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: The Story. After Dallas Braden retired all 27 Rays that he faced, the story wasn’t about the Rays. The story was about how Braden had somehow been vindicated and made Alex Rodriguez look even more like an idiot. Nobody likes being no-hit. But everybody likes it when A-Rod looks like an idiot.

THE BAD: The Same Story. Seven of the nine batters in the Rays lineup yesterday have now been on the losing end of a perfect game twice. That is two more than 99.9%* of the players in the history of Major League Baseball.

THE TELLING: Thanks to the Red Sox win over the Yankees last night, the Rays are still THE BEST TEAM IN BASEBALL. And the Rays are still on pace to win 117 games. Of course, they are also on pace to be no-hit 6 times this year…Joe Maddon has now been on the losing end of 4 no-hitters, 3 of which were perfect games…JP Howell will throw batting practice for the first time on Friday.

WHERE THEY STAND: The Rays are 22-9, a half game ahead of the Yankees in the East and 4 games ahead of the Blue Jays in the Wild Card. After 31 games in 2008, the Rays were 16-15.

* Estimated
DEVIL DOGS WEBTOPIA
  • Don’t forget, if you want to ask Matt Garza (or his chin super-pubes) a question, here is your chance. Questions need to be in by tonight. [Rays Index]
  • If you missed it yesterday, here is a look at how hitters respond after being on the losing end of a perfect game. [Rays Index]
  • Also, if you were off the grid this weekend, here is Evan Longoria’s craptastic hairdo. [Rays Index]
  • Willy Aybar will now be the starting DH versus lefties and will share duties with Pat Burrell versus righties. We will have more on this later. [St. Pete Times]
  • Cuban defector Leslie Anderson will join high-A Charlotte today and could be a September call-up for the Rays. [The Heater]
  • Marc Topkin spoke with Scott Kazmir about facing the Rays for the first time on Tuesday. [St. Pete Times]
  • We all know Rocco Baldelli occasionally takes batting practice with the Rays. But when the Rays are on the road, he is working with Rays minor leaguers. Last week he was in Bowling Green and the Bowling Green Daily News spoke with Rocco. [BG Daily News]
  • Peter Gammons calls the Rays rotation “the best rotation in the game” and “one of the best stories of the first five weeks.” [MLB]
  • Randy Choate has rebounded well from a rough start to the season. [DRays Bay]
  • A very, very in-depth look at Jeremy Hellickson’s loss. [Triangle Offense]
  • Where are they now? 2009 first-round pick LeVon Washington. [USA Today]
  • Joe Maddon is not concerned about Carlos Pena’s batting average. [St. Pete Times]
  • When the Pirates acquired Aki Iwamura, they weren’t worried about his surgically repaired knee. Maybe they should have been. [MLB]

DOWN ON THE FARM

  • Check out “The Rundown” from Rays Prospects for boxscores and more detailed recaps. [Rays Prospects]
  • DURHAM: Jeremy Hellickson picked up his first loss, getting touched for 5 runs in 5 innings on 8 hits and 2 walks. He struck out 3…Desmond Jennings made his first start in 2 weeks and went 1-5…Hank Blalock hit his 4th home run and added a double in 4 at bats…Fernando Perez tripled in 2 at bats.
  • MONTGOMERY: (no game scheduled)
  • CHARLOTTE: (no game scheduled)
  • BOWLING GREEN: Kyle Lobstein dropped to 1-2 after giving up 5 runs in 5 innings on 9 hits and a walk. He struck out 5…Ty Morrison was 4-5 with a triple and 2 RBI…Tyler Bortnick was 3-5 with 2 doubles.

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34 Comments

  1. Sarah says:

    Professor, I appreciate your statistical analysis below, and this post,but I confess I’m surprised. Last year after the Buerhle no-no you were really despondent. This year you are taking it much more in stride. Is it just because, at the end of the day, the Rays are still in first place? I know I was actively rooting for the Sox last night because ending the day in first was one way to minimize the sense of humiliation I was feeling.

    On other issues: maybe the demotion of Pat Burrell to part time DH is paving the way to his release? If they are really going to be platooning at DH, with Aybar hitting against lefties, why not give Blalock a chance to hit against RHP?

    • Cork Gaines says:

      Last year, perfect game was just the ultimate loss in a season full of bad losses. The team had been underperforming for a while and every time it looked like they were about to get on a roll, they would blow a 6-run lead or get leave 6 runners in scoring position with less than 2 outs. After the perfect game, everybody wanted to say/write about how it was “just one game.” my point was that it wasn’t just one game. That team had a lot of problems and they just happened to hit rock bottom on that day.

