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: Better Late Than Never. The Rays had only scored more than 4 runs twice this season, but scored 5 in the 8th and 8 runs in the final 3 innings. In one 8 batter span in the 8th, the Rays had 6 singles and a double. The big blow was Evan Longoria’s 2-run single to tie the game…Carlos Pena. El Gato’s 3-run shot in the 10th proved to be the game-winner. Earlier in the game, Pena flashed his gold glove when he left his feet and made a catch 3-rows deep down the right field line.

THE BAD: Randy Choate. After blowing the lead by giving up a 2-run HR (this time to a lefty) we half-expected Andrew Friedman to visit the mound to not only remove him from the game, but also from the roster…Over-Protection. One day after going 4-4, Carl Crawford did not start. Yes it was a lefty, but Crawford is an everyday player and it is only week 2. At this rate, Crawford will miss 20 games this year just due to managerial decisions…Rafael Soriano. It was a meaningless solo home run with a 3-run lead, but we are still waiting for Soriano’s first 1-2-3 outing. We are not worried. We are just waiting for him to hit his stride.

THE TELLING: Last night’s game featured two starting pitchers that were both drafted #4 in their respective drafts. We have to imagine that it is rare for top-5 picks to face each other…Brilliant move on the part of the Orioles to have a t-shirt giveaway the second week of April. Game time temp was 43°. Not to mention, the t-shirts were to be given to the first 10,000 fans, 15-and-over. 13,731 was the paid attendance, but there is no way 10,000 people were there last night.

DEVIL DOGS WEBTOPIA

  • Kelly Shoppach was placed on the DL with a sprained knee suffered during Saturday’s game. John Jaso has been recalled from Durham.
  • Leslie Anderson, the Cuban defector (not the pitcher, the other one) signed by the Rays last month must have finally gotten his Visa issues resolved. The Rays made his signing official yesterday and announced Anderson will report to extended spring training. Anderson can play first base and all three outfield positions.
  • Marc Topkin says Leslie Anderson will eventually be assigned to Charlotte or Montgomery and could be a September call-up. [St. Pete Times]
  • Here is some video of James Shields playing golf. The clip is a preview for “Inside the Rays” which will air this Sunday on Sun Sports at 4:30. [Fox Sports Florida]
  • Surprised we haven’t heard more about the possibility of Carl Crawford ending up in Houston next season. [Crawfish Boxes]
  • How about some “Longoriaisms.” [Sports Casualties]

DOWN ON THE FARM

  • Check out “The Rundown” from Rays Prospects for boxscores and more detailed recaps. [Rays Prospects]
  • DURHAM: Jeremy Hellickson allowed just 1 run in 6.1 innings, striking out 7 and walking 1. He allowed 4 hits, but only 1 in the first 6 innings. At one point he retired 14 straight…Dale Thayer picked up his 3rd save despite 2 hits and a walk in 1.1 innings…Fernando Perez was 1-4 with a double and an RBI…Matt Joyce went 0-4 with a strikeout…Dan Johnson was 2-4 with a home run…Hank Blalock did not play again.
  • MONTGOMERY: No game scheduled
  • CHARLOTTE: Chris Andujar allowed 2 runs in 4 innings. He walked 3 and did not strike out a batter…Matt Sweeney was 1-4 with a double.
  • BOWLING GREEN: Alex Colome allowed only 1 baserunner in 6 innings, a 2-out double in the 4th. He struck out 6…Tyler Bortnick had his second straight 3-hit game, going 3-4.
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31 Comments

  1. Amanda says:

    At this point, if I were Crawford, I'd be running away screaming from this team -- or, at least the manager. For all the good things Maddon does, it gets ruined by crap like this. If you want to rest Crawford's knees, how about doing it on an artifical turf game? Two weeks into the season ... these are grown men! They are perfectly capable of playing -- GASP! -- every game in a season!

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    • I think it was more about Crawford vs Matusz as opposed to giving him rest. Maddon didn't hesitate to CC in the game once Matusz was taken out.

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    • Beth says:

      I agree -- and I also don't see any evidence that the Rays were stronger down the stretch last season thanks to these period days of rest. And there's a day off Thursday this week....your every day outfielder should play every day!

