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: John Jaso And The Leadoff Spot. Sure you want speed at the top of the order, but it is more important to have a guy that can get on base, and JJ Dynomite can get on base. Yesterday he came to the plate 6 times. He walked, singled, doubled and hit a big 2-run home run. All told, he drove in 5 runs and he even stole a base. So that thing about speed is moot also…Bottom of the Order. And why did a leadoff hitter have 5 RBI? Because the Rays 7-8-9 hitters (Rodriguez, Brignac, Upton) went a combined 6-14 with a walk and scored 6 runs…Grant Balfour. He will never be 2008 Mad Australian, but 2010 Mad Australian is looking pretty good. Yesterday, he came in when the Rays lead was only 1 and recorded 2 scoreless innings with 4 strikeouts and no walks. On the season he now has 25 Ks and just 4 walks. He is 1 of only 3 relief pitchers in the AL with at least 20 Ks and no more than 5 walks.
THE BAD: Matt Garza. He picked up the win with a little help from his friends. And it wasn’t like Garza was terrible. Only 1 run came via a home run. 67 of his 108 pitches were strikes. He even did a good job of throwing first-pitch strikes (16 of 24) something that he struggles with at times. So what was the problem? Normally, Garza will throw the 4-seem fastball well over 50% of the time (59.1%), but yesterday it was just 7 of 108 pitches (6.5%) according to PitchF/x. Instead, Garza was throwing his 2-seem fastball (60.2%), a pitch he usually only uses 11.0% of the time. So was this part of a specific game plan for attacking the Rangers or did Garza just not have confidence in his 4-seemer yesterday? Typically, a 2-seem fastball has more movement than a 4-seemer. But Garza’s 4-seemer already has a lot of natural movement. Did the weather play a factor? In the hot dry air of Texas it is possible that Garza’s 4-seemer did not have the typical movement and he felt the need to use his 2-seemer more. The problem is, the 2-seemer is a slower pitch and by using it more, Garza was effectively a weaker pitcher. We wish we had an accurate PitchF/x from Matt Garza’s start in Texas 2 years ago in which he scuffled with Dioner Navarro. That was another hot afternoon game and we wonder if use of the 4-seem fastball led to the argument.
THE TELLING: John Jaso was the first catcher to ever bat leadoff for the Rays/Devil Rays. He was also the first catcher in baseball the AL to bat leadoff this year…Joe Maddon has now used a different lineup in 9 straight games and 41 of 57 games this year…Sunday’s game took 4:06.
WHERE THEY STAND: The Rays are 37-20, 2 games ahead of the Yankees and 4.5 games ahead of the Red Sox and Blue Jays in the Wild Card. After 57 games in 2008, the Rays were 35-22.
THE JUNKYARD DOGS WEBTOPIA…
- Two of the Rays recent signings from Cuba, Leslie Anderson and Sergio Espinosa have been promoted to double-A. [Rays Prospects]
- The Rays plan to give Wade Davis plenty of opportunities to work on his “mechanical issues.” [St. Pete Times]
- Joe Maddon will not bench Carlos Pena noting that his defense is “hard to walk away from.”
- Minor League Ball has their latest first round mock draft. [Minor League Ball] And here is their supplemental round mock draft. [Minor League Ball]
- Evan Longoria is the fifth best position player in all baseball over the last 3 years. [Beyond the Boxscore]
- In a 3-part series, Rays Prospects looks at the Rays draft history. [Part 1] [Part 2] [Part 3]
- Sully Baseball wonders if Stephen Strasburg might end up like former Devil Rays prospect Matt White. [Sully Baseball]
- Dave Scheiber talked to Todd Kalas about his relationship with the fans. [FS Florida]
- Joe Maddon recalls meeting John Wooden. [Rays Report]
DOWN ON THE FARM…
- Check out “The Rundown” from Rays Prospects for boxscores and more detailed recaps. [Rays Prospects]
- DURHAM: Aneury Rodriguez allowed 3 runs in 4.2 innings on 5 hits. He struck out 4 and walked 4. He now has a 3.80 ERA in 45.0 triple-A innings…Kevin Witt Dan Johnson hit his 16th home run, which is the second-most in triple-A. He is hitting .328…Matt Joyce was 2-3 with a walk and is now 9-37 (.243) in 10 triple-A games…Desmond Jennings was 0-4 with an RBI…Elliot Johnson stole his 19th base which is 2nd in the IL.
- MONTGOMERY: David Newmann gave up 2 runs in 6 innings on 7 hits and 2 walks. He struck out 4. He now has a 3.15 ERA in 11 starts…Matt Gorgen struck out 1 in a perfect 9th for his 12th save…Chris Nowak was 2-3 with his 5th home run.
- CHARLOTTE: Joe Cruz allowed 4 runs on 10 hits and 2 walks in 5 innings. He struck out 3…Tim Beckham went 2-4 with a walk and scored 3 runs. He also stole his 10th base…Henry Wrigley hit his 12th home run and was a single short of the cycle. He drove in 5.
- BOWLING GREEN: Wilking Rodriguez gave up 4 runs (2 earned) in 6 innings with 6 Ks and no walks…Brett Nommensen hit his 2nd and 3rd home runs of the year and drove in 3…Ty Morrison stole his 20th base.