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: Raising The Bar. The great thing about Evan Longoria this season is that he is putting up great numbers (.364/.425/.657), but it doesn’t feel like he has been in a hot streak. He just seems to be “doing what he do.” And after last night’s home run, Dirtbag has now been on base in 24 of the 26 games this season and has at least 2 hits in 8 of the last 10 games…Big Game’s Big Escape. James Shields escaped a bases-loaded, one-out jam in the 6th with back-to-back strikeouts of Milton Bradley and Ken Griffey. The later on Shields’ signature changeup. He eventually worked into the 9th and struck out 10+ for the second straight start. In his last 2 starts, James the Greater has 22 Ks and 1 walk…The Devil Is On The Road. The Rays are now 10-1 on the road this season. Last year, the Rays went 32-49 on the road.

THE BAD: Dioner Navarro. Navi was back in the lineup and the M’s scored their first run on a James Shields wild pitch that most catchers would have blocked, including John Jaso…Backup Leadoff. So Joe Maddon felt the need to give Jason Bartlett the night off after that grueling off-day. Whatever. But is Sean Rodriguez really the Rays second-best leadoff option? He went 0-4 with 3 strikeouts…On Second Thought. Why exactly were Jason Bartlett and BJ Upton not in the starting lineup against a lefty?

THE TELLING: There were a lot of empty seats in Seattle last night. We are waiting for the first writer to blame Raysheads for not supporting their team.

WHERE THEY STAND: The Rays are off to the best start in the AL since 2005 at 19-7. They have a 1 game lead on the Yankees and a 4 game lead over the Tigers in the Wild Card. After 26 games in 2008, the Rays were 14-12.

DEVIL DOGS WEBTOPIA

  • If you missed the update last night, Carl Crawford claims he was misquoted by Sports Illustrated. [The Heater]
  • Even though the Mariners are starting 3 lefties in this series, Joe Maddon may start John Jaso on Thursday. [St. Pete Times]
  • Joe Maddon and Mariners manager Don Wakamatsu are good friends. [Fanhouse]
  • Dock of the Rays thought the taser incident in Philadelphia was reminiscent of an incident at The Trop. [Dock of the Rays]
  • Minor League Ball has a mock draft with the Rays taking a high school pitcher with high upside with their first pick. [Minor League Ball]
  • Roger Mooney writes about Randy Choate’s rebound from a tough start. [Tampa Tribune]
  • Alex Cobb, the Rays 4th round pick in 2006, will make his 2010 debut with Montgomery today. [Biscuit Crumbs]

DOWN ON THE FARM

  • Check out “The Rundown” from Rays Prospects for boxscores and more detailed recaps. [Rays Prospects]
  • DURHAM: Heath Phillips gave up 6 runs in 5 innings including 2 home runs. He struck out 5…Hank Blalock was 4-5 with his 2nd home run and 4 RBI. He is now hitting .377/.430/.506 in 18 games…Joe Dillon (4), Ryan Shealy (3) and Chris Richard (5) also homered…Fernando Perez went 2-6 with his 12th steal.
  • MONTGOMERY: Chris Nowak went 3-4 with his first home run…Matt Fields was 1-4 with 2 RBI including a walk-off single in the 10th.
  • CHARLOTTE: Chris Andujar gave up 4 runs (3 earned) in 3.2 innings on 8 hits and a walk…Matt Sweeney was 3-3 with 3 walks and his 4th home run. He is now hitting .291/.406/.532 in 23 games…Tim Beckham missed his second straight game.
  • BOWLING GREEN: Kyle Lobstein allowed 4 runs in 5.1 innings. He struck out 3 and walked 1.

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41 Comments

  1. Sarah says:

    Stupid question of the day: if they play under a roof in Seattle, why did it look like it was so damned cold?

    • Cork Gaines says:

      Not stupid. I remember thinking the same thing when it first opened. Turns out that it does have a roof, but it is open-air. The roof is more like an awning with the sides still open when it is covered.

  2. MikeD says:

    SO, haven’t seen any “coulda shoulda woulda” speculation about Gregg Zaun. WHAT IF Rays had kept him, gotten Shoppach, let Navi go? I keep seeing Zaun’s name in the standouts column on the ESPN site, so it got me thinking. Also, unrelated, at Sunday’s game the kid doing the lineup announcing during the third inning kinda mispronounced Brignac as “Brainiac”. I kinda like that.

    • Don says:

      Instead we got damaged goods…Shopp…..But it might work out… because Jaso got a chance to play..and really show what Navarro is:
      USELESS!