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    • Amanda says:

      I'm sorry, but everyday players play every day. For example, Mark Teixeira played 162 games in 2005 for Texas. He batted .301, with 43 homers and 144 RBIs. He followed up next year by playing 162 games, batting .282 (still respectable for a power hitter), hitting 33 homers and driving in 110. That's what a player of Teixeira's caliber is supposed to do: Play every day.

      Please don't tell me that Crawford needs to be babied. If Crawford ends up with the Yankees next year, watch how many times he's "rested." It's an insult to Crawford's talent and standing with the team to jerk him out of the lineup.

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      • Just to be clear: Carl Crawford did play last night and Mark Texiera didn't play 162 games for the Yankees last year.

        As I said before, I don't think Maddon was resting CC as much as he was keeping him out versus Matusz. There's a big difference.

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      • ramedy says:

        And since 2006 Tex has not played every day.

        I don't remember if it was last night or the night before, but the Aflac trivia question during the game was about the longest current consecutive games played streak - it was Prince Fielder with 190-something games. That's a season and a few weeks. Just like pitchers don't throw 130 pitches every game, players don't play every day anymore. I'm not saying it's right; but I am saying that you can't pin this on Maddon as a thing he does.

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  2. The problem with Choate is that Maddon's trying to use him like he's JP Howell, when clearly he's not. As long as he keeps trying to fit that square peg into a round hole, you're going to see this over and over again. The Rays were able to overcome it against the Orioles bullpen, but they're not going to be able to overcome blown saves versus the Yankees and Red Sox!

    GET BETTER, JP! WE NEED YOU!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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  3. Joe D. says:

    Good for me: obviously the comeback, I felt as if it was just going to be one of those games where we just lay an egg...

    Bad for me: Maddon over valuing L/L and R/R match ups...not having CC start, then bringing in Choate (who's been struggling) to face Scott, when Wheeler was doing fine...

    Telling: week one down, 5-3, Burrell's spent the game on the bench twice, and hasn't picked up a glove once, Aybar has More HRs (1) than Burrell, and Blaylock is in Durham not playing...

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    • Beth says:

      Joe, I also smelled doom when Maddon pulled Wheeler for Choate. However, Wheeler is also quite capable of giving up that long ball, so there's certainly no guarantee that sticking with Wheeler would have led to a better outcome!

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  4. Beth says:

    The Good: Playing the Orioles. Can we play them every day?
    The bad: it's April and we've got two players on the DL? Oy. You know what I want from the Yankees? their training staff. They've got four key players in their mid-late 30s (Jeter, Posada, Petite, and Rivera -- actually I think Mo is 40) and no one is ever injured. JP Howell is 27 and he's got a tired shoulder in MARCH. Are the Yankees lucky; do they have a better training regiment, or do they use better (and harder to detect) PEDs?

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  5. Tone says:

    The bullpen and spotty hitting are not fun to watch, but the late inning comebacks are. The line up getting mixed up so much is getting old fast. Reid vs right handers and Sean vs left should be common. Ben in the outfield and Kapler on the bench is far more sane. Sitting CC is beyond silly, benching Burrell is terrific! Hopeful and scared. The Orioles are really bad so getting too excited is hard, sweeps are super helpful.

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    • Carey says:

      Ditto. The only platooning that should be happening right now is at 2nd . . . between Rodriguez and Brignac. I've always thought that Zobrist was a perfect fit as an outfielder despite all that time at SS (IMO: A SS should have the skills and athleticism to play every position outside C and P).

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  6. ramedy says:

    It's 10AM and I've already heard and read way too much about Crawford getting the day off. Seriously? Just because CC gets a day off after two weeks doesn't mean that "at this rate" he's going to get a day off every two weeks. And because he WILL get days off, wouldn't you rather they be in April against the Orioles and a lefty against whom he has no hits and 2 Ks (I know, small sample size) than in August against a team that matters? Not to say April doesn't matter - Lord knows the Rays know that after last season - but I think days off when nothing's wrong with a player might help prevent days off when something is wrong.

