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: Carl Crawford. CC was 4-5 and stole a base. It was the fourth 4-hit game of the season for Crawford. He is now hitting .321 with a .376 OBP. Both would be career-highs…Ben Zobrist. Zorilla hit his 4th home run in the last 11 games and is hitting .356/.405/.525 in May…Evan Longoria. Dirtbag stole his 10th base and is now on pace to go 30-30 this year. He is also 26-28 for his career in stolen bases. One of the times he was caught was a pick-off.
THE BAD: James Shields. As Shields’ changeup goes, so goes the Rays when he starts. He threw his changeup 23 times yesterday and did not get a single swinging strike. In fact, he only had 5 swinging strikes on the day. Compare that to his last start versus the Red Sox in which he worked 8 innings and allowed 2 runs on 4 hits. In that game he had 4 swinging strikes on the changeup. The difference? Yesterday he was throwing the pitch a little slower (81.5 vs 82.6 mph) and as a result, the pitch had less vertical break (3.3 vs 4.6 inches). Or compare that to his May 15th start versus the Mariners in which he struck out 10. In that game, Shields had 9 swinging strikes on the changeup. His velocity (82.6) and vertical break (4.9) again showed where that pitch should be and where it wasn’t yesterday.
THE TELLING: Jason Bartlett was out of the lineup with a sore hamstring. He is not expected to play today either and is considered day-to-day…Willy Aybar made just his third start at DH versus a right-hander…As we mentioned previously, the Rays will wear a white cap today with the “TB” in stars and stripes.
WHERE THEY STAND: The Rays are 34-17, 3.5 games in front of the Yankees in the East and 4.5 games ahead of the Blue Jays in the Wild Card. After 51 games in 2008, the Rays were 31-20.
THE JUNKYARD DOGS WEBTOPIA…
- Matt Joyce has 8 games remaining on his rehab assignment and the Rays say he will play those games in Charlotte. After that is still undecided. [St. Pete Times]
- Joe Maddon on the Rays version of the safety squeeze: “We’ve stumbled onto a few things with it…They are [Don Zimmer‘s] ideas presented to us, and we’ve been able to morph it a little bit”…As we said previously, it is more aggressive than a traditional safety squeeze but it is not a full-fledged suicide squeeze. [St. Pete Times]
- James Shields talks about his poor outing (video). [The Heater]
- James Shields was not very happy Jayson Nix was “pimping the home run” that he hit off Shields. [Chicago Breaking Sports]
- John Romano says sending Dioner Navarro to triple-A might be the “slap in the face he needs,” and calls it “a matter of doing what’s best for the organization.” [St. Pete Times]
DOWN ON THE FARM…
- Check out “The Rundown” from Rays Prospects for boxscores and more detailed recaps. [Rays Prospects]
- DURHAM: 7 more shutout innings for Jeremy Hellickson who improved to 8-2 with a 2.49 ERA. He struck out 7 and walked none, improving his season totals to 67 and 12. That’s a 5.6 strikeout-to-walk ratio (3.0 is good)…Elliot Johnson hit a pair of home runs and had three hits…Chris Richard and Jose Lobaton also homered.
- MONTGOMERY: (postponed)
- CHARLOTTE: In game 1, Shane Dyer allowed 2 unearned runs in 6 innings with 5 strikeouts and no walks. He is now 2-1 with a 1.50 ERA in 3 starts since his promotion…In game 2, Nick Barnese allowed 3 runs (1 earned) in 5 innings. He struck out 7 and walked 4…Tim Beckham was 1-6 with a walk and 3 strikeouts in the double-header…Matt Joyce was 3-3 with a walk in the night-cap. He is 11-29 (.379) during his rehab stint with 5 doubles and 2 home runs.
- BOWLING GREEN: Jason McEachern threw 6 shutout innings with 5 Ks and 4 walks…Chris Murrill was 2-4 with his 19th stolen base. He is hitting .322.