    • Mike says:

      The only highlight I have seen of Zaun this year is when he couldn’t throw the ball back to the mound. He was a solid player, but I will much prefer the Jaso/Labaton Shoppach platoon that is on the way.

  3. Don says:

    SOON……..Longo is going to get NOTHING to hit!
    If I were the opposing pitcher… nothing would be over the plate for him… if Pena, Upton and/or Burrell were coming up after him…I know I can get them out!

    • I think that’s what Cork was eluding to when he said Longo is “doing what he do.” Last night’s homer was a mistake pitch and Longo made him pay. It’s easy to say you’re not going to give anything for Longo to hit, but outside of the catcher putting his arm out it’s tough to pull it off every time. What makes Longo so great (and Pena/Upton/Burrell not as as great) is that he takes that pitch and consistantly knocks it. Those other guys are hit and miss.

  4. I was a little bit perturbed by the lineup until I realized that this team is so good, they can win despite leading off Rodriguez and sitting Upton/Bartlett. That’s a good sign!

    I really think the AL East is going to be a war of attrition between the Yankees and the Rays. Maddon knows how important it’s going to be down the stretch to keep everyone healthy while the Yankees struggle with tick-tack injuries.

    • Cork Gaines says:

      My comments on the lineup were obviously my initial reaction when the game started. But after-the-fact, JoeMa probably deserves some credit for the lineup. Any time you can get a W sitting two of your key players against a good team AND have Rodriguez leadoff, that is basically a bonus win. A freebie. If the Rays make the playoffs by one or two games, we can look back games like last night as one the Rays kinda stole.

      • Beth says:

        And it helps when your opponent seems to be playing on your side. 4 errors! Thanks, Seattle!

      • MJ says:

        I still dont see the need to rest both of those guys. Maybe BJ, but it seems Bart is getting a night off every week. If they want SRod to get some ABs, send him to Durham.

        • Thadw says:

          Bottom line: Are they winning or are they not? Why not enjoy the wins instead of b!tching about who’s getting an extra day off or not? I just dont understand. Are you upset because you think that without Maddon’s “crazy” ideas of resting certain players for a day here or there they should be 22-5 instead of 19-7? I just don’t get it. Why complain about success? The Mariners sukk and the Rays rotation is lined up 1-2-3 to mow them down this week. What’s the harm? They cruised last night. Why b!tch?

          • MJ says:

            Im not bitching. Bitching would be whining and complaining and cursing, etc. I am stating my opinion just like everyone else. And that opinion is, when 4 of your 7 loses have come against lefties, and Sean Rodriguez has not been hitting, and Bart has gotten several days off, why not have him lead off instead of Sean Rodriguez. Just because something works doesn’t mean its the best possible decision. Of course you can say hindsight i doesn’t matter, but thats not the point. Chill out.

          • Thadw says:

            Fair enough. Point taken. I just think Maddon has a slightly “outside the box” way of doing things and with the best team in baseball, I tend to defer to his decision-making. At the very least while we’re still winning. He’s thinking about the long haul in both cases: giving Barty an extra day and giving Sean a little more time to work things out at the plate and he accomplished both while still getting a win.

      • leningan says:

        Don’t know if it was just the boys giving company talk, but the brief article about Maddon using the off day to give guys two days rest is full of quotes from CC, BJ and Bartlett about how much they like having the tow day rests… even this eary in the season.

        • MJ says:

          Upton has started every game this season before last night, so that makes sense. I’ve seen Bart asked the question on TV, and he gave a lil smirk when he answered it. I gotta believe the guy would prefer to play, especially after an off day. These are Major League Baseball players here. It’s not a big deal, I know. But I think Prof was right w/ his initial comments in the post.

  5. Kelley says:

    I like what you tweeted, Prof, about watching these late games with no little one to get ready for bed or running around, etc., and I can totally relate, but so many of these 10:00 games in a row is going to kill me. Especially when the little one gets up at 6:30 the next morning so I have to too. But it’s worth it if the Rays keep winning!

  6. Joe D. says:

    I know there are a bunch of Kevin Kennedy haters on here but he made a good point about Shields, early in the game he was using his fastball to get guys out, which differed from the 12k outing the start before, then second time through the line up it was the change up, then by the end of the game he was getting guys out with his breaking pitches, and he was also shaking off Navi a lot, so as he should Shields was taking control of the game, and made it his own.