    Also, Maddon has clearly shown he's trying to see as many different variations of his lineup as possible early in the season. Peña already got a day off (no one freaked out about that, sheesh) to give Aybar a look at 1B; Kapler has played both corners of the OF; they gave Rodriguez a chance at batting 2nd last night, etc. If there's anything to maybe question here, it's what exactly you can learn from putting a player at a different position/lineup spot for one game.

    Of course you could be very cynical and say Crawford is getting more days off so he'll be in tip-top shape for a second-half trade. Now there's a reason to get worked up.

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    • I would think that if the Rays were working up toward a 2nd half trade of Crawford, they would be running him into the dirt. I've already gotten the impression that Maddon isn't going to coddle Soriano in any way. He's going to use him, use him, and use him.

      And I'm with you, I'm not making much out of CC's lack of start last night. I truly think Maddon didn't like Matusz vs Crawford. If he truly wanted to keep him fresh, why put him in late in the game?

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    • Well I certainly didn't think it would stir this much debate. And definitely not the worst decision Maddon has ever made. It just seems early to me. Why not sit him on turf? Or during a day game after a night game? Or before an off-day?

      As for Pena...to be fair his lefty-righty splits are much more pronounced than Crawford. And Pena's lefty was one of the best pitchers in baseball and a guy that broke his fingers strongly suggesting that Pena doesn't pick up his pitches very well.

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      • Did you notice Pena's finger protector last night? It was truly a robocop looking device. I still think Pena owes Sabathia an ass-kicking for that. During spring training, the Yankees announcers were actually blaming Pena for not getting out of the way of that pitch.

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  7. Kelley says:

    I thought Soriano looked the best yet last night so hopefully each game he'll keep getting better and better. Thankfully, the score wasn't 8-7 when he came in.

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    • KillaTapes says:

      I agree, he looked much more composed and his location was much better.

      I think if the score had been 8-7, Soriano would've hunkered down a bit. Seems to me like the kind of guy that gets amped according to the situation.

      He had 2 outs and a three run lead, I think he was just throwing strikes and if they hit a solo homerun (which they did obviously) than so be it. Can't score 4 runs with no one on base.

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  8. Joe D. says:

    I have no problem w/ CC getting time off, just would rather see him get nights at the trop off, since Crawford's had problems/complaints about the turf before, and its not that he got the night off, he just didn't come in till Matusz was out...

    I also have no problem with Maddon looking at different lineups, I just don't like seeing someone who's showing signs of getting hot riding the pine the next day.

    Beth, I think we're on the same page here, my first reaction was 'really, pull Wheeler now, just because of the match L/R match up', then it was 'well, I guess that's why you have a side arming lefty is for L/L matchups.' My next reaction was ' $1*¥, he gave up the homerun, should have left Wheeler in...'

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  9. Justin says:

    I'm a little concerned that we are still having serious problems with lefties--and in this case, a lefty we just saw last week. I would be encouraged to see the Rays hit better against lefties as the season wears on.

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  10. Thrill says:

    I'm supremely pi$$ed at JP Howell. My gut tells me DUDE didn't take his off-season routine seriously and while he was working out with his wife and Dorothy Hamill, the rest of the Rays were getting ready for a run at a championship. And now he's got an arm that's not ready for ML season.

    His 6-week loss will cost us the 5 games that we need to take the Wild Card. You write that down. That bullpen (other than Soriano) w/o healthy Howell smells of a pre-Sternberg stinky stinkpot bullpen.

    Cormier, Choate, Ekstrom, Sonny, ehhh??? Balfour is too erratic, Wheeler is okay, but VERY dicey some nights. There's just not much there. Howell was money and was the key link to the closer. I'm VERY down on DUDE.

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    • I wouldn't be too quick to blame Howell for Howell's strength problems. I know joe alluded to his off-season conditioning, but I would suggest his use last year (and the World Baseball Classic) contributed. Don't forget, they shut him down late last year because his arm was getting tired. They also planned on keeping his workload light in Spring Training.

      I think that Howell will be fine and the Rays are trying to get him ready for a 2nd half push. My biggest concern is that he won't be ready in May or that he'll come back and get knocked around because he's not 100%.

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    • Beth says:

      I'm unhappy too, but what exactly do you think he did to land himself in this spot? If he showed up overweight and out of breath I'd agree with you -- that would be a sign that he didn't keep up with his conditioning. But what could he have done since last October to end up with a tired arm in March? Did his workouts with Dorothy Hamill involve lifting her with his pitching arm?

