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: Stirrups! Yes, the top of today’s “Good” is a purely aesthetic observation. Take a look at Evan Longoria to the right. Perfect! And those beauties helped Dirtbag snap an 0-10 against Zack Greinke with 2 hits and a home run. Think they might stick around for a while?…Big Dub’s Big Start. Wade Davis versus Zack Greinke sounds like a mismatch. And more often than not, if the other pitcher wants to win, he will have to throw up a lot of zeros. And that is exactly what Davis did with 7 shutout innings on 3 hits and 3 walks…The Bullpen. Three relievers faced the minimum over the final 2 innings, with the only baserunner, a leadoff walk in the 9th, retired with a double-play…The Orioles. The Orioles? Yep. The O’s swept the Red Sox, who are now once again 3 games under .500 and 7 games back in the East.

THE BAD: Patience. Zack Greinke throws strikes, so it is usually ok for batters to be aggressive to avoid falling behind in the count. The downside is allowing a great pitcher to work deep into the game. Greinke needed only 87 pitches in 8 innings and in 5 of the 8 innings, he threw 10 pitches or less.

THE TELLING: In all five of Wade Davis’ starts this season he has faced the opposing team’s opening day starter. The Rays are 4-1 in those games…The game took only 2:15…The Rays starting pitchers have a 2.64 ERA, best in the AL…PECOTA now gives the Rays an 89.1% shot at making the playoffs.

WHERE THEY STAND: The Rays are 18-7, 1.5 games ahead of the Yankees and 2.5 games ahead of the Tigers in the Wild Card. After 25 games in 2008, the Rays were 14-11.

DEVIL DOGS WEBTOPIA

  • Well, if you ever wondered what it would sound like to hear Dave Martinez cover ZZ Top, today is your lucky day. The rest of us? Not so much. [The Heater]
  • JP Howell could be ready to start a rehab assignment as early as next week. Meanwhile Matt Joyce will start throwing in about a week. [The Heater]
  • John Romano writes about the lack of holes in the Rays rotation and how that could keep the Rays from slumping. [St. Pete Times]
  • Joe Henderson writes about how the bullpen has stepped up in JP Howell’s absence. [Tampa Tribune]
  • Roger Mooney writes about the struggles of mid-season call-ups to find enough clothes to wear. [Tampa Tribune]

DOWN ON THE FARM

  • Check out “The Rundown” from Rays Prospects for boxscores and more detailed recaps. [Rays Prospects]
  • DURHAM: Carlos Hernandez’ defense failed him as he only gave up 3 hits and a walk in 7 innings, but 5 runs crossed the plate. Only 1 run was earned…Dan Johnson hit his 9th home run…Elliot Johnson hit his 3rd home run…Hank Blalock was 0-5…Fernando Perez went 0-4 with a walk and his 11th steal…Desmond Jennings did not start.
  • MONTGOMERY: (ppd. rain)
  • CHARLOTTE: Joe Cruz pitched 6 shutout innings with 5 strikeouts and 1 walk…Matt Bush pitched 2 shutout innings with no hits, 2 walks and 3 Ks…Tim Beckham was 0-4 with 2 Ks.
  • BOWLING GREEN: (ppd. rain)
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33 Comments

  1. Justin says:

    Man, the new jersey's are terrible.

    Where do they come up with this garbage?

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    • Sarah says:

      I agree. The blue is very unflattering, and somehow the combo of the light blue jersey and the white pants makes them all look fat.

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      • jjdupree says:

        The solution to the blue jerseys (besides just getting rid of them) is light blue hats. The dark blue hats with a light blue shirt and white pants just looks stupid. Now throwing in the dark blue socks and they are getting a little clowny looking even though I like the stirrups. Whats next royal blue in the mix too?

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        • Beth says:

          And any woman can tell you that the white pants, dark socks and powder blue shirts will make your butt look big.

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        • Justin says:

          Yes, if they are going to keep changing colors, they do need to be consistent, but goodness gracious, why do they keep picking such terrible alternate colors?

