The GBT – The Good, The Bad and The Telling sandwich, where The Bad is nice and lean and the The Telling is ripe.

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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.
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26 Comments

  1. Brian H says:

    professor what the best road start ever? we have to be approaching it at 12-1. yes?

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  2. Deadeye says:

    That Kazmir article made me chuckle. Friedman'd.

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    • Thad says:

      I watched the first inning of that Angels/Sox game and I just couldn't take it any more; I had to turn away. Walk, walk, foul, foul, walk, foul, foul, foul, foul... The memories of Kaz' inefficient starts is too fresh and too painful. Without his slider, he really just isn't very good. Thank you Friedman.

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  3. The New York magazine piece was great. I'm really looking forward to the book.

    As for looking easy, it seem like the Rays are really pouring it on in the rubber game of 3-game series. The other teams just look tired *thinking* about having to play the Rays one more time. Think about Niemann's rough inning... the Mariners didn't even look interested in jumping all over that. They were just content to see if Niemann would walk a run in or two for them. No effort at all. It seems to be like that all season except for the Royals & Yankees.

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    • Jimbo says:

      If by "great" you mean "terrible", sure.

      "The general consensus is that they're too thin and won't be able to hold up for a full season"

      Facepalm.jpg

      "The Rays have a stronger rivalry with the Yankees than the Red Sox."

      Epicfacepalm.jpg

      Gotta love the mainstream media...

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      • Cork Gaines says:

        Well, Leitch is a Cardinals fan and an NL guy. I doubt he follows the Rays too closely. When he said "too thin" I think he is referring to a lack of superstars, which is how the rest of the country views the Rays. They might know Longoria, but that's it. And in the minds of the casual baseball fan, if they haven't heard of any of the players, they must not be very good.

        And i could be wrong but I always thought Rays fans had a stronger hatred for the Yankees. They certainly hate both and I think Rays fans hate RedSox fans more than they hate Yankees fans. But I always thought they looked at Rays-Yankees as a bigger on-field rivalry.

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        • Thad says:

          I agree that Yanks are hated more. From the "Yanks in your face" everywhere you turn in Tampa (radio, TV, Legends Field, obnoxious transplants from NY), to the fact that the Rays have NEVER won a season series from Yanks (7-11 is the best), Yanks are hated more. Sox rivalry has become more COMPETITIVE recently, but Yanks are more HATED.

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          • Beth says:

            True, although I upped my Sox hatred in 2008 during the pennant race and the playoffs. Fact is, sadly, Rays have never played a "must win" game against the Yankees - usually because the Rays were going nowhere, and in 2008 because the Yankees had an off year. This is shaping up as the first year in which there will be a real on field rivalry between the Rays and the Yankees.

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          • Justin says:

            No way. Hated? Try the Shields-Crisp fight.

            Please. The Yankees are an obstacle for sure, but not hated.

            We hate Youk and Pedroia. We hate Papelbum even more.

            The Yankees are good, and we want to beat them, but they aren't insufferable like the idiot Red Sox.

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        • Mike says:

          Trying to decide if I hate the Yankees or the Red Sox more is like trying to decide if I hate Al Qaeda in Iraq more than Al Qaeda in Afghanistan. They are both obnoxious, wear pink hats, have a false sense of entitlement, and need to get back across the Mason Dixon line.

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        • MJ says:

          Id have to say I hate Yankee fans more than Red Sox fans, but the Red Sox team more than the Yankee team. But I cant stand either.

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          • Beth says:

            I think that's a good distinction. I've never been able, for example, to muster any genuine ill will toward Derek Jeter or CC Sabathia. I've tried but I can't. And A-Rod seems so pathetic as a person that he doesn't seem worthy of my scorn.

            But seeing Big Papi spit in his batting gloves and Kevin Youkilis shake his tushy as though he's participating in some sort of weird dance competition make me sick to my stomach.

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      • MJ says:

        It was great cause Keri is someone people will respect and listen to, and he hit the nail on the head on many issues, obvisouly setting the record straight for some New Yorkers hopefully.

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        • What MJ said. Keri understands the Rays better than probably anybody outside the solid fan base. While I didn't necessarily like the way the questions were phrased, I did like his answers. Good stuff.

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    • Beth says:

      Michael, I largely agree with your assessment of the Ray's strong play, but I thought last night -- esp. that Niemann meltdown inning - was largely about the Mariner's deep funk. You know all those ads for depression medication that show people looking sad and listless before they start taking Prozac or whatever? They could use footage of the Mariner's play last night for one of those ads. For example, when Kapler hit that shallow, high fly ball in the second inning, didn't you just know that the three Mariners players would converge and it would fall between them for an RBI hit? So yeah, Rays are good, but Seattle is also bad.

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  4. Thad says:

    Assuming Rays take at least 2 of 3 from A's, what should Rays fans be rooting for this weekend between Yanks/Sox:

    A) Yanks sweep and bury Sox 8 or 9 games back?
    B) Sox sweep and provide 3 or 4 game cushion in standings for Rays?
    C) Or 2-1 either way?

    I'm torn. There are elements of each that I like, but I suppose C is probably best with a slight bias toward Yanks 2-1, taking some life out of Sox resurgence.

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    • Beth says:

      I'd say, 2-1 either way, with lots of injuries.

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    • I'm with Beth... I don't care who wins as long as they beat each other up.

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    • Justin says:

      We'll deal with the Yankees later. The Sox just came of a four game sweep. I want the Yankees to knock them out, now. Not later, now.

      We want to compete with one team, not two. Giving the Sox a rope will not make things easier, because the Yankees can make the games up later, while the Sox may not be able to.

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    • Cork Gaines says:

      I'm rooting for Yanks to sweep the Sox but I also want Sabathia and ARod to get mauled by a grizzly bear.

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    • Mike Roosa says:

      I think it's too early to worry about the yanks and red sox. If we keep taking care of business then that's all that matters.

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  5. Don says:

    Don't hear much from those Kazmir fans that were so disappointed when the Rays dumped him...now everythings ok!
    Does anyone on this (baseball) planet think that Pat Burrell is even half the hitter Willie Aybar is? Maddon? mgt./owners?....who???
    I can see it coming tonight... .300 hitter Aybar sitting on the bench... while .200 hitters play...Oh well... I'm getting used to it!

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