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: Making It Look Easy. It feels like every game this season has been like last night. Domination. And it starts with the league best starting pitchers who have a 2.61 ERA and are 7-0 the last 2 trips through the rotation. Jeff Niemann was the latest with 7 shutout innings. He allowed 6 baserunners, 3 of them coming in the second inning…Ben Zobrist. For the second straight day, Zobrist bunted for a basehit. This time it was a pseudo-safety squeeze, scoring a runner from third…Lefty Lineup. Gabe Kapler got his usual starting nod in right against a lefty and Willy Aybar is becoming the regular DH against lefties. Last night they combined for 3 hits and 3 GTMIs (see below)…Easy Parcheesi. In two of the first 3 innings, BJ Upton recorded the final out with a running grab towards the wall. Both times he looked like he was just shagging flies.
THE BAD: Jeff Niemann’s Second Inning. He needed 28 pitches and at one point threw 11 straight pitches out of the strike zone. He loaded the bases after retiring the first two batters, but survived when he got Rob Johnson looking…Kevin Kennedy. In the 4th inning, Dewayne Staats was commenting on how good the Mariners ballgirls are with their gloves and noticed the one down the right field line was on the other side of the field the night before. Kennedy’s response? “A lot of women that can play third base, they can play first base as well.” We have no idea what that means. And to make it worse, he was so anxious to drop that line that he you can hear him trying to interrupt Staats who was still trying to make his point. Ugh, why does it need to be so painful?
THE TELLING: The average score of the Rays 21 victories is 7.2-2.2…The Rays are now 12-1 on the road…Carlos Pena tied Fred McGriff’s franchise record for walks (305)…Dioner Navarro will catch David Price tonight, but it is expected John Jaso will start both weekend games.
WHERE THEY STAND: The Rays are 21-7 and have a 1.5 game lead on the Yankees and a 3.5 game lead (6 in the loss column) over the Blue Jays in the Wild Card. After 28 games in 2008, the Rays were 16-12.
DEVIL DOGS WEBTOPIA…
- Two of my favorite writers discussed the Rays for New York magazine. [New York]
- Rise of the Rays argues that moving Jeff Niemann to closer is the answer to the Rays pitching depth “problem.” [Rise of the Rays]
- Rays Prospects takes a closer look at Matt Moore’s rough start. [Rays Prospects]
- It is obviously early, and the Rays have a long ways to go before winning a World Series, but so far, the Rays are on pace to meet one person’s criteria to be considered one of the greatest team’s ever (thanks Thad). [Sportales]
- Can somebody explain the purpose of this graph? What are we expected to learn from comparing the attendance of a Saturday game with a post-game concert to a weeknight game against the Indians (for example). [Tampa Tribune]
- The Rays are hitting .319 with runners in scoring position despite only hitting .262 overall. Have they been lucky? Or is this part of new approach to hitting implemented by Derek Shelton: GTMI (Get The Man In). Hardcore Saberheads will tell you it is all luck. Traditionalists will call the Rays “clutch.” The truth is probably somewhere in between. [St. Pete Times]
- Joe Maddon has no problem with his players going on their own and using the bunt as a weapon. [St. Pete Times]
- Roger Mooney writes about Matt Garza’s quest to be one of the best pitchers in baseball. [Tampa Tribune]
- In this piece on Scott Kazmir, it sure reads like a recycled Rays article. Just sub “Rays” every time it says “Angels.” [ESPN]
DOWN ON THE FARM…
- Check out “The Rundown” from Rays Prospects for boxscores and more detailed recaps. [Rays Prospects]
- DURHAM: Aneury Rodriguez was pounded for the second straight outing. This time he lasted just 2.1 innings and gave up 3 runs on 7 hits and 4 walks…Hank Blalock went 2-5 with a 3-run home run, hit 3rd…Alvin Colina and Jose Lobaton also homered.
- MONTGOMERY: Alex Torres struggled, giving up 5 runs (2 earned) on 6 hits and 3 walks in just 3 innings. He struck out 5.
- CHARLOTTE: Nick Barnese loaded the bases with no outs on 2 singles and a hit batter. He then retired 19 of the final 22 batters he faced. He allowed just 1 run (sac fly) on 3 hits and no walks. He struck out 5…Tim Beckham was 0-4 with 3 strikeouts, a walk and a stolen base in his return to the lineup…Matt Sweeney was 0-4 with 3 Ks.
- BOWLING GREEN: Shane Dyer pitched 7 no-hit innings before being pulled. Of the first 9 batters he faced, he hit 2 and walked 1. After that he settled down and retired 16 of the final 17 batters he faced with the only baserunner reaching via an error.