          Additionally, they need to stop changing the size of the freaking logo! Their unis are starting to look like they couldn't settle on a design!

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    • MJ says:

      Seriously, it does look ridic. The "RAYS" is way too big. The hat should be light blue (ala Royals alt). Maybe just the "TB" logo on the check or something. IDK, youd think the colors would go well together, but they don't at all.

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      • Cork Gaines says:

        I have made this prediction before, but based on the "one new item per season" pattern the last couple of years, I am guessing we will indeed see a powder blue cap next year and that the cap will have the sunburst logo instead of "TB"

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  2. Justin says:

    Yo, Prof! Boston is SEVEN (7) games back, not 5.5.

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  3. John says:

    New nickname suggestion for Big Dubs: Jack. 'Cuz he's a giant killer.

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  4. Don says:

    Can you imagine.... so called experts.... ever thought Sonnanstine could beat out Davis as the 5th pitcher...maybe it was a joke?
    Not much talk about attendance after the Rays Avg. 25,000 over the weekend (Fri, Sat, Sun) against the WORST team in the league!
    Pena, Upton, Burrell back to Mid-season 2009 form....Maddon can NOT
    bat these three STRIKE OUT hitters in the line up....they are rally KILLERS as Sat. night was too evident...Please!

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    • I'm going to give those three the benefit of the doubt for now because their bats were huge in the Rays hot streak. I'll say it over and over again: Bossman Junior is the key to this lineup. If he's hitting, both Pena & Pat the Bat are seeing better pitches. If he's not hitting, Pena & Burrell get crap. No matter what, you're going to get nights like Saturday with those three. But, on the other hand, you're going to have nights like Thursday and Friday (Thu it was Aybar instead of Burrell).

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    • Thadw says:

      Don, just checking, but we are talking about the team with the best record in baseball, right? And the most runs scored in the major leagues, right? And the highest run differential in the major leagues, right? And the fifth highest BA in the AL, right? Get a grip, bro.

      Let's not get hyperbolic vomit all over ourselves and condemn 1/3 of the lineup to the scrap heap after three pretty outstanding performances by RHP over the weekend. I was as frustrated as anyone losing that game Saturday night, but I had to step back, regroup and appreciate all that the Rays have accomplished so far and move on.

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      • Don says:

        No one is getting excited over a couple of losses...but if you can't see that when you have Pena, Upton and Burrell hit back to back in the order
        very likely 2 or all three will strike out...Somehow they have to split up with Brig, Rod, Jaso or maybe even Zo at 6 or7th!

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    • John says:

      "Strikes out too much" is just another way to say "doesn't ground into enough double plays."

      :P

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  5. Thadw says:

    Nice catch on the stirrups, Prof. BJ was also sporting the stirrups yesterday (really knee high socks, I guess). I hate the new powder blue tops, but I think the dark blue knee high socks/stirrups take away some of the blandness of light blue tops on white pants. Altogether, I like it better with the dark blue socks.

    And, YES, I'm totally confident in my manliness talking about baseball fashion.

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    • Justin says:

      Another vote against the crappy sky blue, robin's blue, baby blue whatever uniforms!

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    • Kelley says:

      I was just going to say the same thing, that BJ had those stirrup things on too, so how do we know Longoria started it and not BJ? It's so cute. I hope they keep it up.

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      • Cork Gaines says:

        We don't. I followed most of yesterday's game on the radio. It wasn't until I was watching the highlights after the game that I noticed the stirrups on Longoria's home run. I didn't see Upton, but that makes this mire exciting that 2 of the better players did it. I would love for stirrups to be this year's Rayhawks.

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        • Dustin says:

          i emphatically second the proposal that 'rups become this year's rayhawks. they did a lot to mitigate the otherwise-horrific powder blue alts and would look awesome with the regular uni sets.

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  6. pcbredemeier says:

    Dan Johnson - Oh my goodness! Did he go see the swing mechanic this offseason?

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    • Alex says:

      He's what we call a AAAA player.

      I agree on the light blue jerseys being garbo. They need to wear the Dark Blues as their only/main alternate.

