted two key differences: the time in the game and the fact that Longoria would have come up with the bases loaded if Navi gets held up. The other major difference is that Markakis was throwing from shallow right against Navi. And charging. That’s much different from a medium depth throw from Felix Pie. Foley kills me a little every time he has to make a decision. We were laughing in the stands that Burrell had stopped on the way through to give Foley the finger.

            On an unrelated note, I sat across from the Orioles wives last night and it may be time to start an opponents WAGs post. Brian Roberts’ wife is something else.

        • Alex says:

          But both times the runners went home they were our worst base runners on the team sans Aybar.

  4. Alex says:

    You thought Burrell was good last night? I love your website, but respectfully, your kidding right? That double play he grounded into killed what was shaping up to be a huge rally and the fans let him know about it. What about the 9th inning? Oh yea another strike out. There was nothing good about Burrell last night. Yea thanks for the double, but anyone else on the bench could of done that as well. Nothing is going to change with Burrell and we are going to continue watching him fail because Maddon loves players that are awful (Jae Seo, Navi, Percy, Burrell, Thomas Perez) and the RFO made a $16 million mistake that they won’t just suck up and admit it.

    • @Alex RE: Pat the Bat / Instead of focusing on the negative, focus on the positive. The double and run scored was a big improvement over last year. And if you have any doubt about his heart… running through the sign to score was a sure sign this guy’s playing hard.

      And make no mistake if PtB can be the PtB the Rays thought they were signing, than he’s their best option at DH. I have no probem w/ the front office and Joe Maddon giving him the chance to earn his paycheck. Now, if it’s May and he’s batting .182… then, we’ll talk.

      • Chris says:

        Agree with Weber and Prof on this one. Last year Burrell doesn’t work the first AB that much. The double was also nice to see. I’m not a big fan of running through the stop sign, but a little opening day exuberance isn’t that bad.

  5. Justin says:

    Prof, what you wrote about our closer is what I texted my friends last night… Soriano is just Percival with a different skin tone. And earrings.

    Do we have any reason to believe that he will settle down? Is this how he pitches normally?

    • I’m sure last night was a good microcosm of what we’ll see from Soriano this year. When it comes to closers, I find it better to focus on the Ends rather than the Means. If you’re looking for style points when it comes to closing games, you’re going to be sorely disappointed.

      • Justin says:

        Yeah, watching the game now, and the “Ends”, are nothing great.

        The Ends justify the Means is a bad philosophy for pretty much any arena.

        • Justin says:

          End game–no strikeouts, and we win–good enough, but way too close.

          Remind you of another closer we had?

    • I’m going to give him the benefit of the doubt for now. A lot of closers struggle in non-save situations. They pitch on so much adrenaline that it might be hard to get up for a situation where the game is not on the line. I think he’ll be fine.

      • MikeD says:

        Balfour was up in the pen when Soriano threw seven balls in a row – think that might have motivated Rafael a little bit

  6. Mark says:

    Hahaha, couldn’t agree more with you Prof regarding Kennedy. He’s terrible. I had the luxury of switching feeds so I watched the game with the Orioles commentary just to avoid Kennedy.

    Anyway, great game. Lots of positive things to take from the game. BJ had a beautiful catch in CF and took some good hacks at the plate.

    I agree with Rich about Burrell… atleast he showed signs of life even if it was at the expense of hustling right through a stop sign at third.

    And S-Rod and Shoppach getting big hits and setting the table for Carl in the ninth was clutch. How huge would a Shoppach pinch hit HR have been there??

    And pitching, although not perfect, was solid enough to keep us in the game and that’s really all you can ask for!

    GREAT WIN in front of a sold out crowd.

  7. KillaTapes says:

    What an exciting game! Looking forward to a thrilling season more than ever. I don’t care what anyone says, Burrell just has a different look this year. More focused, more eager. Even during the celebration I was thinking that I can’t recall seeing Pat that excited ever last season. Give the guy a chance, I have a feeling he’s going to fill those shoes.

  8. Justin says:

    Anyone else thrilled with Shoppach’s at bat in the 9th?

  9. Alex says:

    You guys are excited over one double from Burrell? He’s supposed to be a run producer and in the time when we needed him most he grounded into a double play. Are you guys really so desperate to see him succeed that we are just going to forget everything crappy about him?

    • I’m going to celebrate progress (double/run scored) instead of focusing on the negative (2 strikeouts/GIDP). I’m always going to give a Ray the benefit of the doubt because I’d much rather see him succeed than face the alternative.

  10. Kelley says:

    I love how you said, “Last night we were never worried.” That is so true. There was never a doubt in my mind. I can’t wait for tonight!

  11. Erik Lurz says:

    When Magraine went to MLB TV I thought, say it ain’t so Joe. After a couple of games with Kennedy I was ready to drive through the Lincoln Tunnel to Jersey where the MLB TV studios are, kidnap Magraine, and bring him back to St. Pete so I didn’t have to listen to his bland “color commentary” again. The tone of his voice alone is enough to put me asleep, and the team of Staats and Magraine was unbeatable. I for one enjoy the broadcasts when they have Brian Anderson in the booth, bring him in permanently and leave Kennedy to his satelite radio show.

    On the Pat Burrell issue, I was there for all the pre-game warm-ups and batting practice for a spring training game, and I have to say he was vocal, enthusiastic, and he seemed to be well liked by the other guys. An example of said enthusiasm – After Zobrist hit two homers in his first two swings in batting practice Burrell literally ran back into the box to one-up him, and did, knocking three out of the park. From the little I saw, his attitude seems changed. I won’t rush to judge him, I’ll wait to see what he’s got.

    • Gus says:

      Well liked? Except by the clubhouse leader (CC) who had it out with him in Baltimore last September. That led to Henderson in the Trib calling PB a “clubhouse cancer” in October. He makes $9M and the Rays can’t re-sign CC/Pena long term — you bet there is resentment about him, his attitude and his lack of production.

      • KillaTapes says:

        You’re referring back to last season when the point of this post was clearly to illustrate a change in Burrell this season.

  12. Alex says:

    The Rays just need to hire Brian Anderson full time

    • Beth says:

      I find both Kevin Kennedy and Rich Herrera utterly inexplicable choices. I love the Rays and I’m generally impressed with the front office, but holding on to these two seems to scream “we are really not ready for the Majors.” I can’t believe there is no one better out there.

      Now that there are some Spanish language TV broadcasts I may switch to that (no, I don’t speak much Spanish but I’ll take my chances).

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