      This year’s team does have some problems (remember they were almost no-hit by Sabathia). But they are playing well enough in other areas (starting pitching mostly) that they are usually able to overcome the deficiencies.

      In short, I had no hope for last year’s team. I still have a lot of hope this year.

      That being said, yesterday was still very embarrassing.

      • Good point about starting pitching overcoming some deficiencies. I think you’re right in that this Perfect’d is a little easier to take because the Rays are still the best team in baseball.

      • Indiana Rays Boy says:

        CC Sabathia was throwing a no hitter thru 8 innings with two outs before Rays catcher Kelly Shoppach broke it up with a base hit. Very humiliating for a team got no hit perfect game for two years in a row.

  2. Don says:

    No use reviewing individual performances…they ALL sucked!
    But as I team…let me Quote Longoria from Sat.’s bad lose…
    “WE can’t win every game…but tomorrow (Sun) we will see where we’re at resolve wise”… Well Longo your RESOLVE sucks!
    IF you win the Division…playoffs….you will be REMEMBERED as the (perfect) LOSERS!

    • Beth says:

      Don, now that you’ve written them off, I hope you stop watching them and stop posting here.

      • Don says:

        I would stop posting here but YOU wouldn’t have anyone to give you an original thought or something to think about…I know thats hard for you but TRY!

  3. Amanda says:

    *Raises her hand* I was off the grid this weekend in a beach house in Charleston. lol When I go on vacation, I do my best to stay off the Internet because most of the time when I’m at home, I’m glued to my computer.

    Cork, thank you SO MUCH for validating my feelings after I heard it was Dallas Braden who pitched the perfect game. I’ve never felt so ambivalant about no-hit against a team of mine in my life. The next team Braden faced after what A-Rod said about him would have met the same buzz saw. Something tells me that even if he were facing the 1939 Yankees, he would have mowed them down, and could have done it Bugs Bunny-style (“Now pitching, Bugs Bunny … First base, Bugs Bunny … second base, Bugs Bunny …).

    You’re right. Unlike last year’s team, the Rays still have the best record in baseball. And A-Rod was handed his own ass on a silver platter, served with a side of crow and his own foot to munch on as well, especially since Braden’s perfect game came against the team that is *STILL* better in the standings than the Yankees, so no excuse like, “It came against the Orioles.”

    And I’m sorry … unlike some other person who posted, if this team actually goes on to win the World Series, they’ll be the champions with an interesting side note. Maybe the Baseball Gods will appreciate they Rays sacrifice for Braden (and making A-Rod look more like a tool than he ever has before) and reward them with the championship!

    (Or, it might send the Rays into a tail-spin … but I’m being optimistic. lol)

    • Beth says:

      I hear you, Amanda, although at one point as the no-no became more likely I was thinking maybe the Rays should all start walking across the mound — anything the get the guy rattled.

      • @Beth They couldn’t walk across the mound because they never got close to getting on base. LOL

      • Amanda says:

        Beth, the other thing I’d just thought of is that I’d probably feel different if I actually had a chance to watch the game. (The first time I heard anything was when I had a chance to put on a sports radio station after dropping off my grandmother and my aunt, and heard that he was perfect through 7.) Truthfully, I did say a string of “perfect, perfect, no-hitter, no-hitter” right after I heard that to try to jinx him. lol But since the jinx didn’t happen, this is just that rare instance that I don’t feel dispondant after being no-hit.

        @Michael … I just had an image of all of the Rays infielders (minus the catcher) and outfielders coming off the field after the bottom of the 8th via the mound, like they were attracted to it like a magnet. lol

      • Amanda says:

        Beth, please just ignore that other poster’s comments and don’t reply to him. You’re only encouraging him. He has a right to say his opinions (and I mean that whole-heartedly), but arguing against his ignorant blather only emboldens him.

        • Alex says:

          I hope you realize that the game after the A-Rod incident we played Braden and the A’s. We torched him for 6 runs in 4 innings. So that “buzzsaw” that was Dallas Braden was broken.

          • Amanda says:

            Alex, A-Rod’s comment that Braden was a nobody came a only a few days ago, after we faced him.

  4. Sublime says:

    I was a bit in the dumps after yesterdays game, but it is only one game. Plus, maybe it’s a wake-up call to the team to not take things for granted.