  7. Thadw says:

    Agreed, that was a decent point by KK about Shields and his fastball, and I think it was DRAYSBAY (no offense prof.) who pointed out this a.m. that Shields has found some add’l MPH on his 4 seamer in recent weeks that has lengthened the differential b/w fastball and his masterful change.

    HOWEVER, I just gotta say that KK is SUCH a drag. I really am growing to HATE watching the Rays’ broadcasts when KK is in the booth. He thinks he’s so damn funny and can’t stop talking about himself, his managerial history, his playing days, his plane ride that saved America. SHUTUP already! Just SHUT the EFF UP!

    Poor Staats, just has to sit there and chuckle and pretend they have some sort of chemistry. I really look forward to non-West Coast road trips, when BA replaces KK in the booth. BA’s not perfect, but he’s self-deprecating, and amusing at times, and most importantly….he’s NOT KK!

    More than once this year already, I’ve switched from Home Broadcast to Away Broadcast on MLB.TV when KK is in the booth. It’s THAT bad, IMO.

    • Sarah says:

      KK may occasionally be perceptive, but any point he makes he needs to hammer home for what feels like hours. I tried turning off the sound and turning on the radio, but there’s a very disconcerting delay between them.

      Could you imagine having Kennedy as your coach or manager?

  8. Alex says:

    So really how many more times do we have to watch Zobrist strike out on a pitch down the middle or pop out to kill a rally with him in the three hole?

    • Thadw says:

      Patience people. Patience. Geez. It’s amazing how many people find things to gripe about on the best team in baseball. Let’s see….best team in baseball, most runs scored in MLB, Longo is raking in the 4 hole, Zoby is notorious slow starter, let’s maybe give him another month to adjust? Whadya say? The book is out on Zoby after last year. He’s not going to get 4 seamers down Broadway. He has to adjust to getting pitched more carefully this year and Maddon is giving hime some time to get his plate discipline back and lay off the offspeed stuff out of the zone. If Longo keeps mashing and Zoby can show a little better discipline and patience he’ll start getting the fastballs on hitters’ counts.

      If you wanna gripe, go root for the Pirates.

      • Tone says:

        Notorious slow starter?!?… He just had his first real year in 09 and he did not start out slow. Not sure how you can say that. He had little power in spring and he seems overmatched in most at-bats. Winning with him in the 3 hole while he struggles to adjust is all good but when we play the Yankees again the void will look pretty damn stark. Putting Sean in any more games seems silly to me, bring up Hank and send him down. Sean looks really really bad at the plate, strike outs occur with basic pitches down the middle. So far he looks like a high fastball hitter and nothing else. Winning is better than crack but just as addictive.

        • Thadw says:

          Last I checked, 2009 was not Zorilla’s first year playing baseball and if you were paying attention last night you would’ve heard DS and KK discussing that by his own admission, Zorilla has a hard time finding the proper swing plane early on in EVERY season. Wouldn’t you rather have him work out his swing now against the punchless Mariners so that he’ll be in the slot against better competition? He’s not “overmatched”, he’s just adjusting to being pitched more carefully and needs to be more patient.

          I’ll agree that Sean d/n look great at the plate. But again, I’d rather let him try to relax up here for now while it’s not costing the Rays wins and see what we have in a larger sample size before sending him down. More ABs at AAA aren’t going to prove whether he can contribute at big league level. He rakes AAA pitching, but hasn’t YET proven he can handle MLB pitchers. I’d like to see if he can.

          Patience. This microwave society we live in is going to give me a coronary soon. “It’s the big one, Elizabeth.”

          • Sarah says:

            2009 wasn’t Zobrist’s first year, but it was the first year he actually had a successful season as a hitter. In his previous 3 seasons he only once hit (barely) above .250. I think that’s why it’s a little bizarre to say he starts slow. In all but last year he started slow…and ended slow.

            I really want Zobrist to succeed — we need him, and he seems like a nice enough guy, too. But what reason do we have to think that the Ben Zobrist of 2009 was the “real” Ben Zobrist? Maybe he really is a .250 hitter with modest power.

    • Mike says:

      I really like Zobrist and want him to succeed. The fact is it’s time to shake up the lineup and get him down a little lower. Longoria should be the three hole hitter, Pena 4, I guess Burrell 5 and Zo 6. I don’t know, Burrell needs to be gone too, but that’s probably not going to happen.

  9. Joe D. says:

    Maybe I stayed up too late, but wasn’t it Zobrist that ripped a double off the wall to score Crawford from first?