      Suddenly our bullpen doesn't look so bad with Ekstrom gone and pretty soon Sonny. But then again that would leave the Rays without a long reliever so who is most likely to go when Howell gets back? If they dropped a position player it would have to be either Rodriguez or Kapler, but dropping Rodriguez would leave the Rays with: Burrell/Aybar, Navi, and Kapler. Not much in terms of position flexibility.

      Do you think the Rays are looking to trade someone in the bullpen? The other problem with dropping Sonny is that it would leave the Rays with two guys coming off injuries (JP and Benoit), a lefty specialist, a closer, set up guy and Balfour (who can go about 3 innings if need be)

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      • Alex says:

        Oh yea forgot about Cormier who can also go 3+ innings.

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        • Beth says:

          Exactly -- Cormier was brought in as the long relief guy -- he's been used in different sorts of situations only because Howell is out.

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  7. Joe D. says:

    I'm obviously in the minority here, but I like the light blues, they should add a hat that goes better with the light blues.

    I was at the game yesterday, I felt Grienke was dealing, more so than our guys not hitting. Where as Davis, seemed like he was pitching good, but Royals just weren't hitting.

    Crawford got a huge standing ovation when he came in as a defensive replacement from the left field corner of the stands.

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  8. Mike says:

    What are your thoughts on sending Rodriguez down to get more at-bats in Durham and bring up someone like Blalock? I know Rodriguez got 2 hits last game but I still think he needs more playing time.

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    • Cork Gaines says:

      I think the Rays want to see a couple more weeks of Brignac to be sure this isn't just a hot streak. If he continues to hit well (he will always field well), then I think we will see a Blalock-Rodriguez swap. I know Maddon prefers the defensive flexibility of Rodriguez, but he does have other options.

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      • Gus says:

        S-Rod gets two hits off the Greinke, half the team total, and we want to send him down!! Oh good lord, I can't understand on a team with this much AAA talent Gabe Kapler and Pat Burrell keep their jobs just because management made mistakes. S-Rod, based on his AAA numbers, his killer spring and his recent performance deserves more at bats, not less. Not unexpected that a Miami kid would struggle in spot duty in cold weather in his first weeks with a new team.

        S-Rod should get a chance in CF if Upton continues to struggle hitting, altough he misplayed one yesterday in LF. He can move.

        And the earlier comment that Pena-Upton-Pat can't be lined up together long term is a solid one. Against tougher pitching, that is a spot in the line up that just has too many unproductive outs.

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  9. Thadw says:

    Don't give up on BJ just yet. Inside the numbers, this season is shaping up to look more like 2007 than 2009 for BJ according to Baseball Prospectus.

    http://insider.espn.go.com/blog/tmi-mlb/post?id=2715

    Coming off a bunch of tough righties this weekend and with a bevy lefties coming up on the West Coast, here's hoping that BJ is turning the corner.

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  10. Joe D. says:

    I like sonny in the 'pen, he had one or two bad outings the rest have been solid, I'd kind of like to see sonny in at least 1-3 high leverage pursue situations before he gets sent down our dealt...

    I'm thinking sonny will have the same calmness he always has and can take advantage of guys geared up for the hard stuff most relievers offer...

    I guess the rotation's been so solid that we haven't really seen much of who the stronger and weaker links are out of the pen yet... Even Choate's looked better last few outings...

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  11. Alex says:

    Sonny is not suited for high leverage situations which he showed during the Boston game. He is far too prone to giving up hr's because of his dependence on location. If he leaves one down the middle its gone becuse his pitches don't really move that well. Where as with Howell he throws even slower but every pitch moves a lot. I hope the Rays send Sonny down and keep him as a reliever so that he can learn the craft better just as Howell did.

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  12. Justin says:

    Prof. I'm surprised you didn't put Maddon's bullpen management in the bad--both losses were clearly predicated on our pitchers losing control of the inning.

    These guys are normally good, and even when they're not, they can pull themselves out of jams. But not this time. Sori was dying out there, and Corms, well, he should have been pulled fo sho.

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