  5. Thadw says:

    If Braden pitches a perfect game against the Rays and no fans are there to see it, does it count? Shout out to the “209″. All 15 of you that live in the 209 area code that came to the game (for half price tixx I might add) thanks for your support. At least there’s one team in MLB that has worse attendance issues than the Rays.

    A couple things:
    – Agreed with the above. This perfecto d/n feel nearly as gut-wrenching at the Beurhle game last year. The Beurhle perfecto was a gut-wrenching exclamation point on a disappointing season. If the Rays fold up and finish the roadtrip 4-5 getting swept by Halos then maybe I’ll change my mind.

    – I don’t think that’s gonna happen though. I think Rays will use it as motivation and bounce back against Piniero tonight. Then they get to face Kaz on Tuesday night. Then they get their hands on TBD on Wednesday night. He sukks too :). With Garza, Niemann and Price lined up, I think they will respond well and finish the roadtrip strong. Whatever minimal adversity they’ve had this season they’ve limited to two games at a time.

    – Mark it down, S-Rod will be in the lineup tomorrow night against Kaz. I’m betting he has a big game. And the Rays will mash his two-pitch repertoire all over Anaheim.

    – Silver lining: Sox finally slowed down Yanks, keeping Rays in first. Bad news: Jays are red hot and only four back.

  6. Tone says:

    Would be cool if someone could pinpoint the weakness beyond a soft tossing lefty in a day game that has them fail so perfectly. This is no fluke, many of us could see this coming. It very well could happen again. They have been VERY capable of being no hit this and last year. Feast or famine offense has now started to reap and you all can make yourself feel better by saying it is just a loss but deep down you know this is MUCH more than that. Not the hitting coaches fault, so firing the last one was stupid and is proven now. This is something real and to think other teams won’t be able to exploit this extreme weakness is naive. I think there is a HUGE flaw in the approach driven by Maddon and the culture, but I don’t know too much so it could be anything. But there is something wrong and it needs to be addressed.

  7. Alex says:

    I blame Longo’ stupid haircut. First game he has it he loses his hitting streak. Next game we lose and he goes 0-fer. Next game we lose and they all go 0-fer. Just shave your head Longo. You look like an idiot

  8. ramedy says:

    The Pittsburgh Pirates haven’t had a winning season since 1992; in that time, they’ve never been no-hit.

    If it seems improbable that the Rays have been PGed twice in less than a year, while the lowly Pirates have always managed at least one hit in 18 years of misery, that’s because it is. If we get PGed the next two games, then we might have a problem. Until then, just consider it a very embarrassing oddity.

    I’m all for gut feelings, but gut feelings are just the first step to finding something much more definable. Until someone can actually tell me hwhy this game should make me believe the Rays are doomed, I’m just calling your gut feeling a bad case of gas

    Also count yourself lucky if you watched this and the Buehrle games last year – considering there have been only 17 of these games in modern history (screw those two ancient PGs), that’s a good story to tell even if it was your team losing both times.

    • Cork Gaines says:

      I would never say one game is evidence of impending doom. But the big thing I am concerned about is the lack of consistency. And yes, all players go through ups and downs, but it seems (has anybody ever looked at this statistically?) that younger/inexperienced players are more prone to larger fluctuations in performance and those fluctuations last longer.

      And with so many young players on the team, if the slumps do linger longer than a more veteran player, then there is a better chance that slumps from different players will overlap. And when slumps overlap, we see games like this weekend.

      So this may be an inherent flaw in the way this team is constructed and something that we are just going to have to live with. But it could also come back to haunt the team in a very crucial situation if luck of the draw has a bunch of slumps overlapping in September or October.

      • Thadw says:

        That’s a plausible thesis worth watching over the summer. Remember back even to 2008, they were hot as a firecracker thru the 7th inning of game 5 of the ALCS. They were up 7-0 on the Red Sox in what would’ve been a clinching Game 5 and they never really hit after that for the rest of the postseason. Of course, they lost Game 5, but ended up squeaking out Game 7 of the ALCS on dominant pitching and promptly hit .212 in the WS. They CAN be streaky and maybe youth plays a part. It probably does.

        Youth and manageable contracts are the primary reason the Rays are ABLE to compete at this level. It may be that the haters just have to accept that or go root for a team that can buy it’s way out of slumps. Here’s to hoping that whatever the cause, this slump isn’t a prolonged one.