  10. Mike says:

    Quite honestly I see no reason to ever see Navi on the field in a Rays uniform again. Even when Jaso gets out he hits the ball hard and when he steps up to the plate you actually feel like he could get a hit. I’d rather go with Jaso and anyone in the minors. Navi is done and he’s just a brutal catcher.

  11. Don says:

    How soon the villagers forget who the King is…..ask Longo, CC, Pena, Bartlett and others WHO was the MVP (that is Most Valuable Player) last year…without Zo they wouldn’t have been .500….Book It!

    • Alex says:

      Hey that’s great but is it 2009? No because I could of sworn it was with some of the comments are here. Yes Zobrist had a double last night so does that automatically wipe away all the times he’s had Carl and/or Bartlett on only to pop up, strike out or gidp? And then Longo comes up with no one on and smashes a solo shot. I don’t care what Zobrist did last year. Its what he isn’t doing this year. He’s not hitting, he’s striking out and he’s not walking.

      And to the person that said 1. Zobrist is a slow starter and 2. We have the best record etc……Well

      1. Zobrist had about 8 hr at this time last year. All the other years we’ve had him? He’s barely looked like a major leaguer.
      2. Yes we do have the best record and the best offense but have you looked at where the offense and record has come from? Pitching for one and then the bottom of the order getting on for Bartlett, Crawford, Longo, Pena, and Bj.

      If Zobrist is such a big help to our offense then riddle me this: Why is it that our leadoff man, two hole hitter, four through seven hole hitters and our back up short stop all have more rbi’s than someone that has been the three hole hitter in the best offense the whole year? Our rookie catcher who has a 1/4 the ab’s of Zobrist has one less rbi.

      Current RBI’s:
      Bartlett- 16
      Crawford- 13
      Zobrist- 11
      Longo- 20
      Pena- 22
      BJ- 15
      Burrell- 13
      Jaso- 10
      Brignac- 12

      Who does he have more than? Navi, Kapler, Shoppach, Rodriguez, Aybar. Good thing he’s holding back the competition

      • Alex says:

        Meant to say around here….

      • Thadw says:

        Never said Zoby wasn’t struggling. I’m just willing to give him a little more time to figure it out. And JoeMa is too. Especially at 19-7. It’s way too short of a sample size to give up just yet. He’s gonna stay there for awhile, so get used to it. Quit listening to Deumig and come up with your own original near-sighted inflammatory comment.

  12. Joe D. says:

    I give Navi a break because I remember having the exact same feelings in ’07, then her got really hot down the stretch that year, and in to ’08 and was an All Star… So he’s streaky, and I’d imagine we’re due for a hot streak soon…

  13. Joe D. says:

    I should add that i love what jaso brings to the plate (and behind it…pun intended). As many his as walks a year (minors) and text book defense, I’ve never felt like Navi has framed the ball well and that he stabs at pitches… But Navi isn’t garbage either…

    • Alex says:

      Navi is just not suited to be a catcher. Jaso needs to be given the starts and show that he can stay up here. Navi had one fluke year and even then he didn’t play very well on defense. How many more balls in the dirt are we going to have to watch Navi just completely miss when we know that Jaso would stop them. Or how about Navi’s great ab’s? Where he sees three pitches and we are lucky if he makes contact and even luckier if he doesn’t gidp.

  14. Alex says:

    One more thing. Just because I am posting negative things about any player does not mean I hate the player, navi withstanding, or the team. Its great being the best team in baseball but all teams have flaws. And its always more fun to point out the flaws when they could be fixed to make the team even better.

  15. Don says:

    Ok Alex…your entitled to your opinion on Zo….and even though the players,media (MVP), the coach (put him 3rd), the owners ($32mil contract) and 90% of the fans feel you are wrong…maybe you see things about Zo everyone else doesn’t…as the season plays out we will see…
    You can apologize later…Sept. or Oct. will be fine!

    • Thadw says:

      Amen Don. Alex, it’s just too early to be b!tching about last year’s team MVP and All-Star. All players struggle from time to time at different times of the year. It’s a long season. Longo was lame for about two months last year. Pena has gone thru LOOOONG stretches without any production.

      All of the Zobrist talk stems from Deumig who has been on an insane (although no doubt intentionally inflammatory) rant since Spring Training about moving Longo to the cleanup spot. So, now that Longo is raking and Zoby is not he’s shifted his rant to Zoby’s lack of production to prove his point. Don’t be sukkas. Give Zoby time. He will figure it out.

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