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      • Thrill says:

        I don't have any facts, I just don't think Howell takes his job as a professional all that seriously. And I like Howell. He's freaking money when he's on. It's that laid back Cali/Dude/Surfer attitude that make me wonder how hard he worked to get back in shape.

        -- He pitched three innings in WBC last year and I think the teams started about a week early in 2009 versus normal. So I'm not buying that affecting THIS year.

        -- I'll give him a pass on his arm "tiring" at the end of last year. That's understandable, with the 2008 season and then closing in 2009. I'm fine with that.

        -- But they also put him on the shelf in September, so he had a month head start on the 09/10 offseason versus everyone else (Wheeler/Balfour, etc.)

        -- Dude could have rested his arm for a full four or five months before starting whatever it is he's doing NOW to get ready for late May. He could've started THIS strengthening program on 1/1/10 with a rested arm (or even 2/1/10) and been ready for opening day.

        -- Maybe Rays are partly to blame or maybe his arm NEVER was going to be ready regardless of the offseason program, but it seems like with the right work ethic, program and attitude, there was plenty of time to get ready. Balfour and Wheeler are ready. They've pitched nearly as much over the same stretch.

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  11. Alex says:

    You clearly don't understand that injuries don't always heal quickly do you? Some guys heal quicker than others. Look at Johan he came back from Tommy John surgery very quickly. Josh Johnson took a bit longer. As much as we have used Howell (don't discount the number of times he's had to warm up either when he didn't come in) it isn't really a surprise that his shoulder may still be weak.

    It bothers me that our two lefty specialists can't get the job done. What exactly is the point of having Kapler and Choate if they can't hit or get lefties out respectively. They are both useless against righties.

    Why exactly did Maddon remove Balfour last night? This is why he's a dumb manager. What exactly did he accomplish or gain by pulling someone that got an out and threw three pitches for strikes? You want to know why our bullpen can't succeed? Because when they do something productive Maddon pulls them because he thinks he's smarter than the other team. I hate the way he over thinks every aspect. I cannot wait until he's gone

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    • Thrill says:

      I don't think I'm QUITE ready to throw the best manager in Rays history to the curb JUST yet. You people really need to get used to his quirky moves and get over it or follow another team, cause it's NOT going to change. He's got his own style and methods and it's NOT the standard MLB manager's handbook. Get over it. So far it's worked pretty well overall, I'd say.

      As for Howell, I've already allowed that MAYBE his arm just wasn't EVER going to be ready, but I'm just not buying that excuse personally. He was never "Injured" per se. Just logged a lot of innings and his arm got tired. And they shut him down.

      Further, even Howell himself has said that he was confronted a few years ago by Shields about his work ethic and drive and was challenged BY Shields to achieve more (Go watch "Inside the Rays: James Shields").

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      • To be honest, I guess we'll really never know whether it was Howell's fault, the team's fault, nobody's fault, or a combination.

        What I do know is that the Rays really miss Howell right now. The sooner he comes back, the better the Rays bullpen will be.

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        • Thrill says:

          Fair point. I don't think this pen can bang heads with the big boys for very long. We need to score a LOT more runs than we are currently averaging until JP gets back.

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  12. Don says:

    You know the biggest problem I see with CC not playing yesterday...
    He told the media "he didn't know anything about getting the day off"
    What?? They didn't tell him?? When?? Sounds like a rough way to treat your best player?
    Then CC's reply "oh well ...I'll just do what they tell me to do (for now)!
    I don't like that attitude on either part!

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  13. Amanda says:

    Comical is a little strong. Unlikely, yes. But I bet you that if they do find a way to make the price right for both sides, Crawford would gladly go to Houston. He even said in a recent interview that he wouldn't give the Rays a "hometown discount" because the Bay area isn't his hometowon -- Houston is. I don't think he meant to say that he's willing to give Houston a hometown discount, but it's also not outside of the realm of possibilities.

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  14. Amanda says:

    I take it back ... I hadn't been paying much attention to the Astros. I didn't realize how bad they've become. Oops. lol

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