        I think they’ll bounce back tonight and be motivated against Kaz tomorrow night to get back on the winning track.

      • ramedy says:

        Now that I can completely agree with. I think it was RaysRenegade that called it “feast or famine” and that is what it can feel like with this team, both in detail (shelling Braden one minute, PGed the next) and in a broader sense (2008 vs. 2009)

        I’m not sure that young player inconsistency is statistically provable, but it sure seems like something. And if it is indeed something, it will be something Rays fans will almost always have to deal with. Of course as long as our feast/famine ratio keeps hovering around .700 like our winning percentage, we’ll be fine.

        One thing though – on this team, it’s not just the young guys who tend to be volatile, performance-wise. Carlos Peña has always been pretty streaky (at least as far as I can remember), and Pat Burrell definitely built a streaky reputation in Philly. Of course being streaky is one of those negative traits that will make a player affordable enough for the Rays to consider them, so again, we might have to learn to deal with it.

  9. Indiana Rays Boy says:

    Rays got no-hitted for 2 years in a row. This is getting out of hand. Maddon should be accountable for this embarrassment. Enough of this Kapler playing 3 or 4 times a week and Navarro swinging like a pitcher. Just play Jaso and Brignac everyday; that is it. Alongside, drop Zobrist down in the 6 hole. Thank the starting pitching for carrying this team; this team could be worse. What ever happen to Jaso playing the A’s for 2 games? According to Maddon, he mention that he was going with the hot hand. Navi does not have the hot hand. They better take two out of three from the Angels who are struggling right now. ESPN First Take should had interviewed Kapler/Maddon about being embarrassed for two years in a row instead of David Price.

    • MJ says:

      this whole kapler thing is getting out of hand, i dont care about the “numbers”. And yes, Zobi needs to be in the 5 spot.

  10. Mike says:

    I don’t know if I’d call them the best team in baseball right now even though they have the best record. Hope they can turn it around tonight with Garza.

  11. Don says:

    you need to belong to the Joe Maddon cult of eternal optimist….everything will be ok…its ONLY one loss..you know you have
    heard them all….I was just waiting for:
    “We just couldn’t get’er done….but I really like the effort”…
    Please face reality…and do something…your job!

  12. Thadw says:

    Look, yesterday was frustrating, humiliating, embarrassing. Not fun. Do the Rays have some weaknesses? Sure. But every team does. Even the BEST teams have off days. The Rays weaknesses aren’t any worse than any other team. They absolutely struggle against soft tossing lefties that have GREAT control on a given day. Okay, well so be it. There aren’t THAT many soft-tossing lefties that pitch with THAT kind of command. Hat’s off to Braden. If a handful of those line drives hit yesterday find a hole, who knows what happens?

    I firmly believe the hitting will come around. And even with their recent struggles they have STILL scored the second most runs in MLB. Zobrist will come around. Pena won’t hit .180 all year. Crawford won’t go 0 for his next 12. Longo will hit. It’s a long season and the glass is still half full for me.

  13. Tone says:

    I did not say they sucked, I said that there is an obvious pattern here that cannot be ignored. Remember how many times they have nearly been no-hit this season and last? Something is wrong. Yes winning is the best thing to cure worry but the fact that no other team has had this happen in such a short period is super freakish. And most of you people that get pissed when people vent their worry are homers worse than Staats. Look at the obvious, they have only been getting hits and runs later in games. This pattern is fatal over the long haul. How about that HUGE losing streak last year after Kaz was traded? This team sometime gives up or has a god awful approach that makes them suck. Kissing Maddon and Andrew’s ass all the time has to leave a little bit of a bad taste on your lips at some point.

  14. Kelley says:

    Since when is a fan being an optimist a bad thing?? What fan thinks their team is going to be terrible the rest of the season because of 1 bad loss? You’re obviously not a real fan. Do you think Braden is the only LHP we’ve faced all year? Have you forgotten we crushed Buerhle a few weeks ago and others? Again, to quote others, why are you still on this site? Why don’t you post on the red sox nation site or yankees?

  15. Beth says:

    Kelley, I was warned (above) to just ignore Don, and I’ll pass that advice along to you as well.

  16. Don says:

    Being an optimist is not a bad thing…only being blind to problems…
    Reminds me of the eternal optimist who fell off the 20 story building,
    A guy stuck his head out of the 10th floor as he was falling and ask the guy how he was doing….the guy said Ok so far…..

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